Wednesday, March 19, 2014

MH370, ASEAN, and why Scoot is better than your girlfriend...

I had not commented on the missing MH370 Malaysian Airlines passenger plane, whose mysterious disapperance is turning out to be the biggest aviation story in recent history. And the idea of some sort of foul play centred on the flight deck seems appealing.

But if terrorism was involved, what were the political motives. Communications silence has never been part of aerial terrorists' game plan, ie, taking over the flight deck meant taking over the comms system as well. Most terrorists do want to live -- at least long enough to finish their mission.

Criminal motives? That would also mean that the pilots were being kept alive long enough to get the plane to some destination. Above all, why were there no attempts by at least some passengers to turn on their cellphones and make desperate calls or send text messages?

An attempt to sketch out a probable scenario -- by a pilot -- has been getting eyeball attention, including mine:

A Startlingly Simple Theory About the Missing Malaysia Airlines Jet

This event has also thrown the spotlight on the shroud of secrecy over the capabilities of military radar, radio and satellite coverage -- ie, signals intelligence (SIGINT) -- of the various actors:

Whatever the denouement, it will be one heck of a story. Sadly, the relatives of the ill-fated passengers are going through a terrible time with still no closure.


I wish I had made the effort to sit down long enough to write my assessment of ASEAN's future in the face of changing great power dynamics. Now I won't need to. :-( Professor Hugh White ((from the same centre in the same university, ANU, where I received my Master's and PhD in strategic studies) has written a commentary for ST (March 19). I echo his views:


Indonesia has always been central to the stability of maritime Southeast Asia. That will always be a constant. This extract below from an analysis by ANU PhD candidate Awidya Santikajaya in TODAY (March 19) headlined "Will Jakarta's foreign policy change?" caught my eye:

That's interesting. All along there has been talk of the emergence of BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) -- not all of whom are necessarily "good friends" of the US. Now there's MIKTA (Mexico, Indonesia, (South) Korea, Turkey and Australia -- all of whom are (most of the time) "good friends" of the US.

The upshot, as Prof Hugh White has also intimated, might be an Indonesia that is less focused on ASEAN. That might have its own implications.


Finally, these three ads caught my eye too:

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