Malaysian officials have reiterated their willingness to resume the search for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 but say there needs to be a fresh proposal and a credible lead about its potential position.
Malaysian Transport Minister Anthony Loke told reporters at a remembrance event on Sunday the government was prepared to engage firms under a “no-cure, no-fee” agreement if there were credible leads or specific proposals.
He said the chief executive of Ocean Infinity, which conducted the second search for MH370, had indicated there might be new technology available.
“If they can convince us that the new technology can be more efficient for the search, then we are more than willing to restart it, ” The Star online newspaper quoted Loke as saying.
“And if there is a ‘no find, no fee’ proposal, then we are prepared to look at it.”
The comments came after Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad also told a family member of one the victims that Malaysia intended to continue the search,
Mahathir told Danica Weeks, whose husband Paul was one of 239 people on the plane when it vanished in 2014, that new electronic detection methods meant it may be possible to find the plane.
“Not knowing what happened is extremely distressing because you don’t know whether he’s somewhere or not,’’ Mahathir said on the Nine Network’s 60 Minutes. “I appreciate that very much.’’
Asked what he thought had happened to MH370, Mahathir said: “One of the things I heard from the very beginning was the plane was hijacked.
“But a plane of this size going down into the sea anywhere, or on land, must leave signs. But here there is absolutely no evidence. It’s strange, suddenly the plane just vanished.”
However, Mahathir appeared unconvinced about a widely held theory that Captain Zaharie Ahmed Shah was responsible for the disappearance.
“I cannot think that a person who has been flying for so long, a very senior pilot, would want to do that,” he said. “I don’t know how he can make it disappear. I don’t think anybody can answer this question.”
Loke told 60 Minutes the Malaysians were committed to resuming the search if there was credible evidence.
“I would like to see that we can find the plane and to give closure to the families,’’ he said.
Asked whether national pride was blinding the government to the fact Zaharie was responsible, Loke said: “Well, I mean, until and unless we find the plane and we’ve found the black box, nobody can put any blame to anybody.”
Loke said he did not believe the Malaysians had discounted any evidence, but it was not fair to blame anybody at this point in time.
He said the government’s main focus was on finding the plane and he hoped more credible evidence would surface in the coming months so the search could be resumed.
Two searches of the ocean floor in the Southern Indian Ocean covering some 250,000 square kilometres have failed to find the wreckage.
The first was funded by Malaysia, China and Australia and the second was conducted by Ocean Infinity on a no find, no fee basis.
Two fragments of the plane were displayed publicly on Sunday.