If the Malaysia Airlines jet that disappeared this month is found on solid ground, the family members and friends of its passengers and crew still will have suffered the trauma during the interim period of not knowing. Even that outcome becomes increasingly unlikely as time passes.
Had the aircraft been hijacked, the criminals likely would have made themselves known, to seek ransom or to claim political credit. In any case, the Malaysian government has shown itself grossly inadequate to handle the event.
It withheld critical information from international parties seeking to learn the plane’s fate, wasting precious time. The government even changed its account of the sequence of events.
The minute the flight left Kuala Lumpur for Beijing, its destination, the affair ceased to be a Malaysian matter and became international. Now, 26 nations, including the United States, are searching for some trace of the plane. There is reason to believe evidence will turn up. If the plane went into the water, remnants will eventually float to the surface.
Most people sympathize with those who are desperately seeking to know what happened to their loved ones. International authorities need to lean on Malaysia and other countries that do not exercise appropriate vigilance over aircraft that enter their territory.
This is not an area in which carelessness or indifference is acceptable. The safety of each individual, regardless of country of origin, depends on accountable standards set by every nation.