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Friday March 28, 2014
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Malaysian representatives are seen after all the relatives of passengers aboard Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 left a briefing early at Lido Hotel in Beijing March 28, 2014. — Reuters picMalaysian representatives are seen after all the relatives of passengers aboard Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 left a briefing early at Lido Hotel in Beijing March 28, 2014. — Reuters picBEIJING, March 28 — Frustrated family members of the Chinese passengers aboard missing flight MH370 walked out of a briefing by Malaysian officials today, leaving the panel to stare at ranks of empty chairs while a single relatives’ representative berated them.

With the search on its 20th day, hundreds of family members of the 153 Chinese passengers stood up about an hour into a briefing at Beijing’s Lido Hotel and calmly filed out of the room, in a surreal scene that underscored the simmering tensions between the relatives and Malaysian authorities.

The man who led them in protest — a representative of the families who gave only his surname, Jiang — took the microphone as soon as officials opened the floor for questions following their presentation on the latest details of the search effort.

Jiang, who was wearing a white MH370 T-shirt underneath a tan blazer, turned to the assembled relatives and asked them whether they were satisfied with what they have heard from officials so far.

“No!” the family members responded in unison.

He led them in leaving the hall, as cameras rolled and the panel of Malaysian officials wordlessly looked on. Several dozen uniformed police officers stood on the sides of the room, watching the scene unfold.

In the Gallery


  • People place their candles after a candlelight vigil for the passengers of the missing Malaysia Airlines MH370 in central Kuala Lumpur March 27, 2014. ― Reuters pic

  • People hold candles as they comfort each other during a candlelight vigil for the passengers of the missing Malaysia Airlines MH370 in central Kuala Lumpur March 27, 2014. ― Reuters pic

  • A woman places a candle after a candlelight vigil for the passengers of the missing Malaysia Airlines MH370 in central Kuala Lumpur March 27, 2014. ― Reuters pic

  • A woman weeps during a candlelight vigil for the passengers of the missing Malaysia Airlines MH370 in central Kuala Lumpur March 27, 2014. ― Reuters pic

  • Lieutenant Commander Mike Trumbull, a Naval Flight Officer assigned to Patrol Squadron (VP) 16, monitors his workstation on a P-8A Poseidon during a mission to assist in search and rescue operations for Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, March 27, 2014. ― Reuters pic

  • A representative of the relatives of passengers' aboard MAS flight MH370 talks to Malaysian officials after other relatives walked out a briefing given by Malaysian representatives at Lido Hotel in Beijing March 28, 2014. — Reuters pic

  • Malaysian representatives are seen after all the relatives of passengers aboard Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 left a briefing early at Lido Hotel in Beijing March 28, 2014. — Reuters pic

  • Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein (centre) speaks at the daily MH370 press conference at the PWTC in Kuala Lumpur, on March 28, 2014. — Picture by Saw Siow Feng

  • Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein (right) and MAS chief executive Ahmad Jauhari Yahya at the daily MH370 press conference at the PWTC in Kuala Lumpur, on March 28, 2014. — Picture by Saw Siow Feng

  • The local and foreign media at the daily MH370 press conference at the PWTC in Kuala Lumpur, on March 28, 2014. — Picture by Saw Siow Feng

  • Messages dedicated to the passengers aboard MAS flight MH370 and their family members are displayed at a room where the family members attend briefings given by Malaysian representatives at Lido Hotel in Beijing March 28, 2014. — Reuters pic

  • An Australian Air Force C-17 Globemaster aircraft prepares to land at the RAAF Base Pearce to deliver an Australian Navy SeaHawk helicopter, March 28, 2014. — Reuters pic

  • Foreign reporters and television crews wait for an Australian Air Force C-17 Globemaster aircraft to arrive at the RAAF Base Pearce near Perth, March 28, 2014. — Reuters pic

  • Crew on an Australian Air Force C-17 Globemaster unload an Australian Navy Seahawk helicopter will be used in the search for MAS flight MH370 at the RAAF Base Pearce, March 28, 2014. — Reuters pic

  • A memorial cross and wreath in memory of the victims of missing MAS flight MH370 is seen hung on a fence outside RAAF Base Pearce from where search flights have been departing, on March 28, 2014. — Reuters pic

Once the family members had left, Jiang returned and took a seat in the front row, directly in front of the officials.

“You have seen from the scene today that the next of kin are united,” he declared. “Chinese people are united. The facts which you have been concealing — or trying to conceal — will ultimately see the light of day. There will certainly be people who receive their due punishment as a result of this.”

‘We are trying our best’

Ackbal Abdul Samad, commander of the Malaysian Air Force operations, responded by defending the search operation and maintaining that the authorities were working their hardest.

“How can you move forward from here?” he asked. “We are trying our best. We are trying our best.”

With a twinge of exasperation in his voice, he added: “We have got nothing to hide.”

The back-and-forth soon ended, Jiang left the hall and the panel of Malaysian officials sat quietly, staring out at the rows of empty seats in the ballroom.

The bizarre scene was in dramatic contrast to irate relatives scuffling with security personnel outside the Malaysian embassy in Beijing on Tuesday, after authorities allowed a rare protest march in the capital.

After several minutes, a reporter broke the silence to ask the officials what they were waiting for.

Jiang then returned and announced that the family members were to hold a private meeting in the hall — no journalists or officials allowed.

The panel remained silent for another moment. Relatives began flooding back into the room. Then Samad spoke up.

“Seems we’ll take a leave,” he said. “And then we’ll see what’s next.” — AFP 

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