Son of Flight MH370 passenger conflicted over honouring the dead

By Thomson Reuters Mar 8, 2024 | 5:20 AM

By Mandy Leong

KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) – Every spring, China observes the Qingming tomb-sweeping festival, where families visit and clean the graves of their ancestors, making ritual offerings and paying respects.

But for Chinese national Jiang Hui, 50, Qingming presents a dilemma: how to honour his mother, Jiang Cui Yun, who vanished 10 years ago aboard missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370.

“It feels wrong to go and pay respects to my mother because she hasn’t been declared dead. But if I don’t pay respects, I miss her terribly and feel unable to do anything else in her memory,” Jiang told Reuters in the Malaysian capital.

“There doesn’t seem to be any alternative method available. Therefore, on that day, it’s like being in an unbearable situation where neither doing nor not doing feels right.”

Jiang’s mother, who was 71 when she went missing, was among 239 passengers and crew, including 153 Chinese citizens, aboard Flight MH370, a Boeing 777 which disappeared on March 8, 2014, en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing in one of the world’s greatest aviation mysteries.

Two underwater searches conducted between 2015 and 2018 in the southern Indian Ocean, where the plane was believed to have crashed, have proved fruitless.

Jiang said he has struggled to explain his mother’s whereabouts to his young son and often breaks down emotionally.

He and loved ones of other passengers have consistently pushed for authorities in Australia, China and Malaysia to reopen investigations.

On Friday, he and three other Chinese nationals visited the office of Malaysian Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim to submit a letter pleading for the government to mount a fresh search.

Anwar said this week Malaysia was willing to reopen a probe if there was compelling new evidence.

“Ten years have passed, but the goal of the family members, their original intention, remains unchanged: to find their loved ones, to find the plane. It’s as simple as that,” Jiang said.

“Bring them back to us, whether they are dead or alive.”

(Writing by Rozanna Latiff; Editing by Nick Macfie)