CGTN Exclusive: 'MH370 truth hidden by people, not by sea'
Updated 17:46, 08-Mar-2019
By Abhishek G Bhaya
03:40

It was a sunny Saturday morning in the spring of 2014. Beijing resident Steve Wang woke up on the day to welcome his 57-year-old mother, who was returning home along with her friends after a 10-day tour to Nepal.

However, the brightness of the morning proved to be a bizarre deception for the heralding gloom that would not only alter the young man's life forever but reverberate globally for years to come.

"I still remember that morning. My father went to pick her up from the airport. I think she was expected to arrive at 8 o'clock, so my father went to the airport at about seven. But at nine, my father came back without my mom and told me there is some trouble," Wang, 25 years old then, told CGTN Digital on Thursday recalling the events five years ago.

"I didn't understand what he meant by trouble, so I asked him if the plane was delayed or canceled and he said the plane was 'missing,'" Wang said.

"It is hard for anyone to imagine something like this would ever happen to you. At the time, I could do nothing but just look at my cellphone and search on the Internet all the things about what had happened to the plane," he said expressing his helplessness.

This was the time when initial reports were coming in about the Malaysian Airlines flight MH370, which had reportedly vanished in thin air without a trace. The Boeing 777 flight disappeared on its way to Beijing from Kuala Lumpur on March 8, 2014, which remains one of the world's greatest aviation mysteries till date. 

Wang's mother, a retired chemistry teacher, was among the 239 people on board which included 153 other Chinese travelers.

"My mother had retired, and it was the best time for her to travel with friends. She loved to take photos, very beautiful photos," said Wang, stating that she was traveling in a group of 13 on that occasion. "There weren't many direct flights from Nepal to Beijing, so some of them – at least five – decided to take a transit flight from Kuala Lumpur," he added.

"The hardest thing is that nobody knows what happened, and nobody knows where she is. Where are the 239 lives?" Wang wondered, summing up the sentiments of the family members of those who perished on that fateful flight. 

Memories and nightmares

Visitors write messages on the board during a commemoration event to mark the fifth anniversary of the missing Malaysia Airlines MH370 flight in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, March 3, 2019. /VCG Photo

Visitors write messages on the board during a commemoration event to mark the fifth anniversary of the missing Malaysia Airlines MH370 flight in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, March 3, 2019. /VCG Photo

As the world marks five years of the MH370 disappearance on Friday, Wang said it had been terribly difficult for him and his father, who retired just last month, to cope with the absence of a loved one.

"There are so many memories, and every little thing can make you feel painful," he said. "There's a small massaging machine that my mother had bought to relieve pain on her shoulders. Sometimes she asked me to use the machine to help her relax," he added fondly reminiscing a personal memory.

"So when I recently found that machine while cleaning up my room, I noticed that one of its four legs is missing. I tried to find it everywhere but could not find it. Well, that drew my thoughts to how a person you are familiar with, you are living with for 20-30 years, and then one day she's just missing. You find everywhere, but you can't find her, that's the worst thing," he remarked.

"Family means all the members getting together. When you lose someone, it will never be a whole family. There is somebody missing, and you don't know where she is," he said.

Saying that it troubles him even to imagine what went on inside that plane, Wang admitted he gets frequent nightmares about it until today.

"Sometimes I'll have nightmares about the last minute happenings in that plane. What were the people on the plane thinking? What are they facing? The strain, the shock, or maybe the hopelessness or whatever happened to all our loved ones?"

"We are facing the same situation and when we all have the same kind of pain I think only we can understand each other," Wang said referring to other families who lost someone in the disaster.

Drawing attention on the plight of some of the elderly Chinese who lost their entire families, he said: “Their children were their only hope to life when they lost them. How could they keep on living?” 

Struggle for truth continues

Some of the Chinese families of MH370 passengers gather at a building near the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Beijing, on the fifth anniversary of the disappearance of the aircraft, March 8, 2019. /Photo via Jiang Hui

Some of the Chinese families of MH370 passengers gather at a building near the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Beijing, on the fifth anniversary of the disappearance of the aircraft, March 8, 2019. /Photo via Jiang Hui

Bonded by similar pain and loss, the MH370 families have stuck together in their common fight to seek the truth about the biggest aviation mystery of our times. /Photo via Jiang Hui

Bonded by similar pain and loss, the MH370 families have stuck together in their common fight to seek the truth about the biggest aviation mystery of our times. /Photo via Jiang Hui

The MH370 families want the search operation for the missing plane to resume as they continue to fight a legal battle against Malaysian Airlines, Boeing and the Malaysian government. /Photo via Jiang Hui

The MH370 families want the search operation for the missing plane to resume as they continue to fight a legal battle against Malaysian Airlines, Boeing and the Malaysian government. /Photo via Jiang Hui

Infographic: A timeline of the search for MH370

Bonded by similar pain and loss while struggling to resume their lives, the families have stuck together in their common fight to seek the truth over the last five years. "All of us want to know the truth. What happened to the plane? Where is it? Where are the people and how can we get them back?" Wang said.

"You know the truth could only be hidden by people; it could not be hidden by the sea," he added poignantly.

The young IT sales professional did not mince his words while putting the responsibility for the disaster and subsequent lack of information on the authorities.

"We have been asking for details of the evidence, for everything from the Malaysian government for dozens of times, countless times, from the first day till today. But they have given out nothing useful so far," he complained.

Satellite data analysis has shown the plane likely crashed somewhere in the southern Indian Ocean, off the coast of Western Australia. However, two major searches failed to come up with any significant findings, with the last effort ending in May 2018.

Jacquita Gonzales, (R) wife of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 steward Patrick Gomes, and Grace Subathirai Nathan (L), daughter of MH370 passenger Anne Daisy, show pieces of debris (believed to be from flight MH370) before handing over to Malaysia Transport Minister Anthony Loke in Putrajaya, Malaysia, November 30, 2018. /VCG Photo

Jacquita Gonzales, (R) wife of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 steward Patrick Gomes, and Grace Subathirai Nathan (L), daughter of MH370 passenger Anne Daisy, show pieces of debris (believed to be from flight MH370) before handing over to Malaysia Transport Minister Anthony Loke in Putrajaya, Malaysia, November 30, 2018. /VCG Photo

More than 30 pieces of suspected aircraft debris have been collected along the Indian Ocean coastline, but only three wing fragments were confirmed to be from MH370.

Malaysia last week said it is open to restarting the hunt for the plane if firms come forward with credible leads and concrete proposals. Welcoming Malaysia's statement, Wang said that he along with other families of the victims will push for resuming the search.

"It is unfortunate that the search missions were called off last year. We want to push it so, maybe, we'll find some third parties to continue the search," he said, revealing the collective action being considered by the families.

"On the other hand, we will keep on the lawsuit against not only Malaysian Airlines but also against Boeing and even the Malaysian government and military because they are responsible for losing the plane," Wang elaborated. 

'Seeking justice by law or God'

Chinese relatives of passengers on the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 take part in a prayer service at the Metro Park Hotel in Beijing, April 8, 2014. /VCG Photo

Chinese relatives of passengers on the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 take part in a prayer service at the Metro Park Hotel in Beijing, April 8, 2014. /VCG Photo

Despite the frustration over the inaccessibility of facts even after five years of the mysterious case, Wang remains hopeful that the truth will eventually come out some day, bringing in a closure and justice for all the affected families.

"I just want people never forget about MH370 because it is not a small accident. At a time when even if you lose your cellphone, you could find it, how can a plane containing 239 lives go missing? It is important for all of us to find out the truth about the missing plane and our most loved ones and make them come back home. That will be the final closure," he said.

"I just hope that there's another WikiLeaks which could tell us the truth. I also hope that when the truth comes out, on that day I am still alive. And on that day I will tell my children who killed your grandmother. And I just want them to be punished by the law, or by the God," he concluded, expressing his anger on the situation as he looked for divine justice in the absence of a real answer.

(The identities of Steve Wang's parents haven't been revealed on Wang's request)

Interviewer: Abhishek G Bhaya

Video Editor: Ziyi Zeng

Filmed by: Qi Jianqiang, Ziyi Zeng & Ding Zhiyang

Coordinator: Yu Jing