UK & World News

  • 4 April 2014, 17:18

Missing Plane: Malaysia 'Concealing Information'

The Malaysian government has been deliberately concealing information about missing flight MH370, the country's main opposition leader has claimed.

In an interview with Sky News, Anwar Ibrahim cast doubt on official accounts coming from the authorities in his country and accused ministers of a "betrayal of trust" over their handling of the investigation.

Anwar's comments came as Australian authorities launched the underwater phase of the search - but they admitted time is running out to detect pings from the plane's black box recorder.

Veteran politician Anwar said it was "not only unacceptable but not possible, not feasible" that the plane had not been sighted by the sophisticated Marconi radar system immediately after it changed course.

He claimed the radar would have instantly detected the jet as it travelled east to west across "at least four" Malaysian provinces.

He told Sky: "There is no reason as to why they are not able to detect the flight movement.

"If you can allow this to happen, then it is a betrayal of the people's trust. You cannot rely on an incompetent ministry to decide on our own security.

"They will have to explain. If they can't, they will have to tell us why this vital piece of information has been concealed from the general public and international community."

He added: "The system is opaque in the sense that they are used to a very compliant media, compliant judiciary, which will only question at the behest of the ruling establishment.

"When the information is available why not cooperate with international authorities and release it?"

Anwar, who personally knew MH370 pilot Zaharie Ahmad Shah, has called for an international committee to take over the Malaysian-led operation, saying "the integrity of the whole nation is at stake".

He indicated it was even possible that there was "complicity by authorities on the ground" in what happened to the plane and the 239 people on board.

A Malaysian government spokesman responded to Anwar's comments, saying: "Anwar has made numerous unfounded allegations criticising Malaysia.

"Instead of trying to exploit the MH370 tragedy to score political points, it would be constructive if he could support the government as it coordinates the multinational search operation for MH370."

Anwar was sentenced to five years in jail just hours before MH370 took off after his acquittal on sodomy charges was overturned.

He is currently on bail and claims the charges against him are a political smear.

Attention has been focused on pilot Mr Zaharie's link to Anwar, with allegations he may have hijacked his own plane in response to the politician's sentencing.

But Mr Zaharie'sfriends and family have rejected the reports that he was deeply upset by the Anwar case or that he was a political fanatic.

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak and his Australian counterpart Tony Abbott have pledge that no effort would be spared to give the families of those on board the answers they need.

The two countries are heading multinational efforts in the Indian Ocean in the hunt for debris to solve the mystery of the jet, which vanished on March 8.

Mr Razak, whose government has been harshly criticised by some victims' families for giving sometimes conflicting information about the flight and for the slow pace of the investigation, described the search as a "gargantuan task".

But he insisted there would be no let up for the sake of the victims' families.

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