After six days of searching for the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, can we still expect a modern version of the happy ending in Robinson Crusoe?
As of Thursday, we are far from having a clear picture of what happened. Most of what we have heard from briefings, denials and refusals to comment by investigating teams has served to deepen the mystery.
Among discrepancies in statements, the families of passengers on board the plane are waiting in desperate hope of a miracle bringing about the safe return of their loved ones. And people around the world look for signs of wreckage in an ocean as deep as their new worries about how to rely on aviation, believed to be the safest way to travel.
It is common to have confusion and misinformation in the initial hours of air disasters in any country. But after six days, we still don't know why there was not a single glimmer of a signal from the state-of-the-art and highly automated aircraft.
We have very limited information about the crew members except for the last words, "good night," transmitted to ground controllers, a morsel of information which was not dispensed until Wednesday upon relatives' requests.
We still don't know why the last time of contact with the plane has been repeatedly revised, from 2:40 to 1:30 and then 2:15 a.m.
As for the greatest confusion, we still in fact don't know whether MH370 definitely turned back and crossed westward into the Malacca Strait.
U.S. investigators reportedly suspect the plane stayed in the air for about four hours after it reached its last confirmed location. If this is true, the Boeing 777200 could have reached as far as the Indian Ocean or even the Arabian Sea.
In 2009, an Air France Airbus A330 flying to Paris disappeared off the coast of Brazil and it took five days to find the site of the crash.
In the case of MH370, it was only after five days of searching off the east coast of Malaysia that military officials revealed their air defense radar detected an unidentified object early on Saturday north of the Malacca Strait off Malaysia's west coast.
Any tiny inaccuracy in such information can make a big difference to the search zone and, most importantly, the survival of 239 people.
As Malaysia Airlines is state owned, the Malaysian government is the core force in the fact-finding mission, but the home countries of passengers on board the plane have a right of access to the latest information so as to enhance the joint search and rescue.
If terrorism was behind the disappearance, which can neither be determined nor ruled out currently, information sharing would be a must for the entire international community.
It is the responsibility of authorities from all relevant countries to rule out loopholes in communication and tell the truth even it turns out to be cruel to families and friends of the passengers.
Unless transparency is ensured, the huge international search operation can never be as fruitful as we hope and expect.
When faced with catastrophe, honesty is human beings' best solution to finding a chance to prevent tragedies happening again.
It is a debt we owe to those who might have been lost. Endi