The Jakarta Post
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has extended his prayers and condolences to the families of all passengers of the ill-fated Malaysian jetliner, as well as the Malaysian government, yet the question of whether the plane flew through Indonesian airspace remains unanswered.
On Tuesday, the Indonesian government strongly opposed speculation that Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, with 239 people on board, spent hours flying through Indonesian airspace without any radar detection before crashing in the southern Indian Ocean, west of Australia.
Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister Djoko Suyanto gave a press statement amid growing concerns the plane had indeed flown over Sumatra and Java, as suggested by graphic
reports from foreign print and electronic media. The possible route suggestions were made after Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak announced on Monday that the Boeing 777's journey had ended in remote waters west of Perth, Australia, and that all the people on board were likely dead.
'I followed the Malaysian Prime Minister's statement. [It] did not directly mention Indonesia. So, the southern corridor [of the Indian Ocean] here does not mean it [the plane] passed over Indonesia,' Djoko said on Tuesday. 'The last tracking point of the plane shows it headed west, near the Andaman and Nicobar Islands [west of Thailand].'
A spokesman from Djoko's office, Agus Barnas, later elaborated on Djoko's statement, saying the most likely route taken by the plane was via the northern Indian Ocean, west of Sumatra, then heading south to a location Najib indicated was the plane's crash point.
'Has there a single person who has confirmed the plane flew through our space? No.' Agus told The Jakarta Post.
The Indonesian Air Force has also repeatedly said that none of Indonesia's military radars detected a flying object that could have been MH370.
Malaysia's confused initial response to the Boeing 777's disappearance and how the plane mysteriously vanished from civilian air traffic control screens off Malaysia's east coast less than an hour after taking off from Kuala Lumpur en route to Beijing have fueled speculation on how it disappeared.
Najib's statement also incited anger and protests from the relatives of the passengers in Beijing on Tuesday.
Agus said, 'another military radar suggestion said that it was once detected in the Andaman Islands. So, it could very likely have cleared Sumatra island in the north before making another turn to the south until it was 2,500 kilometers from Perth.'
'Don't be misled by graphical illustrations and maps because our earth is not flat like those maps,' he added.
When asked about the possibility some of the military radars could have been inactive at the time MH370 flew over Indonesia, Agus said, 'don't trust rumors so easily.'
Last week, Indonesian officials, including Djoko and Yudhoyono, dismissed suspicions Indonesia had something to do with the missing aircraft, saying that all seven Indonesian passengers on board had no militant backgrounds.
On Monday, just before midnight, Yudhoyono extended his condolences to the families, the Malaysian people, as well as to Najib after he learned of the Prime Minister's announcement earlier that day.
'My deep condolences go out to their families and my prayers to those on MH370. To the government and people of Malaysia, please accept our heartfelt sympathy for these tragic circumstances,' Yudhoyono wrote.
On Tuesday afternoon, Najib replied: 'Malaysia respects this support from its neighbor and friend.'