Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Calling for Rationality Over Anger

Over three weeks after Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 disappeared on March 8, Malaysians are losing patience in dealing with mainland Chinese anger.

Granted the Malaysian side has botched up the investigation, giving conflicting information or misinformation, including the last words heard from the cockpit, but finding a plane that turned off its transponder makes it difficult to find it in the ocean. As one Australian official said, it's like finding a needle in a haystack, except they don't know where they haystack is.

Nevertheless, the Chinese continue to demand the truth, claiming they are being lied to and have protested outside the Malaysian embassy in Beijing calling Kuala Lumpur authorities "murderers".

Some relatives of those missing have even flown to the Malaysian capital and held a press conference decorated with Chinese flags, banners and condemned Malaysians.

"Let me ask you something," said a Malaysian government official. "Which country do you think will allow others from another country to come and let them stay in a great hotel and allow them to throw insults? We've been very nice already. I hope they realize that."

James Chin, a political science professor at the Malaysian campus of Monash University, said initially Malaysians were sympathetic towards the Chinese.

"But marching to the Malaysian embassy was the turning point," he said. "It's hypocrisy. The Chinese won't dare do anything like this against their own government, which is one of the most opaque in the world."

The relatives of the victims were doing their own version of petitioning to higher authorities for redress, which it seems the Chinese government tacitly authorized, as it took the pressure off Beijing.

However it's become embarrassing for China to see its people continue to demand justice while other countries' victims' families have been relatively quiet. It got to the point where a commentary in China Daily has told relatives of the victims to face the reality that their loved ones are gone.

"We should not let anger prevail over facts and rationality," it said. "We need to comply with the fundamental norms of a civilized society and need to show the demeanour of a great power... Although the Malaysian government's handling of the crisis has been quite clumsy, we need to understand this is perhaps the most bizarre incident in Asian civil aviation history. It is understandable that as a developing country, the Malaysia government felt completely at a loss."

The commentary written by Mei Xinyu, a researcher at the commerce ministry institute who is known for his analyses of international disputes, added that irrational words and behaviour would "not help matters" and that relatives should prepare funeral arrangements.

It is not known how the opinion piece was received -- if the relatives decided to direct their anger at Mei. But since it was written in English, it hasn't touched a nerve -- yet. Nevertheless it is a voice of reason, that after over three weeks, and no sign or message from any of the 239 passengers most probably means they are not coming back.

In the meantime the race to find any wreckage from MH370 will take along time, with no definitive information to go on. All they are finding so far is lots of garbage, which is hampering the investigation, but also highlights our terrible habit of throwing so much crap into the ocean and not looking after the environment we live in.

If the Chinese government doesn't direct these victims' relatives to tone down their anger and focus on moving forward, people elsewhere are going to have another reason to resent mainlanders...

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