Photo from Aviation Safety Net

30 years ago (Dec 04, 1977) my parents were in the above plane (MAS flight MH 653) when it was hijacked before subsequently crashing into the swamps at Tanjong Kupang, Johore. All on board were killed, thus making me an orphan at the age of 5. To date, it is still the worst aviation accident in Malaysia.

The official Malaysian media did not give any plausible answers to what had happened on the plane. Some claimed that there’s a media cover-up involved. It was generally reported that the hijacker spoke with a thick Japanese accent, making the Japanese Red Army the primary suspect.

I thought 30 years later I could probably rely on google to dig up something more. I want the truth!

But. Besides the normal WIKI entry and a report on Aviation Safety Net, there’s nothing on the net. The Pilots forum somehow implied that there were more to whatever that’s reported. Here, the veteran pilots remember their colleagues, recall hearing the horrifying black box from the cockpit, and one even suggested that it wasn’t a Japanese – “the story in the link about Japanese accent and the Japanese hijacker is utter baloney.”

I am disappointed.

And yet I do not know why I need to know the truth. For it won’t change a single thing.

No intact body could be found. A mass grave was built for whatever parts that could be found. Tun Hussein Onn, the then Malaysian prime minister made a bold decision to have Jewish Rabbi, Muslim Imams, Buddhist and Taoist priests, Catholic priests and Christian pastors administer the necessary funeral rites on the same location. I guess the tolerance for other religions has taken a downturn today – can a joint burial be still possible in these kris-wielding days?

So there lies whatever that’s remaining of my parents, together with my cousin, and 97 more strangers.

People do ask me what is it like to grow up as an orphan? I am certain it has forced me to mature faster than normal kids, has made me independent, stubborn, strong-willed and probably injected a certain degree of coldness into my being. I have to admit, sometimes, I do wonder if I would be any different if I were to grow up like a normal child under the watchful eyes of loving parents?

That, I will never know.