Department of Civil Aviation (DCA) Director General Azharuddin Abdul Rahman
In the early days of the investigation, I believe it is this guy who brought tarnish and shame to Malaysia as the main spokesperson, confusing the media and the affected families with unclear answers, flip-flopping statements, contradictory reports and plain ridiculous comments. Remember that the Iranians looked like Mario Balotelli?
Not being a politician, Azharuddin is actually the top civil servant of his department. And the lack of crises during his tenure greatly speaks to the seemingly poor crisis management. For instance, in response to questions, he simply blurts out what he thinks is mainly the truth instead of preparing all his facts before hand or even saying ‘I’ll get back to you’.
Another characteristic he exposes about most Malaysians is that, Malaysians in general have poor communication skills, irrespective of language spoken. A sentence once uttered, needs to be reviewed one over in your head, would the person you are talking to get the full picture that you have in your head?
But on the whole, I get the impression that the director general is not on top of everything, even in his department even with an engineering background.
Acting Minister of Transport cum Defence Minister Hishammuddin Hussein
This is the minister that saved Malaysia from more harm that Azharuddin could have done if he remained the chief spokesperson at the press briefings. Instead of several chiefs speaking in contradiction with one another, Hishammuddin provided the press with a single united voice and with a carefully scripted announcement at the start of each briefing. As a seasoned politician, he knows when to even stop the DCA chief or the armed forces chief from talking just when they were about to incriminate themselves, going down the wrong rabbit hole during Q&A.
With that being said, Hishammuddin stance at the press briefings were one of over-arching caution, needing corroborative and verifiable evidence for the simplest issues. It makes Malaysia seem like it was hiding a lot of things, and that didn’t go down well with the families of those affected and the foreign press who were more accustomed to a ‘breaking news’ frequent updates.
A leopard cannot change its spots. Hishammuddin can’t stop being a politician even under the spotlight, but UMNO’s brand of politics is one the West is unaccustomed to. Phrases like 'There is only confusion if you want to see confusion' and ‘I think history will judge us well’ reveal the combative, over defensive, vague and never apologetic nature of Malaysian politicians. Malaysians know it all too well, but now the world has a sneak peek.
MAS CEO, Ahmad Jauhari (AJ)
Among all of the officials on stage, this MAS supremo impresses me most. He has sure made a few missteps dealing with the Chinese families like announcing the aircraft’s crashing into the Indian Ocean by text message. But when faced with the clamour of the press, he sure knows his stuff, down to the minutest detail when probed by reporters. He displayed intimate knowledge of plane systems, aircraft maintenance, operations, engineering specifics and the details of the case of the missing plane. An engineer himself, he surpasses Azharuddin when it comes to knowing the facts about the organisation that is helmed. MAS is lucky to have such an astute CEO at a time like this.
General Zulkifeli Mohd. Zin, Chief of Malaysian Armed Forces and RMAF chief General Rodzali Daud
With all due respect, when the top two military men spoke, finding the next word in the sentence is as difficult as finding for flight MH370 itself. It is a trait seen in many Malaysian top officials and politicians irrespective of the language spoken.
The Malaysian Military
No surprises here, the military has failed to provide the immediate response that people expect. Not only did they not detect the ill-fated place flying illegally across the peninsula, but it needed days of consulting and verifying with foreign experts to interpret the radar data, which is something we expect the military to be expert at. Total fail for Malaysian military hardware and software.
CNN, and other American Media
When even no news is news itself. The level of fascination the American media has shown is unfathomable even when their viewers are fed up with the non-stop coverage of what is essentially very little news. The problem for Malaysia is that since she doesn’t fare well on the dissecting board. Each second Malaysia spends in the limelight, all her flaws show like being called incompetent in handling the search operations in the early days but was never forgiven despite officials improving the efforts later. In hindsight, there’s no such thing as bad publicity.
While Tony Abbot has constantly given media briefings on his country’s work on the search and rescue operations, Najib has appeared only twice in connection with MH370 while all the time hiding behind his cousin. And in his two announcements, he made sure they were earth shaking pronouncements and never took any questions from the floor. For that he left it to Hishammuddin on the next day. No wonder people felt Malaysia was hiding things.
The Chinese Families
I sympathise with the families, losing your only child, or in one case, whole families can be devastating. And it’s true, the officials didn’t reveal everything, there are national secrets and a lot of unverified reports. But that should not give them the excuse to overreact, to the point of blaming MAS for bloody murder and demanding information of an ongoing investigation that they wouldn’t normally be privy to. Denial – Anger – Bargaining – Depression – Acceptance – the five stages of grief. Even after months, they’re still stuck in the first and maybe the second stage. Setting aside reason and logic for maniacal sentiment is inexcusable.
The Malaysian Public
Except for the highly unrealistic expectation of miracles, the Malaysians reacted appropriately to the issue of the missing plane.
The Twenty Six Nations involved
There was a time when the search areas covered two massive arcs with all the central Asian countries involved. It brought together many nations who were not on the friendliest terms, and with Malaysia at the centre of it, trying to coordinate everything on the whole. While superficially, all nations pledge their support and cooperation, the world can see how nations try to conceal their military capabilities or how China prevents internal dissatisfaction from the Chinese people by deploying enough ships and applying enough pressure on Malaysia.
I could say, Malaysia Airlines MH370 flying off the map, has put Malaysia on the map. It is unfortunate that Malaysia could only gain fame under such unlucky circumstances.