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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


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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  • http://tombstone001.blogspot.com/ tombstone001

    I would like to know how a turned off/ not functioning transponder gets ignored by ATC. Right there ATC should have been cotntecting the plane and if unable, declaring an emergency. The why did Vietnam did not look for the plane at the appropriate time, they would have been told when the aircraft became airborne, ETA alt. and the transponder code. Why was China not informed of missing flight in a timely manner.
    The aircraft do not fly around loose, they are always in contact
    With someone, Malaysians had control until it would have been handed over to Vietnamese controllers.
    Most commercial planes are also in contact with home base

    If the military(also the civilians), at any time, see an unidentified aircraft they must, MUST try to contact it or send someone to investigate, like a fighter jet I mean. I haven’t of any of these measures.
    There is no way this craft flew seven hours or even half that and we do not have a satellite picture of it, someone does, like we do, may be.

    Certain aircraft parts have radio identifiers, they do not get turned off,

  • Fiscally_Responsible

    For those who are quick to criticize Malaysia for not having safeguards in place to prevent whatever took place from occurring, let’s remember that the US was totally blindsided by the events of 9/11. Also, if two pilots conspired to turn off the transponder and redirect/steal the plane in the U.S. as is being alleged in Malaysia, I don’t believe that we would have been able to prevent it either. We would probably only have been able to shoot it down in the event that it was headed for a population center. In terms of the investigation, I’m sure that we would have wanted to keep our technical capabilities (radar/satellite) close to the vest as Malaysia did for the first several days. And in terms of a coverup of this event by the Malaysian government because it makes them look bad, we need to look further than Benghazi or Obamacare for examples of our government failing to tell us the truth.

    • John Cedar

      Not sure what you mean by totally blindsided?
      But 9/11 events were about as much of a surprise as the Fort Hood shooting.

    • hennorama

      Fiscally_Responsible — congratulations!

      You’ve won today’s BOFF (Blame Obama First, First) award.

      • jefe68

        And the “Benghazi” meme award.

        • hennorama

          jefe68 — the judges decided that since “the IRS” was omitted, no award would be granted.

      • Coastghost

        And this public service alert earns you today’s DOFF (Defend Obama First, First) Award, hen? Congratulations!

        • hennorama

          Coastghost — no, but one is honored to have been considered.

          A different award would have been awarded to F_R had a decent acronym/alternative for Most Ludicrous Connection to President Obama come to mind.

        • jefe68

          Has it ever occurred to you the act of pointing out that blaming Obama for everything, including the cat’s hairball is not an indication of defending him?
          But merely an observation on how some on the right seem to have a form of OCD when it comes to President Obama.

          • Coastghost

            Insofar as “DSM politics” (the imputation of psychopathology to political opposition) is basically an equal-opportunity pastime, I think you’d have to concede that no few on the left are also afflicted with OCD just as soon as discourse turns to Obama.
            What you diagnose is perhaps only normal contamination resulting from political mutation in the American Body Politic: we enjoyed a good long run of Bash Bush First antics for oh so long, lest we forget.
            I agree it is fatuous to attempt to blame Obama for everything: after all, some things still manage to work, even after five years of his Presidency.

          • jefe68

            I don’t remember the Bush bashing as being as absurd as the right’s and Fox’s daily meme assault.

            Bush earned a lot of it though. As do most presidents. It’s not an easy job and someone somewhere is not going to be happy. But the level of right wing vitriol is off the charts. As is witnessed on this very forum, day in, and day out.

        • StilllHere

          It was a tough call, there are many Obamapologists vying for this coveted honor!

    • MadMarkTheCodeWarrior

      There you go again. Oblivious to being a tool manipulated by the fear mongering manipulation machine of wall street parasites and corporate elite which uses its party of no compromise and no conspiracy is too crazy to create grid lock on social and fiscal agendas to protect their wealth and advance there agenda of tax breaks for victims of affluenza and no regulations are necessary for the beatified job creators because they are destined for sainthood and there’s no need to burden them with inspections or safety regulations because the will never intentionally engage in reckless, irresponsible or predatory behavior or God forbid, lie. Only the good for nothing 47% engage in criminal acts and stoop to lying to get what they want. Go ahead keep repeating the propaganda designed to keep that fairy tale alive.

      Facts are facts, Illusions are attractive to those looking for easy answers or someone to blame and reality is a two edged sword.

  • Shag_Wevera

    Art Bell, WHERE ARE YOU!?

    • georgepotts

      What about George Noory?

      • northeaster17

        Until they got rid of John B Wells I liked Noory. But now not so much.

  • Peter Duveen

    Everything on public radio is being used as a propaganda ploy for the State Department. I hope the host of this show, who I respect, understands this. The US has had it out for Malaysia since the Clinton administration recommended regime change there. In the second segment, on Syria, the US State Department’s hand will quite likely be evident as well. The spin on Syria, where the US has invested in the destruction of that country via funding and arming of “rebels,” will of course be to blame Assad for the plight of children there, when it is obviously a US job from start to finish.

    • Ray in VT

      Sure. That whole uprising thing against a guy with a long history of mistreating his people was nothing more than State Department engineered “regime change”.

      • Peter Duveen

        A country with the resources of the United States can take advantage of any discontent in a country to fuel a “rebellion.” Case in point besides Syria: Ukraine.

        • Ray in VT

          Sure, and former President Yanukovych didn’t engage in a variety of actions that angered large swathes of his countrymen, who protested against him for months. It’s all just an American plot.

          • Peter Duveen

            Remarks by Nuland, over the telephone and the 5 billion dollars funneled into Ukraine to bring it into the EU fold indicates the magnitude of resources the US brings to the table. A large swath of America have expressed profound discontent with the current administration and Congress.

          • northeaster17

            The U.S. should bring large amopunts of resources to the table. As far as the backing of the Ukraine protests. Most of Europe has been on board also. Why wouldn’t we want a close ally with all those pipelines going through it.

          • Ray in VT

            5 billion over 22 years. How impressive. Given the history of how the Ukrainians were treated under the Soviets, I don’t think that any outside influence was needed in order to sour their opinions of the Russians.

          • keltcrusader

            My grandmother was Ukrainian (Ruthenian actually, but I digress). She HATED Russia and all it stood for, lost many family members before she left for good.

          • Ray in VT

            I know a number of people who are of Irish descent who cannot stand England. I think that some of these historical grievances are understandable to a certain extent.

  • William

    Perhaps just a fire on board caused the plane to eventually crash somewhere out in the Indian Ocean.

  • Ed75

    The plot thickens.

  • Peter Duveen

    Anwar Ibrahim is the darling of the US establishment. As far as disqualifying people for office by bringing charges against them that don’t stick, America is a prime example. Look at Sen. Stevens, and then Tom Delay. That’s the tip of the iceberg.

    • northeaster17

      Or even Bill Clinton

  • Ed75

    I think it’s a bullet with our name on it, unfortunately. Flight 370.

    • tbphkm33

      Nope, the hijacking or stealing of the plane to use as a weapons platform expired yesterday. If that was the case, terrorist would have utilized the plane for maximum effect, which means a Monday or Tuesday morning when major buildings are at their busiest.

      For one, they can’t sit on the plane for a very long time. These are complex machines and it does not take much downtime before they require maintenance to get back up in the air. Secondly, for something as complex as stealing an airliner it would require a large group of people knowing about it. Doubtful they could keep it under wraps this long.

      • Ed75

        I agree.

  • rich4321

    Stop passing judgement on the Malaysia government. Right now there are still so many unknown variables, let’s focus on the passages’ well being, don’t turn it into a political issue!

    • Peter Duveen

      It will be turned into a political issue. That’s the whole point of this program. Everything on NPR becomes a political issue. The US State Department wastes no opportunity. It massages its links with the media to make sure its vision is transmitted to the media, including what news is aired and how it is pitched.

      • J__o__h__n

        What is the US objective in this where we still don’t even have a villain to blame?

    • tbphkm33

      I agree with Rich – doubtful the US government would have done much better under similar circumstances.

  • Ed75

    If it was a failed attempt and went down in the sea, that would be a relief, if only the people were rescued.

  • northeaster17

    I think the plane is in Vietnam.

  • tbphkm33

    I’ve all along said the plane is in the south Indian Ocean – from a cargo fire, explosion or, more logically, what this article points out, a front landing wheel fire created at takeoff from being under inflated and having a long takeoff roll. The pilots were either incapacitated by smoke or lost critical flight instruments. Either way, the jet remained air worthy until it ran out of fuel over the south Indian Ocean. US, Russian, nor Chinese intelligence satellites picked up an mid-air explosion, so probability is that the plane ditched into the ocean upon running out of fuel.

    Universal rule, simplicity is truth. The most simple explanation is most often the closest to the truth.

    “A Startlingly Simple Theory About the Missing Malaysia Airlines Jet”

    • WorriedfortheCountry

      What about the latest reports that the uturn was programmed into the flight computer at least 12 minutes before the last voice transmission? If true, it destroys the ‘wired’ theory of a fire.

      • tbphkm33

        I saw that, but its probably more a theory than fact. There has been a number of things proposed that later turned out not to be factual.

        • WorriedfortheCountry

          You are right to be skeptical. There is another problem with the ‘wired’ theory. There were other runways suitable for landing a 100 miles closer. Why didn’t the pilot target those in the emergency?

          There appear to be too many ‘coincidences’.

          1) 7 hour flight time
          2) plane went black just after Malaysian handoff and before Vietnam acceptance.
          3) disabling of multiple tracking transponders

          • tbphkm33

            1) flight time was simply the fuel left in the plane
            2) lost contact was a coincidence.
            3) tracking transponders were the pilots essentially pulling circuit breakers to contain the fire. Standard procedure in a fire situation.

            These guys contained the fire, but lost the plane. Either they died at the controls or survived, but had not control of the plane.

          • WorriedfortheCountry

            Plausible if the new timely is proven wrong but it still begs why they didn’t opt for a runway 100 miles closer and didn’t execute the turn manually vs. via auto-pilot.

          • tbphkm33

            Could be as simple as that they were trying to contain the situation. Its not just landing, but they would also have had to manually dump fuel, so 100 miles might have been too close. They were trying to gain control of the situation, line up for an emergency landing, and prepare the plane to land. Like the DC-10 years ago, they just ran out of time.

    • jefe68

      Problem with that is the weird flight pattern and the pilots last transmission.

      • tbphkm33

        The pilot in this article does explain that. Plus, the odd flight pattern can be explained by loss of critical flight controls. It could simply be that the pilots were hero’s and kept the plane from crashing at the point of lost contact, but could not wrestle control to land it anywhere.

        • jefe68

          Lot of conjecture in that.

        • Alchemical Reaction

          Yes, you are obviously right. Unless you are not.

    • MadMarkTheCodeWarrior

      Your theory is belied by the fact that two transmitters were intentionally turned off, not by massive power failure, but evidently by someone in the cockpit.

      • tbphkm33

        Its already come out that it was incorrect to say they were turned off.

  • leibniz09

    Can anybody say Diego Garcia?

  • Guest

    It was obviously Bane.

  • Joe Mahma

    Why would Islamic Fundies want to fly an airliner into a building in an Islamic country??? Seriously, Tom? Those people don’t really care who they kill.

    • tbphkm33

      The 777 has a range of 9,000 miles – it can fly half way around the world.

      • Joe Mahma

        I’m referring to Tom’s radio show today where he asked this question.

  • Waterlily

    Please read, at WIRED. Com, “A Startlingly Simple Theory About the Missing Malaysian Jet” it is a thorough and convincing article by Chris Goodfellow, a Canadian pilot with twenty years of experience as a Class 1 instrumental-rated pilot for multi-engine planes. He knows jets, and he knows flying, and I’m betting he has this about right. The title isn’t his, BTW, and the article was first published on Google +, was reprinted on WIRED with permission of the author.
    Oops, I see tbphkm33 already posted about pilot’s theory, and has taken the time to respond to queries. Thanks, tbph, for getting it out there.
    Sounds as though someone on the panel proposed elements of Goodfellow’s theory, as well. I missed that part of the broadcast.

  • Alison Swan

    I was just going to share the same link that waterlily already shared:

  • Dee Dee B

    REALLY tired of wbur drumming this into the ground with ” dramatic speculations” etc when they don’t know squat about what happened to that plane.. contstant updates on ” nothingness”

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