MALAYSIA Tanah Tumpah Darahku


Sunday, February 28, 2016


PAYOUTS to Flight MH370 next-of-kin could reach into the hundreds of millions with legal action targeting Malaysian authorities and at least one Boeing manufacturer in the pipeline.
Law firms in Australia, Malaysia and the US are seeking undisclosed damages on behalf of families of the 239 passengers and crew as the second anniversary of the plane’s disappearance approaches on March 8.
Under international agreements, families have two years to sue over air accidents and are automatically eligible for around $160,000 in compensation per passenger.
However, they can sue for more and Malaysia Airlines must prove it was not at fault — a tough task given that single wing part is the only debris from the missing plane that has ever been found.
Any damages are to be paid by the Airline’s insurer, Germany-based Allianz, and therefore would not impact the struggling airline’s finances.
Other lawsuits are targeting Malaysia’s civil aviation authorities and military for losing track of MH370. At least one other is directed at aircraft manufacturer Boeing.
Australian lawyer Joseph Wheeler, who is acting for four Malaysian next-of-kins, told AFP that total compensation could run into the “hundreds of millions” of dollars if successful.
“It’s a full Boeing 777, so the claims will be substantial,” he said.
Among major cases, 43 people, nearly all Chinese, sued in New York in early February, according to a copy of their case. MH370 carried 152 Chinese nationals.
A Miami-based firm is moving ahead with various lawsuits involving nearly 200 next of kin from several countries, said their lawyer Roy Altman.
These include suing on behalf of all the clients against the airline and Malaysian government in Kuala Lumpur, and against Boeing in Chicago over possible aircraft malfunction.
On Wednesday, Jennifer Chong, the Australian widow of MH370 passenger Chong Ling Tan filed similar claims, alleging the airline was negligent in failing to ensure passengers’ safety.
Lawyer Arunan Selvaraj, who told AAP he is representing next-of-kin of 15 passengers, expects to file lawsuits next week. He said some families were negotiating for settlements with the airline but the approaching deadline means most are under pressure to file a claim.
“Till today, the only thing they had found was the flaperon. There are no other clues. Many people are still in denial and there are so many theories as to what had happened. Families want justice and the truth,” Arunan said.
Lawsuit: Australian Jennifer Chong and her husband Chong Ling Tan who was on board MH370
Lawsuit: Australian Jennifer Chong and her husband Chong Ling Tan who was on board MH370Source:Supplied
The potential success of the various suits remains unclear given the unusual circumstances and jurisdiction.
Plaintiffs’ lawyers offer mixed reports of the process, with some reporting smooth negotiations for out-of-court settlements, while some others complained of low offers from the Malaysian side.
“We tried to negotiate, but they were intransigent and left us no option but to file,” Altman said.
Others complained that lawyers for the national carrier were threatening to have some cases struck out on grounds that a state-orchestrated rescue plan for the airline last year dissolved its previous holding company, Malaysia Air Systems (MAS).
A successor holding company claims no liability for MH370.
Voice 370, an international next-of-kin network, this week called the move a “despicable act” to frustrate claims.
In a statement written by lawyer Grace Nathan, daughter of passenger Anne Catherine Daisy, the group accused the Malaysian government of deliberately destroying MAS as a way of evading compensation payments.
“No notice was given to the families of the missing on MH370 about the planned asset
looting, gutting, delisting, and death of MAS,” Ms Nathan said in the statement.
”Selective payments or transfers made to creditors deemed by MAS and/or the Malaysian government to be ‘relevant’ and no passengers or families of passengers of MH370 were included among the creditors.
“There are currently cases which have been initiated and filed against MAS as the carrier by Next of Kin (NOK), now pending before the courts, awaiting access to justice, claiming wrongful death and/or other causes of action. The effect of the moratorium is that all these actions and cases will stop, and not proceed further until administration of MAS ends.
‘At the end, when the moratorium is lifted, MAS would most likely be an empty shell -with no assets or money. The NOKs will suffer.
Grace Nathan, daughter of MH370 passenger Anne Catherine Daisy, has accused the Malaysian government of ‘gutting’, ‘looting’ and orchestrating the ‘death’ of Malayasia Airlines Systems (MAS) to avoid paying compensation
“This appears to be MAS’s ploy to shield itself from liability of negligence or other claims,which may not be covered by their liability insurance. This is a blatant and despicable act of irresponsibility and cowardice by MAS, openly aided and abetted by the Malaysian Government.”
But the Malaysian administrator overseeing now-defunct MAS yesterday denied any responsibility-shirking, saying he had so far acceded to 96 requests for legal proceedings.
“No requests have been rejected,” Mohammad Faiz Azmi said in a statement.
He said 42 next-of-kin had collected “full compensation” so far, giving no details.
He pledged a “good faith” effort to determine fair and equitable compensation, and said insurance would cover all reasonable claims.
Families accuse the airline and authorities of allowing MH370’s disappearance through a slow, bungled response, withholding information, and treating families poorly.
The charges are strongly denied, but a number of miscues blotted Malaysia’s chaotic reaction, including its air force’s failure to act despite tracking the plane on radar for nearly an hour after it diverted.
Most relatives declined comment due to the pending legal action, but several expressed hope that court action could reveal more information.
“We can’t let the world forget 239 lives. We can’t let such a tragedy happen again,” said Jack Song, a Chinese national whose sister was on board.
The plane vanished en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing soon after takeoff.
Investigators believe it diverted and crashed in the southern Indian Ocean but a $160m search of a large section of the southern Indian Ocean has so far turned up no trace of the aircraft.
Last July, a barnacle-encrusted wing part known as a flaperon washed up on a beach in the French-owned La Reunion. It was taken to France for testing and confirmed to have originated from MH370 but no further results from the examination have been released.  - NEWS.COM.AU

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