Acting Transport Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein, who has been at the forefront of the search for Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, was caught up in a social media storm yesterday when he agreed with a tweet saying the disappearance of the aircraft was a "blessing in disguise", Australia's Herald Sun reported.
Many netizens were shocked when the minister expressed his agreement to a tweet posted by Malaysian journalist Ismail Amsyar Mohd Said who said: “MH370 is a blessing in disguise for all of us. I understand now the beauty of unity, the sweetness of having each other...”
Six minutes later, Hishammuddin tweeted: "Right u are:) @IsmailAmsyar: #MH370 is a blessing in disguise 4"all of us. I understand now d beauty of unity& sweetness of having each other."
His reply through his Twitter handle @HishammuddinH2O shocked his followers, who questioned the appropriateness of the tweet.
Herald Sun reported that many suggested that it was insulting to the families of the 239 people on board the Malaysia Airlines passenger jet that has been missing since March 8.
Hishammuddin, who is very active on Twitter, has since removed his tweet.
Ismail, a Kuala Lumpur-based journalist with news agency Bernama, had also deleted his original tweet and has since been trying to apologise, explain and defend his intention.
He tweeted this morning that he is sorry "from the bottom of his heart" for his original tweet and claimed he got an online death threat, Herald Sun reported.
He also posted a series of tweets this morning: "Some may look at it as insensitive and I apologise for that. I have given my explanation on that tweet & those explanation weren't count."
"I got what u all meant... but i'm not being insensitive or anything. I look at them as my family and i want them back. My apology."
"I've been covering this issue since day 1. they are all my family, my Malaysian family & international family. if they hurt, so do i."
"But u guys shud see how united we are defending our country from being accused, how strong the local media dispelling -ve (negative) reports."
"Bottomline. MH370 is a catastrophe, yet th Msian solidarity & unity gushing frm the sorrow was examplary to blessing – y wsn't dis shown" (why wasn't this shown?)
"so if all of u believed i was insensitive, i apologise from the bottom of my heart. it wasn't meant to be that way."
"and @HishammuddinH2O definitely shudn't be blame."
Ismail then criticised other media organisations covering the missing plane story with tweets like: "there r (are) a lot of other media reports that are insensitive. Do they apologise? no. did it hurt the families' feelings? yes. all of u quiet."
"y did the media said 'crashed' when our PM said "ended". u guys said 'no survivors' when PM didn't spit a word about it."
"your reports crushed our feelings, the families' feelings when they r still hoping their love ones will come back. did any of u apologise?"
Ismail also apologised to Hishammuddin for "dragging him" into the controversy.
"I hereby apology for the tweet I sent yesterday on 'blessing in disguise' and @HishammuddinH2O should not be blamed."
Hishammuddin, as Putrajaya's spokesperson throughout the crisis, has had to fend off criticism from the anguished families of passengers aboard MH370 and also international media over claims that the authorities had been giving contradictory information and also withholding certain details.
Opposition lawmakers too were upset with the minister for failing to brief them on the aircraft's disappearance.
MH370 disappeared off the radar while flying from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing more than three weeks ago with 227 passengers and a crew of 12.
The massive multinational search efforts have yet to yield any evidence of the plane that is believed to have crashed in the southern Indian Ocean. – April 3, 2014.