Sunday, 23 March 2014

Ten Things I Learned From the MH370 Crisis

My grandmother called me a few days ago complaining that some of her relatives have disappeared after the plane incident. Guilty as charged. Well it's hard not to be absorbed by this heart rending drama.

Although there is absolutely nothing I or many other Malaysians can do to find the plane, everybody is trying to get the latest news, sharing their opinions and posting them on Facebook.

It's been a very frustrating search but I've learned quite a few things from the whole episode.

1.  How people see things depend on their political views. I've found that for the past few years, people's opinions and thinking cannot escape from being coloured by politics. Those who support the current government would invariably share the same articles defending them, and those who support the opposition would quickly find angles to show weaknesses of the current administration. Positions have hardened that many cannot consider things without being influenced by their political views.

2.  Black and white is what most people see. You are either good or bad.  People generally cannot understand that good people sometimes make mistakes or do bad things. Many don't judge other people on the balance of things, they judge based on how they see things. 

3.  Armchair analysts often overestimate their own ability and underestimate the difficulties faced by those having to make difficult decisions. They also think that it is unacceptable to make mistakes.  Based on my personal experience and observation, mistakes happen, sometimes big mistakes, when people face extreme pressure.

4.  The treatment of the acting Transport Minister and Malaysia's response is rather unfair. Unfortunately, the current government has been unfair and has not provided a level playing field for so long. They get no sympathy from many people.  I read in an article in the Malaysian Insider that this was 'just desserts' (by the way correct spelling I think is 'just deserts'), whatever that means.  If that's the case, what's the difference between the incumbents and those vying for change? I'd like to change to something better.

5.  Speaking publicly without thinking first of the implications and consequences is not limited to government politicians. See either statements or postings by Dato' Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, Dato' Seri Dr Wan Azizah, Dato' Mahfuz Omar, Dato' Seri Ir Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin, Khalid Samad and Chef Wan, to name a few. Many of them carry impressive titles and qualifications.

6.  Diego Garcia is an island which is part of the British Indian Ocean Territories (BIOT) in the Chagos archipelago, currently occupied by the United States. Apparently, they evicted the Chagossians and built a military base. So much for rights. No referendum required. Of course this happened a long time ago. The natives are still fighting to return. Check out Island of Shame by David Vine.

7.  The Southern Indian Ocean is very deep. As deep as 8,000 metres at some points. Contrast that with Mt Everest which stands at 8,848 metres high. Furthermore there is no land mass for thousands of miles. And for some reason Christmas Island belongs to Australia although it is located 1,560 km away and much nearer to Indonesia.

8.  When you fly, everything is out of your control. Statistics indicate that flying is safer than driving. This is only true to a certain extent. The chances of surviving if something goes wrong is much bigger when you are in a car. If you are a safe driver, then for you personally, the statistic above may not apply.

9. Lithium-ion batteries can catch fire and have actually caused two plane crashes. I've decided not to charge my phone overnight and not to put my phone next to me when I sleep, even though the risk is very low.

10.  The press can get away with a lot of things. Some people say that we should not believe what comes out in the social media. But we must also not believe everything we hear from the press. We know this to be true with the government controlled press in Malaysia, but as we have seen from this crisis, we have to be careful of what comes out in the international media, even some of the most respectable ones. Best example is Daily Mail's portrayal of Captain Zaharie, which was picked up by local and 'respectable' international media. Amazingly, now they are saying that it is the Malaysian Government who is portraying the pilot as a political zealot.

Let's continue to pray to God for the best outcome in this ongoing crisis and to remember to continue to pray in good times and not just seek Him only in times of trouble.

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