How low can Nurfam go on the MH 370 issue?

How low can you go to kick a decent man when he’s down?

That is the question that must be asked of The National Union of Flight Attendants (Nufam). The union has asked for the resignation of Malaysia Airlines CER Ahmad Jauhari on the flimsy reasoning that theMH370 incident will have a large impact on the airline.

 

Photo from From Malaysiakini.com

 

They have not put forth any convincing argument that Jauhari had been incompetent or unfit to lead Malaysia Airlines throughout the drawn out search for MH 370. Yet they have the temerity to ask for his resignation.

Kesatuan mahu CEO MAS letak jawatan

Kesatuan Kebangsaan Anak Kapal Kabin Penerbangan Malaysia (Nufam) menuntut ketua pegawai eksekutif Malaysia Airlines Datuk Ahmad Jauhari Yahaya meletak jawatan atas kes kehilangan MH370 yang masih berlarutan.

Nufam, yang sering bertelingkah dengan Ahmad Jauhari berhubung isu pekerja, yakin bahawa peletakan jawatan CEO tersebut akan memulihkan kembali keyakinan rakyat kepada syarikat penerbangan tersebut.

“(Nufam) percaya ini adalah tindakan sepatunya pada masa ini kerana kejadian ini turut membawa impak besar kepada industri penerbangan di negara ini.

Read more here

Unspun has argued before that Malaysia Airlines under Jauhari’s leadership did the right thing when faced with the crisis-like situation caused by the disappearance of MH 370 (see here) . Perhaps not ideally fast Jauhari nonetheless took the responsibility of speaking at the press conference to announce that MH370 had gone missing, he expressed empathy, shared information and promised to do everything he could. Anyone who is cued to human expression could see that although strained he was ernest, sincere and open in how he handled matters.

MAS also turned on their dark site, and switched their social media assets to crisis mode, an indication that the staff had prepared and trained for such eventualities.

Events after the press conference were a different matter. The search and rescue efforts came under the responsibility of the Government, specifically the Department of Civil Aviation and was taken out of MAS’s hands. That was when things started to go seriously wrong.

Transport Minister Hishamuddin was defensive and unempathetic, as well as appearing reluctant to share information or account for the government’s actions; the DCA chief was uncomfortable wight he media and couldn’t even tell a black footballer from a couple of Iranian where looks were concerned; the Police chief was downright arrogant and the government kept contradicting itself.

Anyone with an iota of critical thinking should be able to discern that MAS did not do a bad job and it could not do anything about the Government ball sing thing up.

So why is Nufam picking on Jauhari instead of Hishamuddin who, as the head of the search efforts must surely the the one to be held accountable if anyone is? Is it because Jauhari has no political clout like Hiham? Is it because he is not related to the PM? Or comes from the Umno Bhramin class? Or that he had been firm against their attempts at pay hikes?

Now is not the time for any organisation to exploit cynical for their own agendas. Not when the pain for the families of the MH370 passengers is still so acute and many of them are still grieving and mourning. There will be a time for reckoning, and when that time comes Nufam, if it is ernest in seeking justice or the well-being of the aviation industry, should have enough integrity and courage to place blame where it is deserving, instead of picking on someone who is vulnerable.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How can the Malaysian Government find closure in the MH370 tragedy?

With Malaysian Prime Minister Najib’s announcement that MH 370 had perished in the Indian Ocean, and with no contending evidence to suggest otherwise, situation is moving toward what Crisis Managers would consider the Closure stage.

It will take some time, as families come to terms with their loss and mourn their loved ones. The task is all the more difficult since there is no wreckage of MH370 to be found. Even the debris spotted by satellite has not been recovered and positively identified.

The Malaysian Government, helmed by Transport Minister, Hishamuddin has had a rough ride through the three weeks between the disappearance of MH370 and Najib’s announcement of the end of the plane’s journey. Their reputation is mostly in tatters. There is almost universal criticism of the way they handled the incident.

If you were advising the Malaysian Government, what would you advise they do to find closure on the issue?

Unspun has some thoughts but would like to hear other opinions weighing in.

 

 

 

Does the Malaysian Government evoke contempt for its handling of the MH370 incident?

The answer seems to be an unqualified YES!

Consider these developments that betray the depth of incompetence, internal conflict and egos at play behind the scenes of the Malaysian Government agencies involved in the MH370 search and rescue effort.

  • There were already indications that as early as Monday, Malaysian officials already knew that MH370 had turned back up to the Malacca Straits. They ordered the search to be extended to the Straits. Yet this did not become official until yesterday, when a Malaysian military source confirmed they had tracked the plane to Pulau Perak on the northern end of the straits.
  • Why did the Military take until yesterday to put out the information about the last know whereabouts of MH 307. The fact that they leaked it through a “source” rather than a statement suggests that they were sidelined and prevented from participating fully in the SAR efforts.
  • Because the Malaysian government has not confirmed it, we do not know yet conclusively if the military’s claim is a fact, but it seems probable otherwise the huge search efforts off Vietnam would have come up with something. Now, if it is true then the search for MH370 should focus not only on the straits but also in the Andaman Sea beyond Sumatra.
  • This is clearly turning out to be something too big of the Malaysian Government to handle all by itself. It is a signatory of a treaty where it can call in other countries to help in the search effort and the analysing of information. It hasn’t. national pride is one possible factor behind the reluctance.
  • DCA director-general Azharuddin Abdul Razak, a man clearly uneasy with having the face the media, is clearly anthropologically challenged. He described the appearance of the two men traveling on fake passports on MH 370 as looking like footballer Mario Balotelli, who looks like this:

  • When the photos of the two offending passengers were released they were apparently Iranians who looked like this:

  • See the resemblance? Unspun can’t either, which raises profound questions about the ability of the DCA to differentiate facts from rumours, half-truths and downright misinformation that are prevalent in any crisis-like situation.
  • How many people who checked in did not board MH370? The DCA says 5, the Police chief says 1. Who’s correct? This episode also raises concerns of whether they are even talking to each other, let alone working together to help find MH370 and provide timely updates to the families, friends and the world about the SAR efforts.

These are only some of the horror stories of incompetence and callousness emanating out of Kuala Lumpur. As things stand there is no clear signal of who is in charge of the incident. Is it the DCA director-general Azharuddin Abdul Razak? If so what is he doing allowing the Police chief to contradict him and not coordinating with the military.

With such a level of incompetence and lack of leadership being displayed the families and friends of the victims are rightly getting angry and frustrated with the government. The international media has begun reflecting this. This Morning’s Anderson360, for instance, has corespondent Clancy reporting on the non-cooperation, defensiveness of the Malaysian officials and the paucity and inconsistency of information being provided to family, friends and media.

This reflects very poorly on the Malaysian Government and Malaysia.

When you think about it the only person who can step in now and salvage things is the Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak. If he is serious about helping the families and friends of MH370 passengers and crew, and of locating the plane in the shortest time possible, he needs to step in, replace the DCA chief or appoint someone competent to be the Incident Commander.

He then needs to call in all agencies and read the Riot Act to them that for the duration of the crisis whatever the Incident Commander says goes. There is no time for consensus nor nursing bruised egos during a crisis. It is command-and-control all the way.

Who should be the Incident Commander? Unspun has no clue, but it must be someone senior enough and who has the full backing of Najib and the Malaysian government to be able to make all the right decisions and have them implemented. Someone who is able to command the respect of the heads of competing agencies and someone who can make decisions yet have the flexibility of an open mind toward approaching problems.

If Najib can make this happen, The Malaysian Government can still salvage its reputation and that of the nation’s in they crisis, in the process bring much needed clarity and proper treatment to the distraught families and friends of the passengers and crew of MH370.

If he can’t or won’t do that then he might as well prepare the nation to be held in contempt and odium as a bunch of Keystone Cops flailing out hopelessly with the world as their stage.

Don’t let fake passports story waylay the search and rescue efforts of MH370

 

The most dreaded media question by politicians in the West whenever there is a crisis is:” Will you resign your position to take responsibility for this incident/travesty/failure?”

But that’s the West. Here in the East journalists, even Western ones operating here under work permits controlled by governments, are better mannered and avoid such confrontationist approaches. This is all very good, but sometimes it makes it difficult to ascertain where the buck stops.

Take, for instance, the apparent failure of Malaysian immigration officials to intercept two apparently Asian-looking  men who were travelling under the fake identities of stolen Austrian and Italian passports.

The Malaysian Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi was right to fume to national newswire Bernama: “I am still puzzled how come (immigration officers) cannot think, an Italian and Austrian (passengers) but with Asian facial features.” It is, of course, not impossible that there are Italians and Austrians with Asian features, but they must be a minority and should have tripped off some alarm bells.

The Minister has rightfully called for a probe into the immigration officials at the KL International Airport branch.

Then the narrative takes a strange turn. The Department of Civil Aviation was asked to comment on the Minister’s remarks. The DCA’s director-general Azharuddin Abdul Rahman declined commenting on the case with the line: “I will not reveal too much on the two passengers still under investigation, as it might jeopardise the investigation.”

That is a strange response because the Immigration Department in Malaysia is under the Home Ministry. Azharuddin could have easily have said: “I cannot comment on the Immigration Department, you’d have to ask the Home Minister/director-general of Immigration about that,” and got away with it. This is because the DCA is under the Transport Ministry, not the Home Ministry. And the Immigration Department is under the Home Ministry.

It is a basic rule of media training, in normal times but especially in crisis-like situations, that you never speak in someone else’s behalf.

But Azharuddin did. So, to a layperson looking in, the lines are now blurred. If there is a failure in immigration procedures and security, whose responsibility should it be? Would it be the responsibility of the Home Minister or the Transport Minister?

Should they take the responsibility because this failure, if it turns out to be one, happened on their watch, or should officials lower down who are more responsible for the failure take the rap?

This question will be floating around in the media for the next few days and, if not handled properly, might escalate as the MH370 crisis, as Unspun wrote in a previous posting, would now be entering Stage 3 – the finger pointing stage.

This matter needs to be handled skilfully so that it would not get to the point that it saps energy and resources away from the main tasks at hand: the  rescue or recovery of MH370 and its passengers and crew; taking care of the families and loved ones and communicating to the public to assure them that everything possible is being done to find MH 370 and the people in it.

DCA keeps mum over minister’s revelation on dubious duo on MH370

BY JOSEPH SIPALANMarch 10, 2014

A relative of a passenger on the missing Malaysian Airlines (MAS) flight MH370 watches DCA director-general Datuk Azharuddin Abdul Rahman during a televised news conference at the Everly Hotel in Putrajaya March 10, 2014. — Picture by Saw Siow Feng

A relative of a passenger on the missing Malaysian Airlines (MAS) flight MH370 watches DCA director-general Datuk Azharuddin Abdul Rahman during a televised news conference at the Everly Hotel in Putrajaya March 10, 2014. — Picture by Saw Siow Feng

SEPANG, March 10 — Malaysian authorities today refused to verify a minister’s claims that the two passengers who boarded missing MAS flight MH370 using stolen passports had “Asian” features, saying that they did not want to jeopardise ongoing investigations.Department of Civil Aviation (DCA) director-general Datuk Azharuddin Abdul Rahman said that it would be premature for him to comment on the claim, made last night by Home Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.

“I will not reveal too much on the two passengers still under investigation, as it might jeopardise the investigation,” he said, refusing to entertain repeated questions on the matter.

Ahmad Zahid made the revelation last night when announcing an internal probe on the Immigration Department over the incident.

“I am still puzzled how come (immigration officers) cannot think, an Italian and Austrian (passengers) but with Asian facial features,” he was quoted by national newswire Bernama.

Ahmad Zahid noted that the ongoing investigation is being carried out by a special team led by the department’s director-general Datuk Aloyah Mamat, and will focus on their Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) branch.

To a question on whether immigration officers on duty on the morning the flight went missing had cross-checked the passport details with Interpol’s database, Azharuddin again declined comment, saying that he could not say much on the matter for the time being.

“That is the duty of the investigating team to determine what happened that morning,” he said.

Azharuddin also sidestepped repeated questions on the level of security at KLIA following the discovery of the two yet-to-be-identified passengers on the missing flight, insisting that they adhere to international standards.

“The security deployed now at KLIA complies with international security standards. The DCA has done surveillance and audit of KLIA, and we have been audited by the United States and Australian security offices,” he said.

Speculation of possible foul play in the disappearance of MH370 is mounting after ticketing information showed the duo who boarded using the stolen passports had purchased one-way tickets.

Yesterday, investigations into the plane’s disappearance were expanded to include the possibility that it suffered a mid-air explosion, news agency Reuters reported citing sources.

Flight MH370 has now been missing for more than two days since it lost contact after departing Kuala Lumpur International Airport for Beijing, China on March 8.

There were 239 people on board, including 12 crew members.

Does Malaysia Airlines instil confidence in its handling of MH370 incident?

When tragedy strikes, like it has with the disappearance of flight MH370, the company at the centre of it all comes under intense scrutiny. It must demonstrate that it knows what it is doing and has a difficult situation under control – or lose the confidence of the public and all other stakeholders.

If it loses control of the situation it will plunge itself into a deeper crisis as all the frustration and anger of missing loved ones come to bear full force on it.

Fortunately for the families and loved ones of MH370, however, Malaysia Airlines has so far has demonstrated its professionalism in handling this crisis-like situation. Their burden remains heavy, but they can at least take comfort that CEO Ahmad Jauhari Yahya and his team know what they are doing.

How can you tell if they are doing a good job?  There are several tell tale signs.

The first is that Ahmad and Malaysia Airlines’ willingness to share information. Perhaps a bit slow off the block Ahmad nevertheless addressed the issue in a Press Conference yesterday where he expressed sympathy for the friends and families of the victims, told the public what they did and did not know yet, and what they are doing. This is the Triple R of crisis communications – Regret, Reason and Remedy.

The other indication of what sort of a company Malaysia Airlines is when it comes to crisis management can be seen very evidently  from how it manages its digital assets because in this age of the super-connected public, they are the first points of contact for most people around the world who are interested in the developments of the search and rescue and recovery of MH370 and its passengers and crew. The digital assets are primarily its website, as well as its social media channels such as Twitter and Facebook.

Companies trained in crisis management usually have a Dark Site prepared for incidents such as MH370. A Dark Site is a “dormant” website that is stripped of all promotion materials and designed to provide information and updates about the incident. It is activated only during crisis-like situations.

If you go to the Malaysian Airlines website you will see that they have stripped their website of all promotional materials, with a prominent “pointer” to the Dark Site.

MAS Website

Click on that and you go directly to the Dark Site where you get the latest information that the company has on the incident.

MAS Darksite

But Malaysian Airlines does not stop there. Go to their Facebook page and you will see the same messages being posted to amplify their message on the website. The Facebook page is also stripped of all colour and the airlines logo is grey together with a grey background, to prevent any inadvertent visuals that may not be appropriate for the mood.

MAS FB

This same treatment is also applied to its Twitter account which is also used to amplify the message on its website.

MAS Twitter

Such coordination and activation within hours of the incident suggests a company that takes crisis management seriously and has drilled its employees to be able to carry out such tasks under the pressure of public scrutiny. It should give confidence to the public that Ahmad Jauhari Yahya and his Core Crisis Management Team at Malaysia Airlines are competent, professional and know what they are doing.

In difficult times like this, such professionalism should be a source of comfort for aggrieved families and friends of the passengers of MH370.

 

How the media will report the MH370 incident

When a plane goes missing, it is a terrible experience for the families and loved ones of the victims. The uncertainty, the waiting and the frustration of not knowing can be heart rendering. The best we all can do is send our thoughts and prayers for the victims and their loved ones and, in Unspun‘s case, perhaps help people to understand how the media is likely to treat crisis-like situations like this and better prepare them for what they are about to read or see in the media.

Any crisis-like situation like MH370 goes through four stages. Stage 1 is the “Breaking News” stage. Almost all of the information is focussed on “what happened”. In this case the facts are that MH370 disappeared with no telltale signs such as a radio call or signal. This is strange, but speculation would not help. Facts are the only currency in crisis-like situations.Unspun thinks Malaysian Airlines’s CEO Ahmad Jauhari Yahya has handled the matter relatively well, with the factual delivery of his core statement at a press conference earlier today.

We have been seeing the characteristics of this stage in the media coverage but it has already morphed into Stage 2, which is focused on the “drama” of the victims or their loved ones’ responses, as well as the response of the perpetrator/responsible organization. This is a crucial make-or-break stage for Malaysian Airlines as the spotlight will turn on how they are responding to the situation, and the possible causes of the incident.

Malaysia Airlines will need to constantly update the media and the families of the victims as they will, rightly or not, be judged by how responsive and open they are with sharing information. This is a difficult task if the search and rescue teams do not find the wreckage of the plane soon but it is something that Malaysia Airlines would have to handle with great delicacy.

If Ahmad and his team handle things well they will be able to avoid Stage Three of a crisis: The Finger Pointing Stage. At this stage the media tries to focus on the “Why” of the incident and experts will be trotted out to speculate on who should have done what. Malaysian Airlines may not have the answers as airline incidents like crashes take a very long time to investigate, gather evidence, perform the forensics and come to any conclusions. But this would not stop the media, pundits and the general public from trying to place blame on someone.

After some time the incident will go into Stage 4, which is the Resolution or Fallout stage. The publicity is tuned down a notch as the focus shifts to either funeral services, government inquiries or special hearings. And even if  Malaysian Airlines conducts a successful closure strategy to the incident, the facts and myths of the matter live on in Google and social media, ready to pounce back with a vengeance if the airlines makes any mistakes.

It is a difficult situation and one can only hope that Malaysian Airlines has trained itself well in Crisis Management so that it will be able to provide crucial information and support for the victims’ families and loved ones throughout the incident and maintain enough control of the situation to continue to do so.