MH370 search under review, may be scrapped: Malaysian PM
The cancellation of the MH370 search is part of Malaysia’s plan to cut public spending under Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad
Kuala Lumpur: The hunt for missing flight Malaysian Airlines MH370 is being reviewed and may be scrapped, Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said Wednesday, as the country’s new government seeks cuts in public spending.
The MH370 jet disappeared in March 2014 with 239 mostly Chinese people onboard while en route to Beijing from Kuala Lumpur. No sign of the plane was found in a 120,000 sq. km sea search zone. The Australia-led hunt, the largest in aviation history, was suspended in January last year.
The former Malaysian government struck a “no find, no fee” deal with exploration firm Ocean Infinity to resume the search in an area north of the original zone, that scientists now believe is the likeliest crash site.
The MH370 search restarted in January and Ocean Infinity stands to make as much as $70 million if the jet is found. However Malaysia’s new government, which came to power after a surprise election victory on 9 May, said they may not continue the deal.
“We are reviewing the contract,” Mohamad told reporters after chairing his first cabinet meeting since he came to power. “We may terminate it if it’s not useful.”
The new administration has said the country’s finances are in bad shape partly due to allegations that billions of dollars were looted from a state fund by ousted leader Najib Razak and his cronies. Najib is now being probed over his role in the scandal. He denies any wrongdoing.
On Wednesday, Mahathir announced that members of the cabinet would have their base salaries cut by 10% to demonstrate the government was concerned about the nation’s finances. Mahathir’s coalition, the Pact of Hope, unseated the once-powerful Barisan Nasional, which had ruled the country uninterrupted for 61 years.
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