Urgent Memo to Prime Minister Tony Abbott: commission the best Australian intelligence on the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 on March 8 this year, then distance your government from any unquestioning hand-wringing about this disaster or unwavering acceptance of the official narrative about the loss of that Boeing 777-200ER and the 239 people on board from the government of Malaysia.

Many things point to something rotten going on in relation to MH370. The most striking comes from commentary made on the flight’s disappearance by Tim Clark, the president and CEO of Emirates, in June, July and October (variously reported on Crikey blog Plane Talking)

To cut to the chase, Clark is accusing the Malaysian authorities of lying.

He has repeatedly drawn attention to the suppression of the nature of some items carried as cargo under the floor of the jet, which abruptly “went dark” to air traffic control radar screens when it was over the Gulf of Thailand, on track to Beijing.

Clark heads the world’s largest user of 777s, as well as A380s. He says there are indications that unauthorised access was made to an unprotected electronics and electrical systems bay reached through the floor of the forward cabin immediately behind and below the cockpit.

Boeing is refusing to comment on prior warnings from pilots that it needed to secure this hatch against such intrusions.

But on May 1, even before Clark began dissenting from the Malaysian government’s often-changed narrative, its then-acting Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein, revealed that the Malaysian cabinet knew, on the morning that the flight “vanished”, that it had deviated westwards across the Malaysian peninsula from its last transponder-identified position heading towards Vietnam, taking a course that was headed toward the Andaman Sea.

The government of Malaysia misled the growing international search effort, causing authorities to intensify the search into the South China Sea, and as far north as Kazakhstan, despite having knowledge of the abrupt change of course of MH370 as tracked on its own military radar.

It even resisted American intelligence disclosures that the jet had eventually flown south and crashed into the southern Indian Ocean west of Perth, which appear to have been revealed unilaterally by the White House out of a frustration it shared with China, and soon after, with India, over the quality and integrity of the Malaysian response to the disappearance of MH370.

To give context to Clark’s stance, there are clear signs that the US and other powers, including China and Indonesia, know that terrorism was not involved in the diversion of the flight, but that a well-planned attempt to steal unidentified cargo went wrong, or a that a similarly intricately planned act of suicide and mass murder went right.

The focus on the south Indian Ocean search for the wreckage of the jet, which ran out of fuel seven hours and 38 or 39 minutes after takeoff, and at about the time the Malaysian cabinet knew the truth about its diversion, has kept attention off the criminal investigation, which the Malaysian authorities have subsequently refused to discuss in any detail.

While confidentiality in such investigations is very important, the question that has been increasingly heard as the months pass is: who or what is the Malaysian government protecting?

That disquiet parallels the astonishing suppression by an Australian court of allegations, made in Australian litigation, of corrupt payments being made to a south-east Asian government.

The Abbott government needs to understand that matters already reported abroad in the supposedly less free Asian media in relation to corrupt payments will, like the criminal probe into the disappearance of MH370, eventually come out — and probably fairly soon.

It would be wise to not be caught falling for the full and misleading Malaysian government narrative about MH370 as currently publicly known.

While the wreckage of the missing jet may be located sooner rather than later, it seems unlikely to reveal more than the intelligence dossiers the PM ought to read, or commission, as the case may be.

Being taken for a fool by Malaysia through an uncritical acceptance of its MH370 narrative could prove very bad political optics.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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