Human helplessness exposed

It seems something straight out of a mystery movie. A Malaysian airplane bearing 239 passengers that was bound for China never got there, and has yet to be found, more than a week after it disappeared.

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak recently called for a press conference where he announced that new information has led his government to believe that the plane was deliberately diverted and flown for hours before vanishing from the radar screen.

Police investigators have begun checking the backgrounds of the plane’s pilots, Capt. Zaharie Ahmad Shah, and his First Officer Fariq Abdul Hamid. Some say that the plane’s disappearance may have been an “act of piracy” citing how the plane’s transponders were turned off.

What happened to Malaysian Airlines flight MH730 and where did it end up? We are gripped by this story. That it has been a week without any real progress in solving this mystery underscores how vulnerable we, the people, still are, despite the existence of modern technology.

Here in Manila, I always pay a little extra for additional legroom that can be found in the row of seats near the plane’s emergency exit door. Before the plane takes off, a flight stewardess would approach those seated in the emergency row with a specific request for them to study the flight safety card in front of them. I’ve always read those cards dutifully as asked though as an optimist, the thought of imminent danger requiring my pulling down the handle of the emergency door hardly crosses my mind. The disappearance of MH730 gives me more things to fret about the next time I board a plane.

Can you imagine the anxiety of the passengers on board that flight? They couldn’t even text or call their loved ones to alert them on what was going on and possibly to say their farewells. Were they even aware of what was going on?

The plane took off from Malaysia and was heading toward China, two countries known for their strict security regulations, on a clear day. What happened?

Sophisticated radar systems failed to help the plane in its direst moments, nor come up with definite destination points in the wake of its sudden disappearance. Two men were able to board the international flight using stolen passports. A multi-country search team has been called off because apparently they were searching in the wrong side of the ocean.

It’s impossible not to think about the families of the passengers and crew aboard MH370 as they await news from proper authorities. All sorts of speculations have found its way to the media, making it more difficult for the families to simply wait this out. Yet, what other choice do they have?

Long after 9/11 took place, the disappearance of Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 reminds us that we still don’t have all the answers; that institutions, technology, and safety reminders even when combined, could still fail to protect us.

“All right, good night.” Those were the pilot’s last four words. Was there someone sinister beside him when he said those words? If there was a deliberate plan to crash the plane, then why that particular plane and who planned such a nefarious deed?

There can be no rest not just for the governments and families concerned, but also for the rest of the world, until this mystery is finally laid to rest. We are a global family, and threats to the safety of one, diminishes all of us.

Let’s pray for the passengers and crew of MH370. What happened to them could easily happen to someone we care about unless the right answers prevent more planes from dropping out of the sky.

Arab News Link: Human helplessness exposed

Author: Susan Ople

Susan "Toots" Ople is the President of the Blas F. Ople Policy and Training Institute. She's an OFW and labor advocate based in the Philippines.

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  • juan_liwanag

    I have met a number of families whose members have met untimely demise. It is always difficult to break the sad news to them. Those who are most able to cope are usually those who see life merely as a gift from God. They could easily rationalize the situation by thinking that “He who gives is also the One that taketh away.” Indeed, no one could protect us from these unexpected situations, except our Great Maker. So let our take from this situation be to always repose our faith in Him!