Malaysia says it will not blame anyone for the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 until concrete evidence emerges, despite growing anger over reports that the plane was apparently shot down by separatists in eastern Ukraine.
Prime Minister Najib Razak said that while the government condemned the attack as irresponsible and inhumane, its priority is to investigate whether the plane was indeed attacked, killing 298 passengers and crew last Thursday, and if so, find out why.
“Even though it is believed MH17 was shot down, we do not want to point fingers at anyone until proof is obtained,” he said in an address aired live on national television late on Friday night.
Datuk Seri Najib added that he would table an emergency motion in Parliament to address the issue.
Malaysia’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations Hussein Haniff also called for relevant international authorities, including the United Nations agency International Civil Aviation Organisation, to be involved in the investigations. United States President Barack Obama has blamed “Russian-backed” separatists for shooting down the civilian aircraft from an area that they control in Ukraine, using a surface-to-air missile.
The news came while Malaysians are still reeling from the mysterious disappearance of Flight MH370 and its 239 passengers just 41/2 months ago, and the latest disaster involving the same type of MAS aircraft has left the entire nation in disbelief.
Yesterday, new Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai told a packed press conference that those responsible for downing MH17 must “stop the violence” as it is inhumane to shoot down a commercial aircraft. “It is very painful. We are very sad,” Datuk Seri Liow said, when asked how Malaysia felt about the killers of the passengers and crew on board the plane.
“We are angry over this matter.”
He said Mr Najib had appealed to world leaders, including Russian President Vladimir Putin, to ensure Malaysia’s team of investigators and medical staff be given access to the crash site.
Mr Liow said the investigations must be expedited. “Those responsible must face the full force of justice without delay,” he said.
“This outrage cannot go unpunished”.
This article was first published on July 20, 2014. Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.