International journalists stationed in Kuala Lumpur international airport report that Malaysian police are deliberately keeping them from speaking to the families of the passengers of missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. Reports follow a day in which police physically dragged relatives away from the cameras.
According to the New York Times, the relatives of those on the plane were “forcibly dragged away from reporters” after attempting to get the attention of the international media to accuse the Malaysian government of wrongdoing. Many of the relatives, mostly Chinese, have condemned the government of Malaysia for what they believe to be a cover-up or, at the very least, inadequate search measures that have extended the length of the search for the missing plane.
The few members of the Malaysian media that have been able to approach relatives have received messages of universal condemnation of the government. “We do not have any other way of dealing with this other than to be angry and to cry. Your way of dealing with it is either lying or playing a shameful role,” one relative shouted in earshot of a reporter for Free Malaysia Today. Another outlet, the Malaysia Chronicle, reports that the relatives were corralled into a room after the dramatic scene Wednesday in which they were whisked away by authorities.
International reporters have faced the same sort of obstacles in reporting the coverage. Denmark TV2’s Benjamin Kurstein told MalaysiaKini that he personally saw the relatives being led out of the conference room in which the press conference was held, being kept away from the media. “No matter whether this was to protect them, or it was to stop them from talking to the press, it is going to reflect very badly on Malaysia,” he told the newspaper.
The BBC’s Jonah Fisher corroborated the reports of authorities keeping reporters away from relatives by attempting to approach the relatives on camera and being prevented from doing so by a wall of Malaysian policemen:
Both the international media and countries participating in the search have been critical of the apparent stonewalling by authorities on the plane search. China, in particular – which may have lost more than 150 citizens boarded on the plane – has criticized the Malaysian search for being chaotic and withholding to international aid.
While the Malaysian government continues under scrutiny for its investigation, Australia announced late last night that it had a new, hopeful lead on the search. The government of Australia is currently sending investigative ships and planes to an area of the southwestern Indian Ocean in which satellites spotted two objects believes to potentially be debris from Flight 370.