Next-of-kin of MH370 victims voice their disappointment over announcement

SUBANG JAYA - Malaysia Airlines and the Department of Civil Aviation (DCA) should have informed the next-of-kin of those on board MH370 first before making the announcement on the status of the aircraft, said some aggrieved families.

In a press conference here yesterday evening, they disagreed with the manner in which the authorities announced that the disappearance qualified as an "accident".

"We did not expect that kind of announcement. From the beginning we were assured that they (authorities) would let us know anything but we were informed with the rest of the world. That should not have happened," said Jacquita Gonzales, wife of MH370 in-flight supervisor Patrick Gomes.

She said the families were still unable to come to terms with how authorities arrived at the conclusion when no concrete proof had materialised and the search in the southern Indian Ocean was ongoing.

Gonzales was among those who "gate-crashed" DCA's proposed press conference on Thursday evening, resulting in the organisers cancelling the event in favour of a televised recorded statement that was read out by DCA director-general Datuk Azharuddin Abdul Rahman.

Daughter of MH370 passenger Ann Daisy, Grace Subathirai, said she rejected the offer for compensation, saying closure was what she really needed.

"They say they are doing this announcement in the interest of the families so we can claim compensation.

"But the way they handled the press conference, when we are supposed to be the primary audience, showed they do not have our best interests at heart," she said.

Also present was American Sarah Bajc, whose boyfriend Philip Wood was on the plane, who questioned how DCA arrived at the conclusion.

"A few months ago, they believed that it was because of a hijacker. So now how is it an accident?" Bajc said.

Lee Khim Fatt, husband of stewardess Foong Wai Yueng, said DCA was insensitive to release such shocking news close to Chinese New Year.

"A lot of the passengers are Chinese and being given this news is just disrespectful to them at this time.

"They could have minimised (the impact) by telling us first," he said.