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Ten years on: Son of flight attendant on MH370 wants closure, an end to ‘wild’ theories

Ten years on: Son of flight attendant on MH370 wants closure, an end to ‘wild’ theories
"Ten years on: Son of flight attendant on MH370 wants closure, an end to ‘wild’ theories"

As one generation draws a line, the next is seeking answers as to what had happened to the ill-fated Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 on March 8, 2014.

Hareez Danni Junaidi was 11 when his father, Junaidi Mohd Kassim, a flight attendant on board MH370, went missing, along with 238 other people. The Boeing 777-200ER jetliner was bound for Beijing, China, from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, when it disappeared in the early hours of the morning.

Ten years later, Hareez is taking up the torch from his mother, Norazlinda Ayob, as they grapple with a mix of emotions – grief, longing, and an unwavering hope for closure.

“I was only 11 when the plane went missing. While sad and hurt at the time, I did not think much of why, or how the plane disappeared,” said 21-year-old Hareez, who is taking his diploma in management at a local university in Shah Alam, Selangor.

“I did not have many questions at the time, but now that I am older, I need to know what happened to my father.

“My mum has fought long and hard this past decade. I hope the transport minister (Anthony Loke) lives up to his promise to resume the search.”

Norazlinda said it has been exhausting, clinging to hope for the past 10 years, and was glad Hareez is now old enough to carry on the fight.

“There is no closure. There is not even a grave or a memorial for us to pay our respects to our loved ones,” said Norazlinda.

“Those who are not affected by this tragedy do not understand the pain, frustration, and suffering that we have gone through.

“We were delighted when Loke became the transport minister in 2018, as the then opposition had been very supportive of our cause. But when they became the government, nothing happened, and we have had several changes in government since then.”

She added that several private companies had been searching for the plane without help from the Malaysian government.

Hareez and his mother Norazlinda at NU Empire Shopping Gallery in Subang Jaya on March 3.
Hareez and his mother Norazlinda at NU Empire Shopping Gallery in Subang Jaya on March 3.

On March 3, Loke told a memorial to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the tragedy that he would ask the Cabinet for approval to sign a new contract with the United States-based marine robotics company Ocean Infinity Ltd for a “no-cure, no-fee” deal to resume the search for the aircraft. The previous contract ended in 2018.

Based in Texas, Ocean Infinity said on March 6, that it had new scientific evidence of MH370’s final resting place, and had submitted a “no-cure, no-fee” proposal to resume the search.

For Hareez and many others affected by the tragedy, the government’s decision to suspend the search for MH370 in 2018 was a devastating blow.

Hareez said he hoped the government would agree to the new deal as it did not have to pay anything if the search was unsuccessful.

“I hope it does not become a blame game between the government and Ocean Infinity as to who should make the first move to resume the search,” said Hareez, who added that his younger sister, Hani, had just finished her SPM examinations.

“She, too, is affected by the tragedy but does not want to be interviewed. It would be good to have some closure as soon as possible.”

Hareez said he is also fed up with all the wild theories about the plane’s disappearance.

“Even when I was younger, my friends asked me about it, but I could not answer them. There are countless books, documentaries, and podcasts about the plane,” said Hareez.

“Some of the theories are so far-fetched and crazy, but many believe them. People are making money out of a tragedy simply by speculating as to what had happened to MH370.

“No one thinks about how these ‘stories’ affect the families. That is very sad. The search needs to go on, so we can have closure.”

Meanwhile, Grace Nathan, whose mother Anne Daisy was a passenger on board MH370, said she appreciated Loke for attending the memorial service, as it showed his sincerity in helping the families.

“Loke has been sympathetic to us and has shown strong support. He stayed till the end (on Sunday) and pledged to get the Cabinet to approve a new search. I am optimistic,” she said.

Grace’s father, V.P.R. Nathan, hoped the plane would be found during his lifetime as “modern vehicles need minimal crew to search underwater”.

“If the search resumes soon, there is hope that the plane would be found,” said Nathan, 67.

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