We should be praying, NOT preying

Malay Mail, March 12, 2014

IF ever there were a case of public overarching and haemorrhaging moral clout this is it. Cranky fools with a startled appetite for aggravation and acting like a chicken that’s been bitten by an ant get under our skin and spew silly throwaway lines about the missing MH370.

It’s not funny especially when they fill up their big bins of speculation and leave them out on public domain to tip into. It’s a wonder they haven’t worn themselves out.

Over the past few days, social media platforms have been home to never-ending theories of the missing aircraft that it has become a sickening blur — the societal equivalent of the ever-present hot spell and the ever-present smog that has rendered blue skies rare events.

Malaysia is today carpeted with ‘subject matter experts’ who put their collective heads in the sand by resorting to keyboard fury and dim analyses about the missing jetliner.

The sudden emergence of “aviation crash investigators, investigative journalists and specialists in crisis management, search and rescue and oil spills” who operate from the comfort of their living rooms with a smartphone isn’t helping a frantic situation. Their anger and abhorrence are loathsome.

Public relations authority Sivaraman Sabapathy shares the views of the sensible: “MH370 has brought out the ugly Malaysian. It’s so easy to question, to criticise, to give stupid opinions, to spread rumours, to be a subject matter expert with a smartphone in hand.

“Do they know what Malaysia Airlines and the authorities are going through? I know of people who have not slept for 48 hours.

“People should stop making brainless speculations. There are no winners here. The focus is to find the missing bird and all else is mere rhetoric.

“Is there no end to this stupidity?

“Are people sick to fake Twitter accounts to start rumours?

“Why can’t we just pray for the 239 on Flight MH370 and their families and ignore the parasites?”

It is not in the national interest that this situation continues. So, to the conveyer belt of feeble gimmicks — the remorseless and personification of dark thoughtlessness, I’m calling the police.

Stay calm?

Advice: Kindly refrain from telling the family members of the missing passengers of MH370 to “stay calm”.

You’d never ask people to “stay calm” if you knew what it meant to a distressed family expecting the worst.

Women empowerment specialist Faridah Hameed illustrates: “Wouldn’t it be better to say something like, we know you are distressed and the whole of Malaysia is praying with you. We are doing everything we can to find out what happened and to find your loved ones. We promise to send an officer every hour to brief you.”

“The family members know it’s the worst case scenario already and asking them to stay calm is nonsensical. I don’t know how I would react if this happened to me.”

Keep it there, minister

He terrifies competitors with his buccaneering style, but at the MH370 media conferences, he seems intent on healing troubled minds.

Defence Minister and acting Transport Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein has with assured clarity and professionalism been informative with his take on the search for the missing MH370.

Malaysia is, no doubt, grating at the media scrutiny from overseas, but Hishammudin, as veteran journalist Nuraina Samad says in her Facebook posting, has “looked calm but firm, relaxed but professional, commanding but informative.

It is one of the best I have seen from a Malaysian minister so far.”

“I have never thought of him as the brightest bulb in the lightbox but I always give credit where credit is due.

After having seen how he handled two press conferences, I have to say he makes me proud.

“He speaks clearly, he speaks well, his information is clear, he answers questions from the international media well, and his concern and sincerity comes through.”

Advice: Even if you choose to avoid the traditional news, don’t soak deeply into the social “news” from the virtual world to which we are so connected.

Don’t allow the flood of tweets and Facebook posts about the mystery of MH370 to further magnify fear and don’t succumb to rubbishy rumours.

Let’s pray.