KUALA LUMPUR March 28 -- The Malaysian government has ordered the country's Attorney General to look into the legal implications of flight MH370, including possible claims of compensation, an official said here on Friday.
Malaysia's powerful Cabinet of Ministers during a meeting on Friday morning decided to alert the Attorney General's department to consider all the legal repercussions that could be faced by the government or Malaysian airlines.
Malaysian airlines is separately consulting lawyers to obtain legal advice on how to proceed with the potential financial compensation that could be demanded from the 239 families of those on board the Boeing 777 flight.
"We are obviously talking to various legal parties and also the families on this. So far what we have been requested, especially for the family members, is to identify the evidence affirmatively. That means they are still looking for evidence of the aircraft, so that is why search operations have been focused on," Malaysia Airlines Chief Executive Officer Ahmad Jauhari Yahya said in response to questions at a media briefing.
Malaysian acting Transport Minister Hihammuddin Hussein added that during a cabinet meeting he was present when the decision had been made to alert the Attorney General to oversee all legal responsibilities.
"From the part of the Malaysian government, we have decided that the Attorney General's department will look at all the legal implications in addition to other steps on the way forward," he said.
Yahya also insisted that the pilot and co-pilot were scheduled to fly together as part of a roster while psychological evaluations are done before co-pilots and pilots are recruited as well as once a year or more frequently depending on their age.
The Malaysian government have also steadfastly defended themselves from criticism over the investigations into MH370, which have now dragged on for three weeks.
"I don't think we have done anything differently from what we have done. No matter what has been thrown and labeled at us, history will judge us as a country that has been very responsible. We have corroborated any evidence we have received. We have made sure that no stones are unturned, notwithstanding lots of speculations in the early stages of the Malacca Straits or in the social media, we have not distracted from our main focus, which is to identify the plane," Hussein said in response to questions.
"If you can remember from the early part of our search, no one could imagine us searching for the plane in the Indian Ocean, where we are today. So where we are today is based on a very transparent and consistent effort on our part and maybe today with emotions running high and a lot of interest on this issue people are getting clouded, but I genuinely believe that we have conducted ourselves fairly and responsibly and history will judge us for that."
Hussein also emphasized that police would not reveal findings simply to alleviate strained emotions and would give priority to the successful conclusion of investigations as a whole.
"I fully understand as I also have family. But I just want to say to the Chinese families that it's not just them that lost or are looking for family members. Malaysians have also lost family members along with 14 other nations and it is important to them not to listen to all speculative information that will make emotions even higher. At the same time from the Malaysian government's side we will together with the Chinese authorities continue to engage them."
Hussein's remarks come as Chinese bookings on Malaysian Airlines and resorts dropped significantly with calls increasing for a boycott on Malaysian products.