Sunday, 9 March 2014

Timeline of missing plane raises questions



Oil slick in sea between Vietnam and Malaysia may be first hint of vanished aircraft

KOTA KINABALU: As the search for Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 continues, uncertainty has crept in over the time the aircraft disappeared from the radar and how quickly the search began.

MAS has said that the plane with 227 passengers aboard, including two infants, and an all-Malaysian crew of 12, took off at 12.41am Malaysia time, and it disappeared from air traffic control radar in Subang at 2.40am.

That timeline suggests that the plane was in the air for two hours – long enough for it to fly not only across the Gulf of Thailand but also far north across Vietnam, aviation authorities note.

Flightradar 24, an online aircraft tracking service, said that the last radar contact had been at 1.19am, less than 40 minutes after the flight began.

The missing plane, a Boeing 777-200, is said to be equipped with a transponder that regularly transmitted its position, as calculated from the global positioning system of satellites.

The last recorded position of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 was 150 kilometres northeast of Kuala Terengganu, Fredrik Lindahl, the chief executive of Flightradar24, wrote in an email to The New York Times.

That position is a little less than halfway across the entrance of the Gulf of Thailand from northern Malaysia and toward southernmost Vietnam.

A Malaysia Airlines spokesman said on Saturday evening that the last conversation between the flight crew and air traffic control in Malaysia had been around 1.30am, but he reiterated that the plane had not disappeared from air traffic control systems in Subang until 2.40am.

The New York Times report said with no new information about the missing plane, China’s civil aviation authority has urged the Malaysian government to be more forthcoming.

“The Civil Aviation Administration of China has urged the Malaysian civil aviation authority to clarify the situation of flight MH370 as quickly as possible, and to brief the Chinese side as quickly as possible,” it quoted a report by the Chinese state-run news agency Xinhua which cited an unnamed Chinese aviation official.

“It also urged Malaysia Airlines to provide active assistance to families of passengers in accordance with the regulations in international civil aviation covenants.”

Meanwhile, Civil Aviation Administration of Vietnam director, Lai Xuan Thanh, said a 20km-long oil slick spotted between Malaysia and Vietnam this afternoon may be from the missing aircraft.

“An AN26 aircraft of the Vietnam Navy has discovered an oil slick about 20 kilometres in the search area, which is suspected of being a crashed Boeing aircraft – we have announced that information to Singapore and Malaysia and we continue the search,” Lai was quoted as saying by The New York Times.

He said he did not know whether the slick was closer to the Malaysian or Vietnam side of the entrance to the Gulf of Thailand.

The report said the last coordinates automatically transmitted by the aircraft were from near the midpoint between the two countries.

The discovery came as an international team of rescuers from, among others, Vietnam, Malaysia, China, the United States, Singapore and the Philippines search for the Beijing-bound aircraft which vanished after taking off from Kuala Lumpur International Airport at 12.41am.

“Vietnam has ordered airplanes and military ships to help in the search and rescue … the possibility of an accident is high,” Lai said,.

Lt Col Pham Hong Soi, the head of the propaganda department of the Vietnam Navy for the region near the crash site, said that one rescue vessel had already been ordered to sea and two more had been made ready for departure.

China Central Television said that according to Chinese air traffic control officials, the aircraft never entered Chinese airspace.

The passengers included 154 citizens from China or Taiwan, 38 Malaysians, seven Indonesians, six Australians, five Indians, four French and three Americans, as well as two citizens each from New Zealand, Ukraine and Canada and one each from Russia, Italy, the Netherlands and Austria.

The airline said that it was notifying the next-of-kin of the passengers and crew. Hundreds of family members gathered in rooms set aside for them at a Beijing hotel, and at least two medical personnel went in to monitor them, news reports said.

Boeing said in a statement that it was assembling a team of technical experts to advise the national authorities investigating the disappearance of the aircraft.

Speaking on the search and rescue efforts, Prime Minister Najib Razak said: ”Our thoughts and prayers are with those who are missing on flight MH370.

“An extensive search and rescue mission is underway. We are grateful for the support in this effort from around the world.

“Fifteen aircraft and nine ships are currently searching for the missing plane. Our priority now is to widen the search area and provide support to relatives of those missing.”

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Dompok won’t be allowed to fade away


UPKO to reward departing president with honorary title as party prepares for future without Dompok in charge - Borneo Insider

PENAMPANG: United Pasokmomogun Kadazandusun Murut Oragnisation (Upko) is planning to appoint Bernard Dompok as the party’s Honorary President when he step down as president on March 21.
Deputy president Wilfred Madius Tangau, who will assumed the post of acting president on the same day, said he has made the proposal to the party’s supreme council as this will be the right to do for a leader who had served Upko well.
Speaking to the press after Dompok’s announcement that he was stepping down as president here today, Tangau pointed out that the departing president is only stepping down from his party leadership position.
“To me, he still be our top leader. Already, there are very sensible proposals, that the Supreme Council invoke Article 63 (i) and (ii) of our party constitution, and make him Upko Honorary President.”
“I for one will personally make the proposal when the Supreme Council next meets. It is only right to do so,” Tangau said. He explained Artilce 63(i) and (ii) of that the party provides for the appointment of an honorary president.
“Words cannot express how sad we all are that he is stepping down. I believe the majority of Upko leaders, what more the members, will find it tough to digest, if they can understand or believe it at all. Such reaction speaks volume about him as a person, but even more as Upko leader. “
“I also know that despite all his great achievements, he will continue to conquer new heights. His vision and work rate is second to none. And Upko will be with him all the way,” Tangau said.
Tangau said that as acting president he would continue Upko’s tradition of speaking up for the people of Sabah and he would work even harder than before, “to stay true north”.
“I never dreamt to be in this position. But if am given the responsibility, I will draw strength from the support of all the members. And especially the proven guiding hands of Dompok,” he said.
Dompok has meanwhile urged party members to rally behind Tangau, calling him the right person to lead the party into the future.
He said members must show the Tuaran MP the same support he enjoyed as he had all the ingredients required “to continue the work all of us have done together over the 20 years”.
The party’s founder diplomatically manoeuvred around questions about senior party leader, Ewon Ebin, who was not at the press conference at his Nabalu Puru Lodge near here that attended by party supreme council members.
Asked why Ebin was absent, Dompok said he understood that the former was busy with his ministerial duties in Kuala Lumpur.
But questions remain over how those who supported the Ranau MP in a bitter tussle for the party’s deputy president post last year will adjust to the new hierarchy in the party.
Tangau won the election by a razor thin margin and Ebin now has no position in the party though he is a Federal Minister.
Dompok said he saw positives in the party election last year as it was the first time was hotly-contested and showed that there was keen debate and diverging views which was healthy for the party.
The event, he said, could be viewed as a new learning curve for the party for a vigorous and healthy culture in party elections.
“The winner in any party election must be the party itself. I thank all party leaders for the maturity shown in the aftermath of the election. We have passed the test, Dompok said.
The departing UPKO leader also spoke of the party’s contribution to trying to find a solution to the perennial problem of illegal immigrant in Sabah which had been acknowledged by Prime Minister Najib Razak during his visit here last year.
He pointed out that Upko had highlighted the development needs of Sabah and the conspicuous imbalance between Sabah and the rest of the country in many aspects of national life, not only physical but economic, educational, and religious.
“We have to do so with courage, sometimes to the point of becoming irritants to our colleagues but these are realities of political life. There are instances when we need to be pragmatic. But at the end of the day, your compass must always be pointing true north. Otherwise you will never reach your destination,” Dompok said.
On his retirement plans, Dompok said he would remain active in the work of several non-governmental organisations as well as in Upko when necessary or appropriate. -BI

Monday, 3 March 2014

Dompok setting the stage to exit?


This articles is from Borneo Insider
His deputy Wilfred Tangau is taking on more of his boss’s responsibilities as the former federal minister takes a back seat on party matters.
KOTA KINABALU: All eyes are on Bernard Dompok, the United Pasokmomogun Kadazandusun Murut Organisation (Upko) president, ever since he started delegating duties to the party’s second-in-command, Wilfred Tangau.
Will he step down as party president? Is he planning a career change? Is he disgusted with Barisan Nasional’s increasingly divisive brand of politics? What’s his next move?
Having lost in two general elections Dompok seems to be fighting a lonely battle to keep the party relevant and in the forefront of Sabahans demands for a more equitable federation.
It’s been a long hard struggle. First he lost his Moyog state seat in 1999 when he was Sabah Chief Minister and in last year’s general election, he was unseated by PKR’s Darrel Leiking from the Penampang parliamentary seat. He was then the  Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister.
mptuaran22Another blow to his leadership was when his choice of Tuaran MP Wilfred Madius Tangau join the Federal Cabinet went unheeded. Instead Ranau MP Ewon Ebin was made Science, Technology and Innovation Minister.
In the party election last year, Tangau then secretary general defeated Ebin for the deputy president’s post.
With Dompok’s eminent retirement, the focus is now on Tangau and whether there will be a leadership tussle in the party.
Dompok has already shown that he favours Tangau and delegated his powers to the Tuaran MP when he sent him to attend the Barisan Nasional supreme council meeting in Kuala Lumpur on Friday.
Tangau was accompanied by secretary general Donald Mojuntin to the meeting chaired by the national coalition chairman and Prime Minister Najib Razak.
“Transition plan appears to be on the cards … he has to leave at some point because what else is there for him to do,“ said a party insider. Dompok also visited Ranau, his old parliamentary constituency.
Upko will be holding meeting later this month were Dompok is expected to delegate powers again to Tangau to take charge the party. Dompok is said to be travelling to Taiwan to attend to some personal matters.
ewon08Speculation is also rife that eventually the party leadership under Tangau will push for another federal cabinet post or even replace Ebin should the Prime Minister reshuffled his cabinet. – BI