We are all hurting together

Now that it's official that MH370 is gone with all on board, we need to mourn the many lives lost but eventually, we need to move on.

This was supposed to be our year; the year we put our best foot forward and welcome record tourists with bright smiles.

But as we all know, it's been hard to smile the last few weeks and on Monday tears flowed freely.

After 18 agonising days, MH370 was officially declared lost in the remote reaches of the southern Indian Ocean and all on board presumed dead.

Until that dreaded announcement, even though our heads told us it would be impossible for the plane to land somewhere safely, in our hearts, we wanted that bizarre miracle of survival so much.

Sadly, the disclosure that MH370 is officially lost at sea did not provide closure. As long as there is no sign of the plane, there will be people who will refuse to accept there is no more hope.

They want hard evidence - at least a piece of debris that is definitely from the plane - not some conclusion derived from satellite technology that experts used to decide where the plane "ended'.

That is understandable. A close relative thinks the plane could have landed on a remote island and everyone on board could have been locked up.

Then the plane took off again, was put on auto-pilot and the hijacker jumped off with a parachute. The plane finally ditched into the ocean when it ran out of fuel.

Talk about imagination and too much espionage movies. Of course the big question I tossed back was: why would anyone do that?

The same question to so many of the things that are also known and confirmed about MH370: the turn back, the systematic shutdown of the communications systems, the erratic altitudes of the plane, so on and so forth.

But as MAS chairman Tan Sri Md Nor Yusof told a news conference yesterday, "We don't know how, we don't know why, we can only pray for the souls on board."

Hence, the anguished and furious reaction to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak's announcement on Monday night from the Chinese families.

That's understandable. The tension, the grief, the hope stretched so tightly over so many agonising days. But what is hard to take is their deep suspicion that the Malaysian Govern­ment is trying to hide the truth. The Beijing Government is also demanding transparency in the investigations.

Yes, two-thirds of the 239 people on board were Chinese citizens but we lost 49 of our own. We are just as anguished and in need of answers too.

Yes, there were missteps, delays and contradictory statements, especially during the early days of the crisis. But once the Government and Malaysia Airlines got themselves sorted out, they did the best they could.

I seriously doubt any other government could have done better, given the confounding mystery surrounding MH370's disappearance.

As an online posting put it: "Jumbo jets, particularly those as big and with a sterling service record as the Boeing 777, don't just disappear mid-flight. Especially in otherwise perfect weather, on a night without volcanic activity and without even so much as a hint of a problem."

MH370 simply swept aside everything else. Suddenly, nothing else mattered. Every angle and lead was sliced and diced by the media and everyone else on the planet.

Events and stories which would have normally hogged the headlines - the haze, water woes, two by-elections, shocking drug use at concerts, tensions in the Ukraine - fell by the wayside.

"Malaysia", "Malaysia Airlines", "Kuala Lumpur" and "Straits of Malacca" have all been mentioned so many times on all the international TV stations, in newspapers and online portals that never again will we have to explain where we are on the globe - "south of Thailand, north of Singapore" - to anyone.

The story hasn't ended and the intense media interest still hasn't dimmed because the arduous search for the plane continues. The foul weather hampering the search efforts adds further drama to the situation.

What is likely, too, is the search for answers will increasingly be in the hands of other agencies beyond Malaysia because they have the know-how, expertise and experience.

For now, all we want to do is mourn and pray for the souls of the departed.

In time to come, if answers are not forthcoming, our attention will turn to other things. That is inevitable and it may seem callous but we will have to let it go and move on.

Even the affected families will have come to terms with their loss. The official declaration that MH370 has crashed and all are presumed dead is important because it has practical and legal implications that affect the deceased's bank accounts, wills, insurance and so on.

Despite the jitters and blue funk we are in, people are still flying and travelling. The MATTA Fair did roaring business two weekends back. I was there and booked myself three holiday packages spread out over the coming months and, yes, I am flying MAS.

So no matter how grief-stricken we feel, we must square our shoulders and put up a brave front because life must go on.

>Aunty hopes time will heal the hearts of those in grief and that in time, too, we will find out what happened on flight MH370 and have true closure.

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