Sun Tzu - Art of War

''Be extremely subtle, even to the point of formlessness. Be extremely mysterious, even to the point of soundlessness" - Sun Tzu

Saturday, March 29, 2014

In Malaysia, truth is a stranger. What if Inmarsat is wrong? Another Junk Science?

Side Note: We expect to see more Altantuya appearing as the MH370 flight mystery deepens - especially when someone has started to cast doubts and questioned Inmarsat accuracy.
Source: GulfNews - Wash Post

By Hui Mei Liew Kaiser Published: 20:00 March 29, 2014 Gulf News

On Monday, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak appeared before the press to announce that missing flight MH370 “ended in the Southern Indian Ocean.” Najib’s statement finally gave the families of the passengers an “answer” on the fate of their loved ones. But it comes after weeks of spectacular obfuscation by Malaysian government officials, who repeatedly fudged details, contradicted each other or used the tragedy to score points against the political opposition.

Just to add insult to injury, Malaysian Airlines informed the families of the sad news by sending them a text message. Small wonder that some of the relatives are now accusing Malaysian officialdom of orchestrating a “cover-up,” and demanding to see concrete evid-ence such as the plane’s black box.

The rest of the world has reacted to the half-truths of the Malaysian authorities with bewilderment. But to us Malaysians it’s nothing new: We’ve been putting up with this sort of garbage our entire lives. Our officials are incapable of communicating because they’ve never felt the need to. Our corrupt and incompetent bureaucracy regards its own citizens with such top-down contempt that its dialogue muscles have simply atrophied.

So it’s no wonder that Malaysians have spent the past few weeks coping the way we’re accustomed to: by indulging in conspiracy theories, the last pathetic refuge of people who know that they can never expect the truth from their own leaders. So we’ve seen some Malaysians blaming the loss of the plane on everyone from our own government to the United States, China, North Korea, Iran, Afghanistan and — why not? — aliens. Yes, it’s sad. And yes, it’s more than a little crazy. But in the final analysis you can’t really blame us. Where else are we supposed to find any answers?

The Malaysian government’s response has been dismal almost from the moment MH370 went missing. In most countries, the prime minister would step forward and take the lead during a catastrophe of this magnitude. In Malaysia, however, our prime minister decided to spend his time boasting about his skill at buying cheap chicken, analysing the economy’s health based on the price of kangkung (water spinach), or strolling around shopping malls. He’s left the bulk of the mundane task of disaster management to the acting transport minister cum minister of defence, Hishammuddin Hussain, who has figured as the official government spokesman at a number of press conferences following the disappearance of MH370. (Hishammuddin, it’s worth noting, is a cousin of Prime Minister Najib — a coincidence quite widespread in a country where politicians are often linked by clan ties.)

Judging by the reactions from passengers’ families and the international media, Hishammuddin hasn’t exactly been doing a stellar job. In the early days of the investigation, the minister and his team event offered a conspiracy theory of their own. In this case, Malaysian officials speculated — without offering any particular evidence to back up their claim — that the plane’s pilot, a “fanatical supporter” of opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim and a relative of Anwar’s son-in-law, might have been motivated to hijack his own plane for political reasons. The day before, a Malaysian court sentenced Anwar to five years in prison on sodomy charges, a decision that bars him for running for office in upcoming elections. Again, none of this comes as a particular surprise. In recent years, government officials have developed the habit of blaming everything and anything on the opposition, and especially on Anwar.

Paternalistic political culture

One side effect of the government’s inept response to the MH370 catastrophe, according to some, is that it has prompted some unwelcome analysis of the country’s political system, which has been dominated by the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition for the past 57 years. So is Malaysia’s paternalistic political culture really being challenged now that MH370 incident has exposed its leaders to the withering judgements of international critics? I’m inclined to doubt it. As soon as the MH370 issue cools down, Malaysia’s government will return to business as usual. Nothing will change.

Just consider the scandal surrounding Abdul Taib Mahmoud, the chief minister of the Malaysian state of Sarawak. According to the Bruno Manser Fund, a Swiss environmental group, and local critics in Sarawak, Abdul Taib, who’s held office since 1981, has amassed enormous wealth (and caused vast environmental damage) through his unchallenged control of the state’s forests. These critics allege that Taib has used his power to enrich his own family and well-connected cronies, who have harvested billions of dollars’ worth of tropical timber. Early last year, the international corruption watchdog group Global Witness released extensive video footage from a covert investigation that showed Taib’s cousins explaining how they had circumvented state laws to acquire vast tracts of forest land.

In January 2013, 20 Swiss members of parliament filed a motion calling for an immediate freeze of assets held by Swiss banks on behalf of the Malaysian Taib family.

In a normal, democratic political system, all this would have prompted official investigations, parliamentary inquiries, demands for accountability. The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission did organise a probe to investigate Taib — but the minister simply declared, with apparent impunity, that he would not cooperate with the “naughty” and “dishonest” commission. As a result, Malaysian officials have yet to open a domestic investigation into the case. One year later, in February 2014, the probe made the improbable claim that it could not find any evidence that Taib had abused his power. On this March 1, Abdul Taib was sworn in for a term as Sarawak’s governor — a position even more powerful than the one he held before.

Zero sense of accountability

Taib can get away with this sort of thing precisely because of his cozy relationship with the ruling BN coalition and the party that dominates it (the United Malays National Organisation, or UMNO). The ruling coalition sees Sarawak as a vital cache of votes for the party, and within this system, Taib is untouchable. In our general election last year, the main opposition coalition, led by Anwar Ibrahim, won just over 50 per cent of the vote — yet BN still ended up with 60 per cent of the seats in the national parliament. That’s because the government uses gerrymandering and elaborate dirty tricks to divide up the election system in ways that ensure continued BN rule, regardless of the way Malaysians actually vote. It’s not surprising, then, that there is zero sense of accountability in our country — and that the government officials who have risen to the top of the system feel little pressure to respond to those pesky demands for information from ordinary people.

The Malaysian government has a long history of ignoring its citizens’ right to know. Just take one of the most notorious cases. Back in 2002, an international human rights group filed an international court challenge alleging that the Malaysian government had accepted millions of dollars in bribes from a French shipbuilding company in the $1.25 billion (Dh4.59 billion) purchase of two Scorpene submarines. Though the French investigation produced enough evidence to implicate top Malaysian officials, the government summarily denied the claims, and no one was ever punished. Over a decade later, the scandal is still unresolved.

Or take the murder of Mongolian model and translator Altantuya Shaariibuu (which has also been linked to the submarine case). Witnesses linked Altantuya romantically to one of Najib’s best friends and close policy advisers, a man named Abdul Razak Baginda. Sources claimed that she was trying to blackmail Razak with her knowledge of the shady submarine deal before she was killed by two of Najib’s bodyguards. Though the case implicated both the Malaysian prime minister and his wife, the government never initiated any official investigation. The case has remained in limbo ever since.

A private investigator, P Balasubramaniam (known as “Bala”), made a convincing statutory declaration for the prosecution in the Altantuya case — but soon retracted the statement, and subsequently dropped out of sight, along with his entire family. Bala turned up again a few years later, claiming that he’d been offered $1.5 million by a businessman close to Najib’s family if he’d take back his original declaration. Bala died of a heart attack on March 15, 2013, in the midst of campaigning for the opposition in the upcoming election. Then Olivier Metzner, a French lawyer involved the submarine court case, was found dead in “an apparent suicide” two days after Bala’s death.

Not long after that the Malaysian Court of Appeals decided to acquit the two policemen who had been sentenced to death for Altantuya’s murder. The court’s decision provoked an angry response from Altantuya’s father and the Mongolian government. But, as we’ve pointed out, foreigners apparently have just as little right to satisfactory information from the Malaysian government as Malaysian citizens do.

We Malaysians, in short, have been putting up with this culture of official impunity for decades. Without having much choice in the matter, we’ve become accustomed to living under an authoritarian bureaucracy that mocks our requests for honest dialogue, and revels in its own contempt for basic rules of transparency and accountability.

Now the international community is getting its own taste of what dealing with this system is really like. What’s more, MH370 proves that Malaysia’s political immaturity is not merely a domestic issue, but threatens the citizens of other nations as well. As Malaysian citizens, we offer our sincerest condolences to the families of the passengers and the international community — and we hope that you’ll join us in the fight against our government’s blatant corruption. — Washington Post

Hui Mei Liew Kaiser is a graduate of Northern University of Malaysia in finance and international trade. She also holds a degree from the University of Malaya in International Strategic and Defence Studies.


What if they are wrong? Satellite Company Inmarsat reversed position on where MH370 plane flight may be

By DJ Tanman on March 27, 2014

  • Swell of satellite experts question accuracy and reliability of data and methods for satellite ping “math” to locate a moving aircraft, while major news headlines praise the satellite company who claims to have located the final position of Flight MH370.
  • The math formula to project the last known location of the plane may be right but if one shred of input data is incorrect, the plane could be actually thousands of miles away.
  • Missing Information: The world was told by Inmarsat where Flight MH370 was located at 8:11 AM, but where is the ping data showing where it was at 7:11 AM, 6:11 AM, 5:11 AM, 4:11 AM, 3:11 AM, 2:11 AM? Certainly it would be great information for investigators to know the route the plane came on, and if the satellite company claims they have this data, why have they not published it?
  • Why is the satellite company not transparent about the missing satellite data which would have shown the flight path not just the last ping location, asks many satellite experts.
  • This is NOT GPS technology being used, the satellite company Inmarsat says their technology is not even designed to locate planes and this is the first time in history its ever been used this way in “ground breaking” math. Does “ground breaking” mean Junk Science?
  • Inmarsat Satellite company owners have earned more in stock spiking from their claims they figured out where plane ended up, than the US Government has spent on their own investigation of the missing Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370.
  • 18 days later; no plane, no debris, claims of “beyond a reasonable doubt” by satellite company, but no proof. Is this really “junk science”? After numerous claims of sighting of jet debris from 3 countries using high tech satellites is it time to rethink our reliance on sciences that are wrought with human error of interpretation?

Its been there for nearly 5 days in headlines around the world in black in white. Most of us read it but skipped over this detail consumed with the bigger newest headlines, “All have been Lost” when reading the announcement made by The Malaysian Prime Minster upon his own belief that satellite company Inmarsat had accurately concluded that the doomed Flight #Mh340 vanished into the southern Indian ocean, directly heading for the South Pole. But when the news is sorted out and facts and details are sifted through , there it is , the satellite company responsible for promising to have located the last known location of the missing flight MH370, also states something in plain sight…they made a mistake in their previous calculations just a week earlier when they projected that the plane could have flown as far north as Kazakhstan ( formerly part of Russia) but changed that assumption to a location thousands of miles away. The obvious was in plain sight, by their own admission, they had already made errors on calculations conducted during one of the most mysterious events in recent world history, in this case, their calculation may have been thousands of miles off. What the press read and played out was that Inmarsat come up with the “right answer”, forgetting quickly they had just made a huge error by their own admission.

Swell of satellite experts question accuracy and reliability, while major news headlines praise the satellite company.

Which got us to ask the question; what if the company providing the most important relied detail in the search; Inmarsat satellite, could still have made mistakes? We quickly began to investigate this and stumbled upon a bunch of experts in satellite and mobile consulting like Palo Alto USA based TMF Associates and others on the ‘net. Chatting it up in forums were other engineers, physicists, former aviation experts, and mobile technology experts who had lots of things that seemed to challenge what we were reading in the headlines. And at times, contradict immediately what we were reading in the news. As we read more and more reports of questions posed by experts , some of them were shocking and contradicting some of the constant barrage of headlines to congratulate the satellite company for its “groundbreaking math” in finding the supposed final location of Flight MH370. With details about technology we would need to seek out the experts . The most obvious question posed there by the experts was about those arcs many were seeing on television reports and in newspapers.

What if they are wrong? Satellite Company Inmarsat reversed position on where MH370 plane flight may be

PIng Data created by Inmarsat shows their calculated probable arc where missing flight MH370 may have been located at 8:11, but where are the arcs for earlier ping times?

Missing Information: We were told where the plane was at 8:11 AM, but where is the ping data showing where it was at 7:11, 6:11 AM, 5:11 AM, 4:11 AM, 3:11 AM, 2:11 AM? One of the first questions brought up by experts was ‘where is the ping data from the other hourly intervals?

If the final arc could give us the location of where the plane ended up; ping data and plot points could be shown for every hour before going back to 1 :19 AM when the plane went off radar. And these plot points when put together could give us some of the possible locations of where the plane flew from So where is that data? This seemed to fly right over the head of the media and journalists, it seemed no one asked this question. But not the engineers and consultants in satellite aviation. They were outright appalled that this data was missing and no one in the media or the world was asking ‘where is that data? Certainly knowing where the plane had been for hours before and its path could tell us lots of details for an investigation that has theories from suicide, terrorism, hijacking and even mechanical error being question. So plotting out where the plane had just been for hours seems logical to be an important bit of information that is right out in plain sight as missing. A few newspapers including the Washington Post apparently inadvertently drew in other arc circles to demonstrate these pings at other hours and even on CNN a demonstration incorrectly implied that many circles and arcs being drawn were from the previous ping data from previous hours Not true says many satellite experts since this data to this date has been shown to the media or to the public.

The math formula may be right but if one shred of input data is incorrect, the plane could be actually thousands of miles away.

This already happened to Inmarsat when they admitted had missed critical assumptions in their original data calculations and plotted that the plane could be as far away as Kazakhstan or as south as nearly Antarctica. Now that is one wide range in the first place when you are pinpointing a location of a 777 plane and narrow it down to a stretch on an arc of several thousand miles. Once Inmarsat dug deeper with their engineers they looked over things and realized they had left out a few variables, they changed the public statement. The plane could not be thousands of miles up on the arc in Central Asia, it was south back thousands of miles off the coast of Australia.

Data is information points that construct a math formula. You can have the correct math but if the data varying like speed you get a different answer every time speed changes. If we want to calculate signal speed from a satellite, we know that light waves travel at 186,000 miles per hour. In 1/1000 light travels 1860 miles, just about the distance from the satellite to Malaysia. so if a ping takes 2/1000 of a second that means the satellite is half the distance away.

This is NOT GPS technology, the satellite company says their technology is not even designed to locate plans and this is the first time its ever been used this way.

Inmarsat is the British company that carried out the satellite analysis that determined the plane went into the southern Indian Ocean. Malaysia’s Prime Minister said Monday the plane was last tracked over the water, west of Perth, Australia. There is “no way” the plane went north, said Chris McLaughlin, a senior vice president at Inmarsat. This of course contradicted the company’s earlier information it had released showing a map where the likely last ping from the plane was, clearly showing it assumed it could have been as far north as Kazakhstan. MH370 search map 315x236 What if they are wrong? Satellite Company Inmarsat reversed position on where MH370 plane flight may be

Inmarsat retracted this earlier map concerning the plane’s possible location as far north as Russia and Central Asia

The route into the southern Indian Ocean was the “best fit” with the signals the plane sent to a communications satellite.

But he cautioned to the press, “Nothing is final.”

“We’re not Earth observation satellites, we’re data satellites. So it will require a lot of different skills, a lot of different people, not least the naked eye, to finally confirm what happened to 370.”

McLaughlin said the mathematics-based process used by Inmarsat and Britain’s Air Accidents Investigation Branch was “groundbreaking.” The new calculations underwent a peer review process with space agency experts and contributions by Boeing, he said.

19 days later no plane, no debris, claims by satellite company, but no proof. Is this really junk science?

Experts question how the satellite company assumed the signal was not affected by environmental or physical factors like weather, or concrete or even one expert asked what would effect of a sinking plane only 200 miles from the satellite be, could it create a signal slowed down . This would make it appear so that the plane is thousands of miles away, when its really just a few hundred miles away. The number of variables that would affect data could change the results say the experts so would mean this event could have dozens of possible variables that could effect the data. Which is exactly the mistake the satellite company made the first time around, when they estimated the plane could be as far north on an arc as Kazakhstan, or as far south as off the coast of Perth Australia. If you are guessing, this would be hardly science and more like junk science. And why did they change the location from the north to south, because of the variables ( the satellites speed vs. airplanes speed and resulting doppler effect ) was not taken into account. Our point here is besides speed are there not other variables that could affect the location of the plane. This is the question other satellite experts point out could be certainly the case. And miscalculations can result in huge variation on how the entire investigation is handled, if the plane is in another location the investigation could shift to terrorism or in the current proposed location, the notion of a suicide. That uncertainty of the potential of worst kind of terrorism alone and the families of the passengers of flight MH370 deserve these questions to be asked and dug into. malaysian airlines mh370 315x177 What if they are wrong? Satellite Company Inmarsat reversed position on where MH370 plane flight may be

Protestors march in China to demand that Malaysia turn over satellite data to Chinese Government for inspection.

When we see especially families of passengers on the missing flight MH370 s who have reached the same conclusion; that there is not any proof that not only “all are lost”but that the satellite company who released data that created this conclusion has not proven its reliability having changed its position of the possible end of flight by thousand of miles already. Sadly much of the difficulties of getting to the facts of missing flight MH370 is about gleaning through the pubic relations posturing that is going on. And here we have started to sift through a seemingly great corporate PR story which was mounting; a public satellite company, stockholders anxiously awaiting to see if their military services and aviation satellite communications company Inmarsat will come up with the right answer, because it could be worth millions in spikes on daily trading of the company’s stock, literally. With facts like that woven in the myriad of stories coming out from every direction, it gets even murkier to wade through the mystery of missing flight MH370 with its 239 passengers. and crew.


"DJ Tanman" is living a dream as Hollywood writer/producer whose passions span his ventures in his fashion channel, motorsports , action sports, and generally living life on the edge with adventures to last a lifetime. His work in writing/creating and productions includes many action sports TV series with Momentum for Fox Sports as well as reality shows for CBS/ABC. His most TV series recent being BYOB-Bring Your Own Board TV. He has turned his endeavors and passion in writing to charity driven causes and campaigns and hoping to spotlight more celebrities and real life stories that have a compassionate side to them. He is a self proclaimed "closet" nerd having studied calculus, physics ,engineering, business administration, classic music, screenwriting and film studies at colleges including Northeastern, American Film Institute and UCLA.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

MH370: At last someone (a Pulitzer Prize winner) mentioned Altantuya

Ref: USA Today

Malaysia's bumbling ruling elite: 


Lewis M. Simons 5:40 p.m. EDT March 23, 2014

Fiasco over missing airliner just the latest example of country's 
inept leadership.

As errors, misstatements, retractions and head-scratching
rationalizations tumble over each other in the case of Malaysia
Airlines Flight 370, the world is coming to recognize what the
country has known for decades — that Malaysia's leaders are
accustomed to getting away with murder.

Sometimes figuratively: For example, with elections looming and
Prime Minister Najib Razak losing popularity, top opposition leader
Anwar Ibrahim recently was sentenced to five years in prison on a
sodomy charge. Two years ago, Anwar, who enjoys support in
Washington, was acquitted after spending six years in prison on the
same charge.

And sometimes perhaps literally: In October 2006, the gruesome
remains of a human body were discovered on a remote hilltop outside
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia's principal city. There was no corpse,
really, just hunks of flesh and shattered bone. DNA determined that
the victim was a 28-year-old Mongolian woman who had been involved
in a long love affair with one of Najib's closest advisers.

These instances of real-life political shenanigans and
pulp-fiction-style crime share deep cultural and behavioral traits
with Malaysia's clumsy handling of the mysterious Boeing 777 and the
239 people on board.

Spinning dubious stories

In the cases of the murder and the missing plane, Najib and other
political leaders have felt free to spin their own dubious stories.
The big difference is that this time, the world is watching as the
leaders repeatedly are caught in their own web of claims and
denials, allegations and refutations.

Where does this arbitrary political culture come from?

In 1979, following traumatic, bloody rioting between Malays and the
substantial ethnic Chinese minority, the government granted a broad
array of privileges to Malays, in effect ensuring them of perpetual

This quota system also enabled the ruling party, which has held
office for 60 years, to ride roughshod over the facts, as we now see
regarding the missing plane. Questions such as how two Iranians
carrying false passports were allowed to board were bungled. The
matter of the jetliner turning off course went unreported.

A full understanding of Malaysia's ineptitude on the world stage
today isn't possible without recognizing the power elite's belief in
its open-ended unassailability.

Until the jetliner flickered off Malaysian radar screens, that
misplaced cockiness was best seen in the case of the murdered woman,
Altantuya Shaariibuu. She had accompanied Najib, then defense
minister, and his adviser, Abdul Razak Baginda, her lover, on a trip
to Paris to purchase two French-built submarines and an overhauled
Spanish sub for Malaysia's Navy.

The package was worth nearly $1 billion. French authorities are
investigating whether the defense company gave a $100 million
"commission" to Baginda. Shaariibuu, according to witnesses
at her murder trial, demanded a $500,000 slice for her services as

Blind eye to justice

Once her remains were discovered, the short-reined domestic press
turned a blind eye on the prime minister's evident connections,
which he blithely denied. Baginda, an Oxford Ph.D., was imprisoned
on charges of abetting the woman's murder.

A year later, the high court acquitted Baginda. He left the country.
A private investigator he had hired quickly filed a stunning
declaration in court, implicating the prime minster and his wife in
organizing and covering up the crime. Baginda quoted a text message
the prime minister allegedly sent him after the woman's remains were
discovered: "I am seeing IGP (inspector general of police) at 11
a.m. today … matter will be solved ... be cool."

Within 24 hours, the private detective, without explanation,
replaced his declaration with a new one that erased all references
to the prime minister. Then he fled Malaysia.

In both documents, the detective identified two junior police
officers on the prime minister's security detail as having carried
out the killing. They were arrested, tried and sentenced to hang.
That never happened. Last August, the pair were acquitted.

After eight years, the murder case remains unresolved.

Anwar is in limbo, appealing his sodomy conviction yet again.

Najib, prime minister for five years, until now has remained aloof
and secure from the world's stares. With the disappearance of Flight
370 and the world pointing repeatedly to all the faulty information
coming out of Malaysia, business as usual finally might be coming to
an end.

Lewis M. Simons, a Pulitzer Prize winner, was based in Malaysia with
his wife and two daughters, who were born there.

 Ref: Al Jazeera:

Malaysia Airlines flight: 'This is not a normal investigation'

Malaysia's vanishing airplane catastrophe exposes the country's 
political and social fault lines.

Last updated: 20 Mar 2014 06:01
Zarina Banu

Zarina Banu is a freelance writer, focusing on economics and 
business-policy in the Asia-Pacific.
A catalogue of backtracking is defining the investigation thus far, 
writes Banu [EPA]

The crisis over Malaysia's missing Flight MH370 would surely test 
any government. But Malaysia's handling of the search, investigation 

and communication with the outside world has thrown it into an 
uncomfortable spotlight and caught it severely off guard.

The catastrophe is exposing the deep fault lines characterising the 
country's political economy. Since independence from the British in 
1957, Malaysia's ruling elite have built and reinforced a political 
system that has institutionalised their cultural and economic 


The system is so entrenched, it shapes and permeates all layers of 
Malaysian society. Now we're seeing it play out in how the 
administration is managing and communicating the investigation to 
the rest of the world.

A catalogue of backtracking is defining the investigation thus far, 
frustrating the families of those on board and provoking a backlash 
of anti-government feeling.

We've seen Malaysian officials contradict each other over vital 
early details about MH370's satellite communications systems. Acting 

Transport Minister Hishamuddin Hussein and Malaysian Airlines CEO, 
Ahmad Jauhari Yahya, have disagreed over whether the system was 
switched off before or after the flight's co-pilot uttered the now 
infamous signoff: "Alright goodnight" to ground control on 
the morning of March 8 when the plane disappeared.

Consequently, the pilot and co-pilot, Zaharie Shah and Fariq Ab 
Hamid, became the first suspects, in a possible plot to sabotage or 
hijack the Boeing 777, which led to bewilderment and distress 
amongst the families.

Inconsistencies also stood out in the police investigation. At one 
point, Hishamuddin said police officers had visited the homes of the 

pilots as early as March 9, the day after the aircraft vanished. But 

police chief Khalid Abu Bakar then confused the issue by saying 
officers had in fact not gone to the pilots' homes.

Things were muddled from the start. The hunt for the ill-fated jet 
began on March 8 in the South China Sea, was abandoned and diverted 
to the Andaman Sea and Indian Ocean.

Malaysians are concerned about the state of readiness of their 
military, after radar tracked an unidentified object moving west 
over peninsular Malaysia on March 8 and the air force took no 
further action to ascertain what that object was.

Sources close to the government have said, off-the-record since they 
are not authorised to talk to the media, that they are unsure how to 
manage the message.

Sure, it is a trial that would test any government, agency or 
communications team. With a daunting search involving more than 20 
countries and stretching across some 6.2 million square miles, it's 
like looking for a needle in a haystack.

Yet, there are some fundamentals here that Malaysian government 
agencies aren't following. What they should be doing is: Verify the 
incoming information; unify the message; decide which agency takes 
control of its dissemination and keep the families informed at all 

The baffling stream of information must be heart-breaking for the 
relatives of the 227 passengers and crew. Of those, 154 are Chinese, 
a ratio which has prompted the mainland to rally behind their cause. 

Families of the victims have been filmed shouting at Malaysian 
officials as their grievance builds over the lack of information and 
disorienting turn of events.

China's Foreign Ministry Spokesman, Hong Lei, has even urged 
Malaysia to provide, "comprehensive and correct 

My message to the government would be: Yes, this is not a normal 
investigation, but instead of playing victim to events, leverage the 

nexus of abnormality, tragedy and interest in the story to recreate 
a new Malaysia.

Malaysian government under microscope

Let's put it into context.

The global glare of publicity is landing on an administration deeply 
uncomfortable with any level of scrutiny.

Malaysia's ruling party keeps tight control of all aspects of 
domestic media - it is either state-sponsored, choked by 
authorities, or opposition-led. Media outlets or editors that dare 
question the administration perish by the wayside, or are ordered 
back in line.

At election time, the New Straits Times newspaper, a mouthpiece for 
the ruling coalition will be awash with barely rewritten government 
press releases, eulogising about the "achievements" of those 
in power.

What has this to do with Flight MH370? This stranglehold on free 
expression has nurtured a government unused to being cross-examined 
in public and more accustomed to changing its mind and message at 

Moreover, the lack of oxygen given to rational democratic debate 
within Malaysia has fostered a cosseted leadership that either goes 
on the attack or retreats to its ideological ivory tower when it 
feels imperiled.

To enforce its intolerance of dissent, the Malaysian government 
deploys powerful tools of control. Until September 2011, the 
Internal Security Act (ISA) was a catch-all deterrent to those who 
spoke out openly against the government.

It sanctioned detention without trial and swept many opposition 
members into solitary confinement. In its place, authorities have of 

late been commandeering the Sedition Act to silence critics with 
increasing vigour.

This insidiousness has come to haunt the Malaysian government in its 
current time of need. True, as Hishamuddin said, "This is not a 
normal investigation".

But his and his cohorts' mishandling of crisis communications has 
made the government look shifty instead of perhaps being just plain 
incompetent, adding rocket fuel to the plethora of theories on the 
plane's whereabouts.

Hishammuddin  - himself -  is political royalty: He's the current 
prime minister's cousin, the son of Malaysia's third prime minister 
and nephew of its second. With his blood ties, he could easily be 
Malaysia's next prime minister.

Ethnicity and connections are highly likely to determine one's fate 
in Malaysia. Lucrative affirmative action policies promote ethnic 
Malays over the more than 30 percent Chinese and Indian minorities. 
The situation translates into each Malaysian being born with a 
semi-pre-ordained destiny - boosted by state coffers - that will 
decide which university you choose, what jobs you get, how many 
children you have, or even whether you end up in the cabinet.

Meanwhile, the elite have enriched themselves through a cosy network 
of crony capitalism that venomously lashes out at those who threaten 

its existence. Malaysia ranks third, behind only Russia and Hong 
Kong, in The Economist's crony capitalism index 2014, a list of 
"countries where politically-connected businessmen are most 
likely to prosper".

It's a sad indictment for a country that was once celebrated as 
having as much economic potential as South Korea.

Seize control of the situation

Social media, Asia's rising economic clout and irreversible 
globalisation mean the insular behaviour of the Malaysian government 

is long past its sell by date.

A Malaysian love of communication has neatly translated into a 
wholehearted adoption of the internet and social media - and with 
great effect. More and more Malaysians are turning to alternative 
web sites like Malaysiakini, The Malaysia Insider and Free Malaysia 
Today to source their news.

Indeed, the opposition's popularity partly rests on the delivery of 
its message through Facebook, SMS and whatsapp. Last year, the 
opposition's frontline social media campaign helped it wrestle away 
the government's crucial two thirds parliamentary majority, needed 
to change the constitution.

It's time the ruling coalition acknowledged that its supremacy - 
which has benefitted the few at the cost of many - needs a serious 

As a communications professional, my message to the government would 

be: Yes, this is not a normal investigation, but instead of playing 
victim to events, leverage the nexus of abnormality, tragedy and 
interest in the story to recreate a new Malaysia.

Zarina Banu is a freelance writer, focusing on economics and 
business-policy in the Asia-Pacific.

The views expressed in this article are the author's own and do not 
necessarily reflect Al Jazeera's editorial policy.