BEIJING – Every single weekday, Madam Dai Shuqin takes two buses and spends almost two hours making her way to the central office of Malaysia Airlines (MAS) in Beijing.
She has kept to this routine religiously ever since MAS closed its family support centre – where her visits used to be made – near the Chinese capital’s airport last April.
“I have not missed a single day in making my presence known to MAS,” Madam Dai, 63, told The Sunday Times.
“I know nothing can come from it but it’s the only thing I can do to demand answers from those most responsible, and so I drag my tired body there.”
Two years on, the pain of losing her sister on Flight MH370 remains as searing for Madam Dai as the moment she first heard that the plane had disappeared.
Her sister, Madam Dai Shuling, 59 – and her husband, daughter, son-in-law and grandson – were passengers on the jetliner that vanished on March 8, 2014 shortly after taking off from Kuala Lumpur for Beijing. Of the 239 people on board, 153 were Chinese nationals.
If anything, the wait and search for answers has only tormented Madam Dai further. She suffers from anxiety and depression, a constant migraine, and has lost more than 10 kg since the ordeal begin.
“The quest for the truth has almost taken my life. I feel so angry and frustrated all the time, but all I can do is swallow this injustice,” said Madam Dai, tears welling up in her eyes.
“The officials in charge tell me I’m just a sister, unlike others whose parents or children were on the plane and have stronger next-of-kin ties, but our parents are no longer alive and I must find her ,” she added.
Madam Dai continues to believe her relatives are still alive and are possibly caught up in a “political conspiracy”.
With the advance of technology, it is impossible that almost no debris or bodies have been found after such a long time unless they are being deliberately hidden, she reasons.
Madam Dai has also declined an out-of-court settlement with MAS, which she said could entitle her to US$380,000 (S$522,400) in compensation, choosing instead to join a class action lawsuit.
This year’s anniversary is particularly crucial, as there is a two-year deadline from the time a plane goes missing for family members to file lawsuits over air accidents, according to the 1999 Montreal Convention, of which Malaysia is a signatory.
But for Madam Dai, the quest for the truth is something that money cannot buy.
“I’m not interested in the compensation,” she said. ” I’m already half of who I was before, but even if one day I can no longer walk, or can no longer afford the bus fare to get to the MAS office, I will still crawl here to demand answers.”
This article was first published on March 6, 2016.
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