Breach of security led to MH370 tragedy?

A LOAD of questions are being asked as an international effort gets well underway to locate Malaysia Airlines MH370, which went missing at 2.40am on Saturday with 227 passengers and 12 crew aboard.

Topping the list of queries is the startling revelation that two passengers had boarded the aircraft using stolen passports, one belonging to an Austrian and the other an Italian.

It has also emerged that the two, who impersonated the bona fide passport holders, had allegedly bought their tickets at the same time in Thailand.

The passports they used were also allegedly stolen in Thailand over the past two years.

Understandably, Malaysian authorities are looking closely at this most suspicious turn of events that defies answers at this point in time.

There is also a report from China that a man who was supposed to be on board was safe at home.

The Immigration Department and the Department of Civil Aviation have no answers as to how two men with questionable documents could have got on board the Boeing 777-200ER without being detected.

Home Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi should leave no stone unturned in his pursuit of the truth, at least to prevent a recurrence and to restore confidence in the system employed.

The disappearance of MH370 has raised difficult questions about security protocol at airports in Malaysia, with Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak promising that efforts would be made to review such measures being most welcome.

MAS also has to review its security procedures, especially on passengers on code-share flights such as MH370.

Malaysia has had an impeccable record in terms of flight safety, especially as far as its flagship carrier is concerned. Its planes have recorded few major technical faults with many lauding its ability to keep its aircraft in tip-top condition.

And so, all things being equal, investigators may be looking at a lapse in security as the more likely cause of MH370's mysterious disappearance over the Gulf of Thailand.

Of course, all this is pure conjecture at this point, based solely on facts available to us.

Families of passengers who were on the flight, both in China from which the bulk of the passengers came from and in Malaysia where 38 passengers and crew were from, are also asking questions about the dearth of answers from the authorities on what has happened to MH370.

Understandably, MAS has few of the answers that many want as the carrier itself has little to work on besides data on what the aircraft's last known position was.

The sooner we get to know what really happened to the flight, the better. As it is, reports from various regional sources on the discovery of oil slicks and possible debris have led to confusion among families of the passengers.

A final word on the incident will be the alleged "harassment" that families of the passengers have suffered at the hands of the media.

The media here, and in China where people had allegedly threatened journalists over the manner in which they handled themselves since Saturday, should conduct a review of where professionalism ends and where respect for privacy begins.