I think the Chinese have run it in for scrap........
The reason they gave for it being possible to shut down the tracking devices via circuit breakers is in case the device malfunctions and catches fire which is a bit more of a problem at 35000ft than it is in a car.
They also shut them down when there are many aircraft stacking up waiting for their turn to land.......apparently.
Flying around that region with the transponder turned off would have made it very vulnerable to attack as it would essentially be an unidentified aircraft and it wouldn't be the first time an airliner has been shot down for invading a counties airspace, if it has been shot down the country that did it wouldn't be shouting it from the rooftops.
There are a lot of fake web sites/links popping up as the scammers attempt to profit from the interest that this news story is attracting so be careful out there:
Beware fake Malaysia Airlines news scams (Wired UK)
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