At May 25, 2018 Dutch Foreign Minister Stef Blok made public the Netherlands and Australia hold Russian Federation liable for the downing of MH17.
Remarkably Malaysia was not part of the initiative. The fear Malaysia could leak intelligence to Russia seems to be the most likely reason.
The Malaysian government responded after the JIT pressconference with a press release. Unlike EU countries, NATO Malaysia did not mention the role of Russia. “We will study the findings contained in the report carefully” could be an indication Malaysia was not fully informed about what JIT would present at the press conference.
The current Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad does not have the best relation with Australia. Wikipedia states
Mahathir’s relationship with Australia (the closest country in the Anglosphere to Malaysia, and the one whose foreign policy is most concentrated on the region), and his relationship with Australia’s political leaders, has been particularly rocky. Relationships between Mahathir and Australia’s leaders reached a low point in 1993 when Paul Keating described Mahathir as “recalcitrant” for not attending the APEC summit.
Malaysia joined the Joint Investigation Team 4 months after the start as a results of not being trusted by Ukraine.
196 Dutch and 27 Australian citizens lost their lives. Other grieving nations part of the Joint Investigation Team are Malaysia (42 people died) and Belgium (4 people died) . Both states at the moment do no hold Russia liable.
At May 25 Minister Blok stated in an interview on Dutch tv programm Pauw :
As governments which suffered from so many casualties we have the responsibilty to make sure the perpetrators will face a judge
Again, the number of casulaties having a Malaysian nationality is higher than those of Australia. Malaysia would be a more logical candidate based on the number of casualties.
Host Jeroen Pauw asked if Minister Blok tried to have other nations join the initiative of holding Russia liable. Minister Blok responded:
Because it is a very complex process , it is legally complex and you do not want to have leaks, we took the initiave with these two countries. We informed earlier this week other countries and these are invited to join.
There is a difference per country if it has signed all the treaties which are required for such a liability claim.
The statement is given in the beginning of the interview.
So what treaty Minister Blok could mean which was not signed by Belgium or Malaysia?
One of the likely treaties on which Russia is held liable for downing MH17 is the Montreal 1971 convention. The name of this convention is ‘Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts against the Safety of Civil Aviation‘ . Both Malaysia and Belgium signed this treaty.
So the fear by both the Netherlands and Australia that Malaysia would leak information to Russia seems to be the major reason to exclude Malaysia. Both states likely decided to exclude Belgium as well so the suspicion would not be on Malaysia.
Malaysia the outsider of JIT investigation
I wrote about the vague role of Malaysia in this blogpost. Malaysia joined JIT about 4 months after the start. There are a couple of reasons for the delayed join as explained here. The death penalty is still active in Malaysia, and Ukraine does not trust Malaysia because it negotiated directly with the separatists to obtain the black boxes.
Malaysia always kept a neutral role. Ukraine has always been very hostile against Russia. In May 2016 Malaysia and Russia made an agreement on cooperation in investigation MH17.
At May 23, 2018 one day before the JIT pressconference, Russian radio station Echo Moscow published an article (archive) which stated that JIT would announce the next day the involvement of the 53rd anti-aircraft Brigade based in Kursk. Journalist Pavel Kanygin was referring to sources close to the investigation.
It is remarkable Russian media knew in advance what JIT would make public the next day. There is a possibility Malaysia informed Russia about the content of the pressconference.
Malaysia government in its pressrelease could be understood that it was not fully aware of what JIT would present at the pressconference. The county might have been informed a few days before with just some basic information of what would be presented.
Malaysia PM in 2015 stated investigation was not objectively
In 2015 the at that time former prime minister Mahathir bin Mohamad was interviewed by RT. He was the fourth Prime Minister from 1981 to 2003. And in 2018 Mahathir was sworn-in as Prime Minister on 10 May 2018.
He stated in the 2015 interview “there is too much secrecy regarding the investigation which is not satisfactory”. Saying that the country is “very neutral because there is no real evidence,” the politician said that the investigation of the Malaysia Airlines crash, which claimed the lives of all 298 people on board, was “quite unusual.”“Involvement of Malaysia is limited,”the ex-prime minister said. He also said he does not accept accusations against Russia. “One of the suspects of shooting down the plane could be Ukraine, Mahathir bin Mohamad stated. When asked by the RT report “do you think this investigation is carried out objectively?” the response of the now Prime Minster was “I do not think so”.
The relationship of Mahathir bin Mohamad with Australia is not a very good one.
He refused to take part in the inaugural Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in 1993 and pushed for the exclusion of Australia, prompting then prime minister Paul Keating to famously label him a “recalcitrant” (ABC in Australia)
Malaysian media reported more than any other media in the other grieving nations on nonsense stories pushed by the Russian media. This is the frontpage of New Strait Times of August 6, 2014 . New Straits Times and most mainstream media merely serve as propaganda mouthpieces for the ruling Barisan Nasional
At May 30, 2018 New Strait Times published a column on MH17 titled ‘Credibility of JIT questioned‘. A quote taken from the column:
The presence of Ukrainian investigators instantly tainted JIT’s findings. It was believed that any evidence brought into the public eye by JIT had first been screened and okayed by “one of the suspects”. As such, none of the evidence, analysis or conclusions can be counted objective, fair or accurate.
At May 30, 2018 Channel News Asia published an interview with Malaysia Transport minister Anthony Loke. He stated
There is no conclusive evidence to confirm that Russia was responsible for the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17
At the weekly pressconference by PM Rutte of the Netherlands he stated Malaysia would soon release a new statement as a response to the JIT pressconference.
That statement came a few days later on Wednesday June 6. There are no words in the press release about holding Russian Federation liable. It is political blabla without saying anything relevant or unexpected.
Malaysia press agency Bernama reported:
Malaysia is unwavering in its resolve to hold the perpetrators responsible for the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 (MH17) in July 2014, accountable for their actions.
Transport Minister Anthony Loke said that Malaysia and the other Dutch-led Joint Investigation Team (JIT) members would not rest until they have secured justice for the innocent victims of flight MH17, and provide closure for the victims’ loved ones.
Malaysia on Skripal and murder of half-brother of the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un
Malaysia did not expel Russian diplomats as a response to the poisoning of Skripal. BBC reports about Malaysia in this article. On the murder of the half-brother of North-Korea dictator Kim Jong-un Malaysia was also soft. BBC concludes:
For whatever reason Malaysia is choosing to let North Korea’s presumed role in the killing remain in the shadows.