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Family members start committee to deliver demands

By Jin Haixing (China Daily) Updated: 2014-03-19 02:24

Some family members of passengers on board missing flight MH370 decided on Tuesday to set up a family member committee to better negotiate with Malaysia Airlines and the Malaysian government.

On Tuesday afternoon, a female representative of family members, one of the initiators of setting up the committee, made a speech calling for more relatives of the missing passengers to fill out a form to join the committee.

The woman, who refused to give her name, said that the current questions being raised by family members were not "tough" enough, and that the committee is intended to effectively deliver the demands of families to authorities.

So far, 50 families had signed up to join the committee, with each family as a member of the committee, she said.

They plan to elect about 10 representatives of the committee to talk with Malaysia Airlines and the Malaysian government.

Details of the representatives' election will be announced on Wednesday morning.

Malaysia Airlines said on Saturday afternoon that it will not hold any further news conferences now that a full-blown criminal investigation is underway. The probe was launched after the announcement that the aircraft was deliberately diverted from its route.

However, the air carrier said it will hold a briefing with the relatives and collect questions from relatives at 10 am every day at the Metropark Lido Hotel in Beijing, starting on Tuesday.

According to a statement from Malaysia Airlines, it has assigned each family a caregiver who will be available 24 hours a day. They have sent more than 100 staff members and caregivers to Beijing.

The airline also provides counseling sessions every day and informs those who did not attend the briefings by phone, it said.

Starting from Tuesday, Malaysia Airlines provided two free hotlines for relatives of missing passengers, with 1080-0130-1364 for residents from southern China and 1080-0713-1404 for residents from northern China.

Shi Xianwu, 23, whose elder brother Shi Xianwen was aboard the missing flight, said on Tuesday that his family has signed to join the family-member committee because he thought Malaysia Airlines did not deliver on its promises.

Shi arrived in Beijing on March 8 from Zhengzhou, Henan province. He said families were not satisfied with the performance of Malaysia Airlines for lack of communication.

"Our family did not see any caregiver so far, and we did not receive any phone calls from the airline," he said.

On Tuesday, some family members threatened to launch a hunger strike, with a post on a white board saying, "We demand the truth and please join the hunger strike of your free will."

However, families have different views over the hunger strike. Several people who are preparing the establishment of the family-member committee made speeches to relatives, asking them not to join the hunger strike.

"We should keep a good physical condition to get our family members back," a representative said.

As of Monday, 49 relatives had returned to their hometowns, according to the airline. But most of the family members are staying in Beijing awaiting news of the missing MH370.

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