Faith in the Malaysian government’s ability to communicate clearly what might have happened to a still-missing Boeing 777 jetliner might be about to vanish into thin air.
Consider this: The government now has changed its findings into what allegedly was said aboard the Malaysian Air Flight 370 moments before it went silent and then apparently crashed into the Indian Ocean.
Someone on the flight deck had supposedly said “All right, good night” on March 8. Not so, says the government, which issued a statement Monday that said the more formal final sign off was, “Good night Malaysian three seven zero.”
Why is this important?
From where I sit, if the government cannot get straight something so simple and declarative as the crew’s final message — which had been received by the control tower in Kuala Lumpur — then its ability to transmit any information to the grieving families and the rest of the world is now in serious doubt.
Malaysian authorities have been pounded by critics over the way it has handled this tragic event. It notified family members via text message that the plane likely was lost and that all 239 people aboard were “lost.” They have been slow to inform China — given that two-thirds of the people aboard MH 370 were Chinese nationals — of the progress of the search, which has angered the government in Beijing. They changed the search area to a spot 700 miles north of where they thought the plane went down, saying that it traveled faster than earlier thought, burned fuel more quickly and went down sooner than they had thought.
Satellite pictures have indicated possible debris from the aircraft southwest of Perth, Australia. Several nations have deployed sophisticated equipment and trained personnel to look for the jetliner. They’re trying to locate the flight data recorder by listening for “pings” that authorities now believe may cease in a few days when the batteries expire.
Meanwhile, all this stumble-bumming around has created a climate for crackpot conspiracy theories that do nothing but add to waiting family members’ unimaginable grief.
Time is running out.