PETALING JAYA: An Australian citizen who lost her husband in Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 three years ago has expressed shock that the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) is refusing to release information related to the search for the missing aircraft.
“I’m stunned,” Danica Weeks, whose husband Paul was among the 239 people on board the missing Boeing 777, told FMT.
“As an Australian citizen, I cannot fathom why the ATSB would refuse to release this information when it is ultimately partly or mostly paid for by the Australian taxpayers.”
The Australian reported that ATSB had refused to release material pertaining to the search efforts. The material was requested by families of the Chinese passengers on the ill-fated flight.
Invoking an article of law that was rarely used under the Transport Safety Investigation (TSI) Act, ATSB chief commissioner Greg Hood said the request was denied because the release of the information could “cause damage to the international relations of the Commonwealth”, the daily reported.
However, Weeks wouldn’t accept Hood’s explanation.
“I cannot come up with any solid reason why they wouldn’t release the information, other than it makes them or the Malaysian government look incompetent in their search for MH370.
“But at the end of the day, this is not about saving face. This is about people’s lives, (their) loved ones, and the future of the flying public as a whole.
“I hope they reconsider their stance,” said Weeks, who is also the spokeswoman for Voice370, a group representing families of those on board MH370.
The Australian also stated that ATSB had issued a warning to its staff, threatening them with legal action if any of them is found to have leaked any information on the search.
The TSI Act carries with it a penalty of two years in jail.
To this, Weeks said: “I was aghast at this warning.
“And it only reiterates that this is about the ATSB and the Malaysian government saving face rather than caring about the loved ones that are lost, their families, friends and the safety of the flying public.”
The particular information requested was said to be documents that the ATSB had claimed supported its “ghost flight” and “death dive” scenario, which holds that the MH370 flight went down in an unpiloted crash.
However, according to The Australian, some ATSB officers are having second thoughts about the agency’s official line that MH370’s pilots were unconscious or dead at the end of the flight. Hence the fear that some of the documents may be leaked.
The flight disappeared in March 2014, en route to Beijing from the Kuala Lumpur International Airport, and has yet to be found.
Australia, China and Malaysia, which jointly coordinated and funded the search operation led by ATSB, announced in January the suspension of the search for MH370.