Virtual Book Launching Ceremony – “Disaster Victim Identification Malaysia – MH17 Tragedy: The Untold Story” and Signing of an MoA between UiTM and the Malaysian Society of Disaster Victim Identification

Shah Alam, 17 July- In commemoration of the 2014 MH17 tragedy, the Institute of Pathology, Forensic and Laboratory Medicine (I-PPerForM), Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM) in collaboration with the National Institute of Forensic Medicine (IPFN), Ministry of Health Malaysia launched a new book entitled ‘’Disaster Victim Identification Malaysia – MH17 Tragedy: The Untold Story”.

The Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) between I-PPerForM UiTM and the MSDVI documents the agencies’ collaborative research and partnership in the advancement of DVI. The Virtual Book Launching Ceremony and MoA signing were attended by the Director-General of Health, Ministry of Health Malaysia, Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah; Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic & International), Exercising Functions of Vice-Chancellor of UiTM, Prof. Ts. Dr Hajah Roziah Mohd Janor; Deputy Vice Chancellor (Research & Innovation), Professor Ts. Dr Mohd Nazip Suratman, Chairman of MSDVI and MH17 DVI Commander (Medical) DVI Malaysia; Datuk Dr Mohd Shah Mahmood; I-PPerForM Director, Professor Datin Dr Hapizah Md Nawawi; and IPFN Director, Dr Mohamad Azaini Ibrahim.

The book was released as a result of a collaborative effort by a team with multidisciplinary expertise, primarily from the IPFN, MOH, and the I-PPerForM, one of UiTM’s Centres of Excellence (CoE), in collaboration with several national agencies including the Malaysian Armed Forces (ATM), Hospital Kuala Lumpur, UiTM Faculty of Arts and Design, Creative Media and Technology Hub, and Academy of Language Studies.

This book chronicles and documents the series of events that took place from 18 July to 18 August 2014, the one month when DVI Malaysia, a team consisting of personnel from the Ministry of Health Malaysia (MOH), the Malaysian Armed Forces (ATM), the Royal Malaysian Police (RMP), Kimia Malaysia (KM) and other international agencies. They were involved in the management and implementation of DVI operations for the MH17 crash. The untold story of the aircraft black box retrieval from Ukraine by the Malaysian team was revealed in this book in a unique albeit highly risky experience in Ukraine.

It provides insight to the public on the conventional workflow of DVI and the incorporation of modern DVI methodologies to increase the efficiency of the victim identification process. The current advancement in the analysis of primary identifiers is included, such as digital capture of fingerprints, modern on-site DNA analysis, and the utilisation of artificial intelligence in dental profiling. After this tragedy, DVI research in Malaysia has evolved, supported by the Ministry of Higher Education (MOHE) TRGS (Transdisciplinary Research Grant Scheme), awarded to UiTM. This programme incorporating both science, technology and social aspects of DVI, focuses on smart drone utilisation and gathering information using state-of-the-art technology for rapid and efficient acquisition of primary and secondary identifiers warranted in DVI. Gathering information within the first 48-hours golden rule is challenging but essential for quick identification and release of the victims’ bodies to their families.

This book on the MH 17 Tragedy, prepared from the perspective of our Malaysian DVI team, and the first to be published by fellow Malaysians, serves as a legacy to the younger generations, as one of the pivotal reference material on this national historical tragedy. It is based on the documented experience of the Malaysian DVI team in an international mission, which can be shared with others. This virtual book launch commemorated the tragedy seven years ago. The earnest services and contributions of all the individuals and agencies involved in identifying and bringing back home remain the victims to their grieving families, culminating in pacifying ultimate closure.

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