News / Asia

Malaysia Plane Disappearance Prompts Security Discussion

An airport security officer (L) checks a passenger's passport and boarding pass at Taipei Songshan Airport on March 10, 2014.
An airport security officer (L) checks a passenger's passport and boarding pass at Taipei Songshan Airport on March 10, 2014.
William Ide
It is still unclear why a Malaysia passenger jet vanished on its way to China early Saturday from Kuala Lumpur. But as authorities investigate apparent security lapses, analysts say they should be a catalyst for bolstering airline safety in the region. 
 
The little information that has emerged from the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 has frustrated increasingly desperate families and authorities who are still searching for the plane.

In Malaysia Monday, transport minister Hishammuddin Bin Tun Hussein urged people to refrain from repeating rumors until authorities are able to verify what happened.
 
"I would like to plea, make a plea, especially to the media and the public at large, not to spread and disseminate unverified and false news for two reasons, One because it affects our exercise of search and rescue because unverified news or false news will distract us from work at hand," said Hussein. "And secondly to be fair to the families who are hoping against hope."
 
Click to enlargeClick to enlarge
x
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge
While search efforts are intensifying, authorities continue to investigate the identities of two passengers on board the plane who were traveling with stolen passports. Malaysian officials also say five other individuals checked in, but did not board the flight.

According to authorities, all of the bags belonging to those five passengers were removed from the plane before it took off.

The suspicious passengers have naturally raised speculation about broader security problems for the region’s air travel industry.

Rohan Gunaratna, a Singapore-based terrorism expert says that while it is too early to say what ultimately caused the plane to go down, the fact that passengers got on board with stolen passports was a security breach.

Interpol database

In the wake of the 2001 terrorist attacks in the United States, Interpol set up a database to notify governments worldwide when a passport is lost or stolen. Gunaratna says it is a tool that is critical for governments to use.
 
"If they don't use the database, and if governments don't input data that means they are not doing their best service for the safety and security of those who are traveling," Gunaratna said.
 
Interpol has already confirmed two of the passports used were stolen and says it is looking into other suspect passports used to board the flight.

Terrorist threats in Asia have been considered low compared to those in Europe and the United States. But Gunaratna says the disappearance of the Malaysia to China flight could change airlines’ security posture in the region.

“I believe the downing of this airline should be a catalyst should be a lightning rod for other governments to take the threat of such incidents seriously," Gunaratna said.

It remains unclear what security lapses occurred that allowed the passengers to board the plane using passports that had been reported stolen.  

While some have been quick to speculate that the passport thefts could indicate terrorism might be at play, others have noted that it is also very likely the passengers were illegal migrants or individuals involved in criminal activity, and may have had nothing to do with the flight’s disappearance.

  • A relative of Norliakmar Hamid and Razahan Zamani, passengers on a missing Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777-200 plane, cries at their house in Kuala Lumpur.
  • A man takes pictures of a flight information board displaying the Scheduled Time of Arrival (STA) of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 (top, in red) at the Beijing Capital International Airport in Beijing, China, Mar. 8, 2014.
  • A relative of a passenger onboard Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 cries, surrounded by journalists, at the Beijing Capital International Airport in Beijing, China.
  • This screengrab from flightradar24.com shows the last reported position of Malaysian Airlines flight MH370.
  • In this photo released by the Armed Forces of the Philippines, Western Command PIO, Filipino government troopers look at a map as they continue the search for the missing plane of Malaysian Airlines at Antonio Bautista Air Base in Puerto Princesa City, Palawan province.
  • Family members of those onboard the missing Malaysia Airlines flight walk into the waiting area at Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Sepang.
  • Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, center, arrives at the reception center and holding area for family and friend of passengers aboard a missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, at Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Sepang, outside Kuala Lumpur.
  • A family member of passengers aboard a missing Malaysia Airlines plane is mobbed by journalists at Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Sepang, outside Kuala Lumpur.
  • A relative of a passenger onboard Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 cries as she talks on her mobile phone at the Beijing Capital International Airport, China.
  • A spokesperson, right, from the Malaysia Airlines speaks to the media during a news conference at a hotel in Beijing, China. Search teams across Southeast Asia scrambled to find a Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 with 239 people on board that disappeared from air traffic control screens over waters between Malaysia and Vietnam early morning.

You May Like

Multimedia Social Media Documenting, Not Driving, Hong Kong Protests

Unlike in Arab Spring uprisings, pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong aren't relying on Twitter and Facebook to organize, but social media still plays a role More

Analysis: Occupy Central Not Exactly Hong Kong’s Tiananmen

VOA's former Hong Kong, Beijing correspondent compares and contrasts 1989 Tiananmen Square protest with what is now happening in Hong Kong More

Bambari Hospital a Lone Place of Help in Violence-Plagued CAR

Only establishment still functioning in CAR's second city is main hospital More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plainsi
X
October 01, 2014 10:45 AM
It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plains

It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Draw New Supporters on National Holiday

On the 65th anniversary of the founding of Communist China, Hong Kong protesters are hoping to stage the largest pro-democracy demonstration since the 1989 Tiananmen protests. VOA's Brian Padden visited one of the protest sites mid-day, when the atmosphere was calm and where the supporters were enthusiastic about joining what they are calling the umbrella revolution.
Video

Video India's PM Continues First US Visit

India's prime minister is on his first visit to Washington, to strengthen political and economic ties between the world's oldest and the world biggest democracies. He came to the U.S. capital from New York, the first stop on his five-day visit to the country that denied him an entry visa in the past. From Washington, Zlatica Hoke reports Modi seemed most focused on attracting foreign investment and trade to increase job opportunities for his people.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid