MH17: M’sia appeals for truce in Ukraine to gather more remains

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia is appealing for a truce between the warring factions in Ukraine so that it can gather evidence and any remains left at the site where Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 went down, killing all 298 people on board.

This was stated today by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak, who said Malaysia was striving hard to have its security and probe teams gain access to the site for at least a week or two weeks.

The government would not stop looking for the rest of the remains of the 43 Malaysian victims of the tragedy, he said. So far, the remains of 31 Malaysian victims have been brought home.

“We will look for every evidence and the rest of the remains at the site. I will not be satisfied unless all the remains have been handed over to the respective families,” he said.

Najib said this in his speech after handing over the National Sovereignty Medal to 129 people, among them seven ministers, who had participated in the ‘Ops Daulat’ operation against armed intruders in Sabah earlier this year.

Flight MH17 crashed in eastern Ukraine on July 17 as it was flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur with 283 passengers and 15 crew on board. The Boeing 777-200 aircraft is believed to have been shot down over the troubled country.

Besides Malaysians, nationals from the Netherlands, Australia, Indonesia, the United Kingdom, Germany, Belgium, the Philippines, Canada and New Zealand were among the 298 people on board.

There have been reports that Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk was not agreeable to the truce proposed by Russian President Vladimir Putin. Russia is reportedly backing the rebels.

Najib said Malaysia was caught in a geopolitical conflict that had nothing to do with it.

“In facing this major test, I took the unconventional step because I realised that our primary mission is to bring home the remains of the victims.

It is not the intention of Malaysia to get involved in the conflict or take sides, but without engaging with the warring factions it would have been impossible to remove the black boxes and remains from the site,” he said.

Najib said the nation’s security and efforts to handle the MH17 tragedy, the missing MH370 aircraft and the armed intrusion into Lahad Datu, Sabah, should be stepped up because these issues transcended borders and continents.

These were unexpected events and Malaysia was fortunate because the foreign policy it had adopted and its relations with other countries helped, he said.

“Twenty-six large countries, such as Australia and China, contributed a great deal to the search for MH370 and no country asked Malaysia payment to meet the cost of their search operations,” he said.

Flight MH370 dropped off radar on March 8 as it flew from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 227 passengers and 12 crew on board.

The Boeing 777 aircraft has yet to be found, even after an exhaustive search in the southern Indian Ocean where it is believed to have gone down after veering off course.