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Flight 370’s Point Of Origin: Malaysia

We go to Malaysia to look at the country where the Flight 370 mystery began. Political battles and ethnic tensions.

Malaysian acting Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein, second from right, speaks as Malaysian Foreign Minister Anifah Aman, right, Malaysia's Department of Civil Aviation director general Azharuddin Abdul Rahman, second left, and Malaysia Airlines Group Chief Executive Ahmad Jauhari Yahyain listen during a press conference at a hotel in Sepang, Malaysia, Tuesday, March 18, 2014. (AP)

Malaysian acting Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein, second from right, speaks as Malaysian Foreign Minister Anifah Aman, right, Malaysia’s Department of Civil Aviation director general Azharuddin Abdul Rahman, second left, and Malaysia Airlines Group Chief Executive Ahmad Jauhari Yahyain listen during a press conference at a hotel in Sepang, Malaysia, Tuesday, March 18, 2014. (AP)

Nobody knows where Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 is.  Could be in a mountain airstrip in Kazakhstan or Tibet.  Could be at the bottom of the Indian Ocean.  It’s a mystery, and all too likely a tragedy.  But we do know where it took off.  Malaysia.  And that is a story in itself.  It’s played out in bewildering press conferences where Malaysian authorities flip their stories and flummox searchers.  It’s played out in searches of the homes of the Malaysian pilot and co-pilot.  It’s played out in a high-profile sodomy trial the day before takeoff. This hour On Point:  Flight 370’s country of origin – Malaysia.

— Tom Ashbrook

Guests

Stuart Grudgings, special correspodnent for Southeast Asia and Malaysia bureau chief for Reuters.  (@stuartgrudgings)

Bridget Welsh, professor of political science at Singapore Management University.

Ibrahim Suffian, Malaysia political activist. Director of the independent Merdeka Center polling firm.

Greg Barton, research professor at Monash University in Melbourne, where he directs the Centre for Islam and the Modern World.

From Tom’s Reading List

USA Today: Malaysian pilot among many government foes — “The pilot of the missing Malaysia Airlines flight was one of many Malaysians who have been battling a ruling party that has maintained dominance for 40 years. The National Front coalition has held power in Malaysia since 1973 and the government largely controls the political coverage in the country’s media, critics say.”

New York Times: Series of Errors by Malaysia Mounts, Complicating the Task of Finding Flight 370 — “A week after the plane disappeared, the trail is even colder as the search now sprawls from the snowy peaks of the Himalayas to the empty expanses of the southern Indian Ocean. Nobody knows yet whether the delays cost the lives of any of the 239 people who boarded the flight to Beijing at Kuala Lumpur’s ultramodern airport here. But the mistakes have accumulated at a remarkable pace.”

The Economist: Long Arms — “Shock has turned to anger after two court rulings in the space of a few days in effect suspended, if not finished, the careers of two of Malaysia’s most prominent opposition politicians. First, on March 7th, the veteran leader, Anwar Ibrahim, of the opposition’s alliance, Pakatan Rakyat (PR), had his acquittal in 2012 on a charge of sodomy overturned by the Court of Appeal; he now faces five years in jail. And then on March 11th Mr Anwar’s lawyer, Karpal Singh, also an MP and chairman of one of the three parties that make up PR, was convicted of sedition.”

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