The crash of an airplane is always a bad, sad event especially one that’s carrying a full load like MH17.
What makes this event even sadder than sad is the fact that it was shot down, with suspicions resting on the heads of the Ukrainian rebels backed by Russia.
No one onboard, as far as anyone knows, the ill-fated Boeing 777 had anything to do with the Russia-Ukraine squabbles. So it’s a random, pointless and baseless tragedy!
Making this shocking event especially brain-numbing shocking is the fact it’s Malaysia Airlines’ second air tragedy in just four months. 😥
For me, who is linked to Malaysia by personal history, kinship, friendships and the sheer proximity of our countries, I feel as numbed as I would feel if MH17 were a close personal friend.
So, I was snappy with a VVIP Singaporean friend who Whatsapp me from Bangkok with this message: “Malaysia really tak boleh. This year two total wipeouts of planes with lots of passengers. How they cope with Isis?”
I replied: “Pse don’t blame Malaysia. MH370 still a total mystery. MH17 a matter of timing, Ukraine rebels etc. Just pray this doesn’t happen to SIA. As for Isis, just blame US n the Israelis.”
No further contact from him.
Guess I must have pissed him of.
Just as I was pissed off to read on the front page of The Straits Times of July 19, below the banner headline top story, one that was titled “Lucky couple, someone must have been watching over us…”
It’s about a Scottish couple who had been planning to fly on MH17 but switched to a later KLM flight because MH17 was full.
Mr Barry Sim and his wife Izzy, who heard about the tragedy on the way to the airport, spoke of the “sick feeling” they experienced on hearing the news. Mr Sim told the (UK) Telegraph: “You get this sick feeling in the pit of your stomach We started getting butterflies. Your heartbeat starts going.”
His wife added: “There must have been someone watching over us and saying ‘you must not get on that flight’. “Coming to the airport in the taxi I was just crying … I feel like I’ve been given a second chance.”
As a bystander, I was upset by the headline. I can imagine what those who lost friends, loved ones, even whole families, would feel.
If someone watched over the Sims so that they didn’t board the ill-fated flight, what did it mean for the 298 who perished? There were babies, grandmothers, even a nun. No supernatural forces were on their side? Surely not!
I am sure Mrs Sim hadn’t intended to convey what the headline made her appear to imply — or encourage those reading it to infer adverse meanings.
But the fact is, that was how it came across. At least to me.
Hence today I am glad on re-checking the online version of the ST July 19 issue, I found the Sims’ account carried a factual and neutral headline: Malaysia Airlines MH17: Scottish couple missed flight which was overbooked.
In recent years, the Internet has helped to proliferate feel-good aphorisms, taglines or sayings that are meant to uplift and convey “there but for the grace of you-know-who”…
I however never feel good to say “I used to complain about my tight-fitting shoes till I met someone with no feet.”
I prefer to feel good on meeting someone who has everything and realise that compared with the best I can still count myself lucky.
For in this world of unpredictability and constant change beyond our control, it is better to live by the Chinese saying 塞翁失馬焉知非福 (Saiweng Shima, Yanzhi Feifu)