May 25, 2017 01:02 PM PST
SINCE 2007

Malaysia gambles; people pay

My Take
By GREG ABREU

Malaysia Air Flight 17 crashed last Thursday, July 17. I’m writing this on Monday, July 21, four days before you read this. There probably won’t be new information that will change what I’m going to write about right now — Malaysia Air, and its operational boss, the Malaysian government, bears direct responsibility for this tragedy, AGAIN.



I wrote extensively about Malaysia’s culpability regarding the Malaysia Flight 370 disaster when that Boeing 777 disappeared in Southeast Asia. In that case, I’m not accusing Malaysia Air for causing the disaster. We know almost nothing about what actually happened in the air before Malaysia 370 crashed. But everything that happened after the crash, including the near-criminal, if not actually criminal, apparent stalling, disinformation, lack of cooperation, lack of transparency, indifference to investigators and survivors’ families and loved ones, disinterest in acting promptly to Western searcher requests — were primarily the fault of the Malaysian government and its airline, Malaysia Air. Further, Malaysia Air apparently chose not to include the latest upgrades in tracking and recording technology that other airlines chose to use. Malaysia Air certainly could afford those upgrades; they are a successful international carrier, and, unlike American carriers, they are directly funded by the Malaysian government. Money wasn’t the primary problem. Here’s the primary problem — the Malaysian government doesn’t care.

Here’s the problem — On July 17, Malaysian Flight 17 was probably shot down by a surface-to-air-missile (SAM) over northeastern Ukraine, an area controlled by Russian-aligned militia who were known to possess sophisticated SAMs capable of destroying high-altitude aircraft. Because of that, weeks prior to July 17, all American carriers, British carriers, French carriers, Australian carriers, and others, chose NOT to fly over that conflict area of Ukraine. They decided to fly south of that conflict area instead, because that was the prudent, safer route to take. Even though that southern route would burn up more fuel, cost more money, and take a little more time, the airlines from the U.S., France, U.K., Australia and others chose to do the responsible thing, and spend a little more in order to ensure passengers’ safety, not to mention, to preserve their 200 million dollar airplanes, and to avoid paying out the legal fees to the families of 300 passengers if shot down.

Malaysia and Malaysia Air knew this. But instead of doing the prudent thing, the ethical thing, the wise, caring, the smart-business thing, the Malaysia government and its airline apparently decided to screw that touchie-feelie stuff, and just fly their aircraft and thousands of passengers over some of the most dangerous skies on the planet.

Malaysia’s excuse? Malaysia and its defenders callously replied that ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organization) cleared that conflict airspace for commercial travel. True. ICAO said that Malaysia could take that risky route if they so chose, but ICAO did not say it was safe nor advised.

Any of us who live in major cities know that there are certain neighborhoods to avoid at night. There’s certain neighborhoods where you should not leave your car parked overnight. Sure, you can hang out in those neighborhoods, but the police advise you not to, and if you do, your risk of being robbed, carjacked, raped or killed are much higher. If you want to do that while risking only your own life, so be it. But is it moral for you to make that decision for your children and loved ones? No. It’s immoral to knowingly risk the lives of others, in order for you to spend less money, or suffer less inconvenience. But that’s what Malaysia did.

This is not a case of “blaming the victim.” If someone did shoot that plane down, which has been claimed and asserted but not proven, then clearly the villains are either the Russian-backed separatists, the Russians themselves, or Ukrainians of either the pro-Russian faction, or the pro-Ukrainian faction. But Malaysia knew it should not fly in that airspace. Malaysia knew that the world’s leading carriers refused to fly in that airspace. Malaysia reportedly had at least two crew members who refused to fly on Malaysia Flight 17 because they feared for their lives.

Malaysia chose to roll the dice when they negligently decided to fly passengers and crews over northern Ukraine. Malaysia gambled with human lives, and lost, creating a debt in human suffering that everyone else will have to pay for.

(Greg Abreu is a retired Federal law enforcement officer and instructor, as well as the FilAm Star’s movie critic. Send feedback to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. )