Solving MH370 mystery should take priority over black box custody

KUALA LUMPUR - Finding out what happened to MH370 is more important than determining who gets custody of the black box, said Acting Transport Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein.

"I don't think it is important who gets custody as far as I'm concerned, and this is my own personal position. It is finding out the truth," he told a press conference at the Defence Services Asia 2014 exhibition in Putra World Trade Centre yesterday.

"And if we want to find out the truth, you definitely have to reveal what's in the black box."

Hishammuddin also clarified his earlier comments about the A-G being in London "to discuss the custody of the black box".

"... I said I'm sure that (the black box) will be something he would be discussing with some of his counterparts in London.

"As far as the A-G is concerned, the Cabinet has actually directed that he looks at all the legal implications, whether it is International Civil Aviation Organisation practice or a challenge which involves diplomacy. As you must understand, it involves 40 nations," he said.

Hishammuddin also declined to speculate on the phone call allegedly made by the co-pilot of MH370, adding that the police were investigating the matter.

Some versions of the story said that the phone was only detected by cellphone towers, but no call was placed.

He advised families who claimed to have been harassed by American lawyers seeking to represent them to contact the authorities.

"Our committee has direct links to the families. Any new information on the issue of people coaching the families should be passed on as soon as possible to the authorities in Kuala Lumpur and China," he said.

Meanwhile, Bernama reported that Great Eastern Life Assurance (Malaysia) Bhd will pay a cumulative amount of RM2mil to 14 next of kin of those on board MH370.

CEO Datuk Koh Yaw Hui said the company would set aside procedures and proceed with the claims payment.

"We understand their situation and will just make the payments," he told the media after the opening of the Great Eastern Life Centre For Excellence here yesterday.

All of the clients insured with Great Eastern Life Assurance were Malaysians. Of the 239 persons on board MH370, 50 were Malaysians.

At the Indian Ocean, a robotic submersible called Bluefin-21 has been mapping the ocean floor using sonar at a remote area since Monday night following the absence of signals from the underwater locator beacon of MH370's flight data recorders.

Australia's Ocean Shield and other search ships have stopped searching for acoustic signals as there is a very high likelihood the batteries of the beacons (or pingers) have gone flat.

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