MH370 search ship Seabed Constructor. Source: ABC News Australia: Robert Koenig-Luck

ABC News Australia has exclusively reported of a “power struggle” within the new MH370 search. The report says the Malaysian military wants to replace four civilian air crash investigators with seven RMAF fighter and helicopter pilots with a lot less crash investigation experience. One of the investigators that is to be replaced is the lead authority on analysing the flight data recorder.

“Until now, the MH370 search has been conducted by eight civilian aviation experts including Malaysians as well as foreign nationals, one of them from the Australian Transport Safety Bureau.”

The stoush has come over reported budget constraints.

Colonel Lau Ing Hiong, a part of the RMAF secondment to the search team, said “he saw his role on the team as being there in anticipation of the black boxes being found, but denied there would be a military operation to secure them.”

ABC News cites anonymous sources linked to the investigation are concerned the move has tarnished the independence of the search. Concerns include possible questions over the chain of evidence and “perceived conflict of interest for military personnel between the civilian chief of the search and their military commander.”

“The director-general of Malaysia’s civil aviation authority declined an extended interview, but said: ‘These investigations need to be done by independent bodies.'”

The Malaysian Air Force was involved in the investigation of MH17.

The news comes the same day Seabed Constructor docked in Fremantle for refuelling. The Seabed Constructor is undertaking a private search for MH370 with a no find no fee contract with the Malaysian government.

The ship has also been subject to conspiracy theories this week after it turned off it’s transponder for 80 hours, removing it from ship tracking sites. The Malaysian government knows why the transponder was turned off but has not disclosed why.

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