I am sure all of us are hoping for the best for Flight MH370. I have a friend on that flight who attended the Malay College with me long ago. I cannot say I was very close to him, neither can I say having him on that plane makes me more invested in the whole mystery, but I do hope he is alright nevertheless.

The relatives of the victims deserve our sympathy whatever the fate of the airplane. But as I scan the news on the television, in the papers and online, I wonder if some of us are overdoing it.

Politicians and their spouses are visiting the victims’ relatives. I am skeptical of the purpose of their visits.

Some are directly participating in the rescue effort and they are ministers directly involved in the effort to find the missing plane. Having the Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein meeting and consoling the relatives is appropriate. He is communicating the government’s effort to the families, however confusing the messages can be now. The Prime Minister visiting is okay too because, after all, he is head of the government.

As for the others, I think it is all about showing faces and making sure everyone else knows that you care, regardless of sincerity. It is about reaping some political brownie points more than anything else.

I do not fully blame the politicians for doing it. Societal expectations can also be at play here. Whether you care or not, you just have to go, as if it is a public duty to show up. If you do not go, you risk being labeled as uncaring and callous.

I have seen on the internet of such accusation being thrown at politicians who are busy with other businesses. That is an unfair accusation, as if life stops with MH370, as if nothing else matters in comparison to MH370. I thought Praba Ganesan made the point well earlier this week about how we do not live in a mutually exclusive world where we need to choose only one matter to focus on (although, I have to add, the timing of Pakatan Rakyat’s convention was truly unfortunate).[1]

BN politicians have been visiting the relatives of the victims. This creates pressure for Pakatan Rakyat politicians to make the same visits. BN members and supporters have accused their political rivals of trying to take advantage of the tragedy, citing the attempt for the visit. I think if those BN supporters are honest, especially given what happened on Friday and later on Monday, BN is really no different.

Mohd Hafiz Noor Shams. Some rights reserved Mohd Hafiz Noor Shams. Some rights reserved Mohd Hafiz Noor Shams. Some rights reserved

[1] — Hundreds of families worldwide are hopeful even if not expectant, as Flight MH370 continues to stay missing. My thoughts are with the families, and I extend my support to the thousands who make up the multinational search and rescue teams. Today, the column looks at the other major developments in the country and intends to comment on them. They matter, even if they are wholly separate from the tragedy which leaves serious question marks over the fate of 239 passengers and crew members. [If you have a moment, the other things. Praba Ganesan The Malay Mail Online. March 13 2014]

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