On the Beat | By Wong Chun Wai

Flying in the face of common sense

Indonesian Air Force flight crew listen during a briefing at the Medan city military airbase on March 13, 2014 after conducting an aerial search over Malacca Strait.

Indonesian Air Force flight crew listen during a briefing at the Medan city military airbase on March 13, 2014 after conducting an aerial search over Malacca Strait.

We seem to swallow hook, line and sinker everything the social media dish out, even when reports are clearly false.

THE 10 most ridiculous rumours circulating about the MH370 incident, especially on the Internet (it is not just Facebook but also many blogs, chats, etc), reveal the state of utter confusion among Malaysian netizens.

We complain a lot and say we feel embarrassed when the Malaysian frontliners give conflicting statements. But at the same time, we seem to swallow hook, line and sinker everything the social media dish out, even when reports are clearly false.

Confusion No.1: The missing MH370 landed in Nanning, China. They are all safe. The pilot, one Captain Sufian Suan, has called up and confirmed that all the passengers are safe and sound. No one seems to ask why no one has called up the authorities in Nanning to verify. Nanning, after all, is a major Chinese city and it is not every day that a plane flies in unannounced. But everyone on Facebook claimed that was the truth. And their friends, and friends of friends, and their many FB friends have all confirmed.

Ah Boy, listen to Ma, it’s the truth, okay? I already double confirmed. It’s all over Facebook, didn’t you read? Thank God, they are safe. I don’t understand why the Government still never announce, always so slow.

Confusion No.2: The prize has got to go to the three bomohs who came in their suits and ties. They even had a purported magic carpet. They reminded most Malaysians of the P. Ramlee movie Laksamana Do Re Mi, a 1972 Malaysian comedy featuring P. Ramlee, A.R. Tompel and Ibrahim Din reprising their roles as Do, Re and Mi respectively.

May I have the envelope, please? The top award has to go to this Bomoh Trio for bringing international disrepute, scorn and embarrassment to all Malaysians. Seriously, they need to have their heads examined, and to seek treatment.

One was holding two coconuts, maybe to symbolise some kind of radar or tracking device, and one was using his walking stick as a paddle. The middle one held a basket. This has to be a classic basket case, you may say.

The carpet, we guess, was to represent a boat. Thanks, guys, you have done a superb job in bringing Malaysia to the world and giving medical tourism a whole new meaning. If a magic carpet can fly, so can all Malaysians.

Strange as it may sound, even Jabatan Agama Islam Selangor (JAIS) has been praised by its usual critics after the department issued a warning to the Bomoh Trio that they might be arrested!

But the Bomoh Trio does have company. A video has appeared on FB showing a Taoist priest from Klang in a trance and, while drinking liquor, is making his prediction on the plane! It proves the point that there are enough idiots of all races and religions in Malaysia.

Confusion No.3: The plane has vanished into an isolated place in Russia. Come on, this has to come from someone who has regularly failed his geography exam since primary school. The fact that many Malaysians actually believe and shared it on FB proved my theory that Malaysians are really bad at Geography. During my student days, the subject was called Ilmu Alam and now, with all the strange theories about MH370, many are really lost in some alam.

Hello, the plane vanished after two hours. If it cannot even reach Beijing, how can it reach Russia? If it has entered Russia illegally, do we actually think that President Vladimir Putin will do nothing, even if he has his hands full on Ukraine and Crimea?

Confusion No.4: Actually, the Malaysian authorities know where the plane is – it has clearly been hijacked but they cannot tell us anything because negotiations are in progress for the right ransom.

This one has to come from a very confused FB account holder. Obviously, he has many more confused FB friends. Most of these really imaginative, stoned or really blurred people must have just watched Liam Neeson’s recent movie about a hijacked plane.

I am glad that there is no representative from a media specialising in such theories or he would have posed this question at the daily media briefing.

Confusion No.5: It’s proven – Malaysians are pretty bad with Mathematics. No surprise that we rank pretty low on the international scale. Look, we cannot even get it right – two fake passports or four? DCA says five passengers didn’t show up, the IGP says only one, and MAS then said actually four did not show up.

Immigration says the Iranians used Austrian and Italian passports to enter Malaysia but Interpol says the two Iranians entered Malaysia on Iranian passports before switching to the Austrian and Italian passports to leave KLIA. By now, everyone is thoroughly confused.

Confusion No.6: The media is also one confused lot amid their eagerness to file the fastest news report. A reference to footballer Mario Balotelli – as an illustration to show that an African man with an Italian name may not be white – was wrongly interpreted by reporters, who misquoted the DCA official as saying that the man using a fake passport was black.

As this statement contradicted the Home Minister who had assumed the fake passport holders to be Asian, the barrage of criticism went viral on FB. One newspaper got it wrong too and put the news on page one. Its online link was shared on FB. Until today, it remains a fact even though the poor DCA chap was misquoted.

Confusion No.7: The most distasteful claim has to come from the Australian blonde. It is truly shameful. She has accused the First Officer of MH370, in another flight back in 2011, of letting her sit in the cockpit during take-off and landing. But it’s essentially a one-sided story and the officer may never have a chance to rebut or defend himself. We should show respect to his family. This is utterly disgusting. Instead of showing sympathy, many have added more fuel to the claim by insisting the accusations were “confirmed”. How? By just a mere picture of the pilots with the blondes?

Confusion No.8: Families of the passengers coming in from China on a MAS flight ended up in India instead of Kuala Lumpur. The cri­tics, including some journalists who do not think, did not even bother to verify the story. They will believe anything that gives them a chance to run down and wallop the authorities.

But hey, how can that possibly happen? Chinese passengers entering a plane loaded with Indians? How do they find their seats and how could they be on board?

One Singaporean youth news portal actual­ly got hoodwinked into believing the news and uploaded it on their portal as a fact!

But many Malaysians are too lazy and confused to check, preferring to believe most things they read on the Internet.

Confusion No.9: The one who has to politicise everything. Even the MH370 incident has to tie up with politics and the leadership. One constant armchair critic, who declares himself an independent but appears in many functions organised by a certain political party, said the ruling government has to go, as in replaced, in the next general election.

Another politician is upset that foreign intrusion is allowed to take place in Malaysia because foreign ships and aircraft are allowed to take part in the search and rescue operation. But there are enough confused people who believe him. Really, they need help.

Confusion No.10: If there is any top prize for the most ridiculous theory, it has to be for those who think aliens are at work. It’s either some kind of abduction by foreign beings or some disappearance into some black hole, like what one sees in a Twilight Zone movie. Seriously, planes do vanish, perhaps not in modern aviation times, but it has happened before.

In one case, a plane flying between Buenos Aires and Santiago just disappeared without a trace – and the debris was found 60 years later, on a snow-covered mountain top. Just Google, as we say.

But decent Malaysians only have one thing on their minds – to pray for the well-being of the passengers and their families. We must pray for them but we can do with the disappearance of those who post comments, false news and doctored pictures on FB without thinking. Not to forget some of our silly politicians too.