KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 20, 2014
Defence Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein today stressed that the trilateral ties between Malaysia, Australia and China in the search for missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 would not be affected by speculation.
“From before, we only referred to corroborated and verified information and I believe we will continue to use this template.
“We are still very focused in our search and the relationship between Australia, China and Malaysia will help in making sure we remain focused in what we want to do.”
He said this in response to questions regarding a report that hackers attempted to send classified information from Malaysian authorities involved in the search to China.
However, Hishammuddin was unable to comment on the matter directly, saying he was unaware of such a report and that it fell under another ministry.
“The deployment of assets is the responsibility of the Defence Ministry and that is my personal concern at the moment because the assets that are to be deployed for MH370 are very specialised for deep sea search and there are not many parties out there that have the capacity and the equipment for us to use.”
Hishammuddin pointed out that today marked the 165th day in the search for MH370.
“While our nation is still coping with the grief and shock of the recent MH17 tragedy, we can assure you that the passengers and families of MH370 have not left our hearts.
“Words mean little but the families and friends of those on board MH370 will forever remain in our thoughts and prayers.”
He said the Cabinet had today discussed the next phase of the search which involved cost sharing between Australia and Malaysia.
“It is important to note that Cabinet appreciates and is thankful for Australia’s contribution thus far in the search efforts for MH370.
“We are also thankful for to the Chinese government in their commitment to the trilateral agreement that has been established.”
He said Transport Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai, Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister Datuk Hamzah Zainudin and Deputy Defence Minister Datuk Rahim Bakri would leave for Canberra next week to attend a meeting between the three countries.
“In addition, the Malaysian delegation will also sign a Memorandum of Understanding between the Malaysia and Australia.”
Regarding the deployment of assets, Hishammuddin said the KD Mutiara had encountered starboard engine problems and was on its way to Jakarta to evaluate the extent of the damages while the Bunga Mas 6 was on its way back to Malaysia after being in the search area for four months.
“Petronas together with DEFTECH and Pheonix International will deploy a Prosas Side Scan Sonar which will be mounted on the GO Pheonix mother vessel to join the search and recovery works for MH370. “This vessel will depart in the first week of September to the search site to undertake the pursuant sub surface search after the bathymetric analysis.”
On the search site, Hishammuddin said ATSB was continuing to refine the search area alongside the Strategy Search Group comprising NTSB Australia, Boeing, AAIB UK, Inmarsat and Thales DSTO.
Regarding those who had siphoned money from the accounts of MH370 victims, Hishammuddin said it was unforgivable and those responsible would be brought to justice.