It is no longer news that Malaysia Airlines is responsible for the disappearance / death of 537 persons in 2014 alone and has raised the average annual global fatalities in the aviation industry to a new level.
When I heard about the crash on Thursday, July 19, my first reaction was disbelief; my disbelief later became shock, anguish, and despair. This incident has made me shed tears, not for the dead, but for the living. It is clear that ‘how’ and ‘when’ the living will give up the ghost is becoming increasingly bizarre.
Now that I’ve come to terms with what has happened, some thoughts came to mind on the lessons we can all learn from the incident. I discussed four lessons in this article.
1. Lightning can strike the same place twice
It’s amazing how many people are guided by the old saying that ‘lightning never strikes the same place twice’. The Malaysia Airlines experience proves that this old saying is a myth. Lightning can indeed strike the same place again and again!
When Dana Airlines resumed operations after their plane crashed killing over 150 people in Lagos, Nigeria in June 2012, I asked a few people why they started using the airline even though investigations on what led to the crash were inconclusive. One common response I got was: “Having suffered so much, the airline will be more careful!” I could not imagine any thinking shallower than that. It lends credence to the belief by some people that assumption is the lowest form of knowledge.
I was amazed when a CNN reporter in Schilpol Airport said yesterday (Friday, July 18) that another Malaysia Airlines flight was scheduled to take off from Schipol Airport in two hours from the time she was reporting! I thought: “Would there be any passengers on that flight?” Then I remembered the response I got from the flyers of Dana Airlines.
2. Investment principles are the principles of life
Amongst entrepreneurs, investors (those that stake their resources on other people’s projects) have my greatest respect. This is for the reason that they must be very savvy to succeed in ventures that are not directly under their control. Because they don’t have direct control, they critically analyse a myriad of factors before deciding which venture to put their resources into.
Astute investors consider all aspects (vision; mission; operational, finance, and marketing strategy; human capital strategy, legal procedures, among others) of a firm’s business before deciding. It would suffice for less finance oriented persons to focus on earnings and management capability; earnings (profitability) are actually a reflection of management capability. Of greater importance is the need to attach heavier weights to negative information they get about any business / organization they are evaluating for investment purposes.
Malaysia Airlines management’s handling of the disappearance of MH370 flight should ordinarily put everyone on caution. Even though we’re all not aware of the fact that the airline is losing about US$1.56 million daily (a situation caused by its abandonment by wise air travelers after the MH370 disappearance), available public information about the airlines management should be enough to scare discerning travelers.
About the Malaysian government’s conflicting report on the time of disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, an American commentator said something along the line that long years of authoritarian rule made the Malaysian government ill-prepared to handle a global catastrophe of that magnitude. In addition, the commentator also inferred that the Malaysian government was yet to get used to the openness and transparency required in the modern world! That Malaysia Airlines is about 70 per cent owned by the Malaysian government is instructive.
We are all investors and it is high time we saw ourselves as such. While conventional investors put their financial resources and quasi-monies in business ventures, others (you and I) invest our lives – in marriages; relationships; and producers of goods and services we consume. When you buy a food product that you have no idea about the reputation of the producer, you take a risk on your life. When you board airplanes that you care less about the reputation of the management of the airlines, it’s a risk on your life.
3. We must become adept at ‘cooking trouble’
At our Estate Residents Association meeting sometime this year, a notorious resident verbally abused another resident to the chagrin of all present at the meeting. In the absolute quietness that followed his expletives, one of the residents (the former Estate Chairman) said: “Mr. X, you have not only abused Mr. Y, you have also abused all of us seated here. Your comment clearly shows that you have no regard for us.” He didn’t stop there. He concluded by saying: “One thing you must bear in mind is that if you cook food (I call it trouble) for us, we would all eat it and it wouldn’t be enough for us. But if we all cook for you, I bet that you cannot finish it!” Mr. X didn’t utter a word thereafter. He now makes conscious efforts to comport himself at our meetings. I learnt he has started greeting one of the residents that he had not spoken to in a long while!
The reason Vlamidir Putin is deviant and arrogant is because America has been the only cook. When the rest of the world cooks for Mr. Putin, I bet that he would have no stomach to house our food trouble.
We must all do our best in dealing with evil in whatever capacity we can. The 298 passengers on the Malaysia Airlines MH 17 had no faintest idea that the crisis in a far-flung place like Eastern Ukraine could affect them let alone end their lives. The fact is, ‘evil is evil’ and we must endeavour to overcome it because we never know all the people that will be affected by evil.
4. Blessed are the peacemakers
As a prelude to the epic ‘Sermon on the Mount’, Jesus said: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God” (Matthew 5:9).
America has been at the forefront checking the excesses of Vlamidir Putin in the last couple of years. It is a fact that the human carnage in Syria is a product of the covert support Russia, under the leadership of Vlamidir Putin, is giving the despot running the affairs in Syria. After the annexation of Crimea by Mr. Putin, America pushed the rest of the world to impose economic sanctions on Russia.
In response to the trouble in Eastern Ukraine which has the ‘invisible hand’ (now visible) of the same man, America recently called for stiffer sanctions on Russia. It’s undisputable that the economic sanctions so far have not been biting enough on Russia because some world superpowers have been half-hearted with the implementation. Had they been forthright in implementing the sanctions, the insurgence in Eastern Ukraine would have ended and the unfortunate incident of the Malaysia Airlines MH17 would have been averted.
That the only person said to be an American on the Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 had a dual nationality makes me think: “Is America being rewarded for being the peacemaker in the Ukraine / Eastern Ukraine / Russia saga?” I guess only time will tell.
I pray that God in His infinite mercies will comfort those who lost their loved ones in the unfortunate incident of the Malaysia Airlines MH17 and the one before that. May God give our national leaders the courage to overcome personal interests and confront evil, and the wisdom to restore peace in the conflict areas of the world, Amen!!!