Malaysian Opposition Leader Rules Out 'Suicide' by Lost Jet's Pilot

Malaysia\'s opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim today dismissed as \"illogical\" the speculation that the missing plane\'s pilot - his relative and a staunch opposition supporter - may have committed suicide.

Published: 18th March 2014 06:58 PM  |   Last Updated: 18th March 2014 07:15 PM   |  A+A-

Malaysia Plane_AP

Malaysia's opposition leader  Anwar Ibrahim today dismissed as "illogical" the speculation  that the missing plane's pilot - his relative and a staunch  opposition supporter -  may have committed suicide.   

Anwar, 66-year-old former deputy prime minister, also said Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah is related to his son's in-laws.    

When asked to comment on speculation that Zaharie may have committed "pilot suicide" on account of Anwar's recent conviction on sodomy charges, the opposition leader said it was "illogical" as there were many other Malaysians who were not happy with his conviction. 

"I believe 90 per cent of taxi drivers support me and are not happy with the decision. But they did not hijack their taxi," he was quoted by Star as saying.      

Anwar said Zaharie, 53, was a staunch opposition supporter and that he had met him on a few occasions at party functions.        

"I am not denying that he (Zaharie) is related to one of my in-laws and that I have met him on several occasions. In fact, he is a close friend of (opposition PKR supreme council member and MP) R Sivarasa, as we said before," said Anwar, who was sentenced to five years in jail earlier this month on sodomy charges.        

"However, to politicise it is not right. We should respect the family's rights and pray for them instead of prosecuting him before the investigation is completed," he told reporters. 

Captain Zaharie and his first officer are under the scanner of the probe into the disappearance of the Malaysia Airlines flight MH370.   

The Beijing-bound Boeing 777-200 plane with 239 people aboard went missing an hour after taking off from Kuala Lumpur on March 8. 

Malaysia's acting transport minister Hishammuddin Hussein  yesterday said police are looking into all angles, including  the possible pilot suicide, in their investigation into the  missing plane.

In the Malaysian capital, the Chinese envoy said, "No passenger from Chinese mainland aboard the missing MH370 flight was involved in a hijack or terror attack."         

Background check on all passengers from Chinese mainland has found no evidence on their involvement, he said.         

He also said nine naval vessels are ready to scour new areas along the southern corridor after concluding their futile hunt in South China Sea.        

The Chinese envoy said since a criminal investigation has been launched into the missing plane, some information is not suitable for disclosure at this moment.       

"The Malaysian government has been doing its best in search and investigation, but it lacks experience and capability to handle this kind of incident," he said.          

Hishammuddin said that based on new satellite information, investigators can say with a high degree of certainty that the Aircraft Communications Addressing and  Reporting System (ACARS) was disabled just before the aircraft  reached the East coast of peninsular Malaysia.      

These findings were drafted together with representatives from the lead international investigators, based on the information available at the time.            

"This does not change our belief, as stated, that up until the point at which it left military primary radar coverage, the aircraft’s movements were consistent with deliberate action by someone on the plane. That remains the position of the investigating team," he said.           

Meanwhile, a report in New York Times said the turn to the west that diverted the missing plane from its planned flight path from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing was carried out through a computer system that was most likely programmed by someone in the plane's cockpit who was knowledgeable about airplane systems.        

Quoting senior American officials, the paper said instead of manually operating the plane's controls, whoever altered the flight path typed seven or eight keystrokes into a computer in the cockpit.             

Reacting to the report, Malaysia Airlines CEO Ahmad Jauhari said the flight plan was for Beijing.       

"But once you are in the cockpit, anything is possible," he said, adding they are ruling nothing out in the investigation into what went wrong. 

When asked if the two pilots had flown earlier to the northern corridor, Jauhari said Malaysian Airlines did not fly on that corridor.             

Refusing to speculate, Hishamuddin said this was a unique and complex situation and "I believe if we can find the plane and its black box soon all questions would be answered".       

Australia said it had drastically narrowed its sector of the search area but was still looking in an expanse of ocean the size of Spain and Portugal.           

Hishamuddin said Malaysia was looking to the US to help in the search in the southern corridor. He said the subject came up in a discussion with US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel.   

"The US has best ability to assist us in southern corridor," Hishamuddin said.     

He said the southern search area has more of challenge because the area was so huge. He has asked the Malaysia military and its international partners to re-examine radar and satellite data.          

"The search and rescue operations have taken on a new international dimension. The search is still co-ordinated by Malaysia, but our partners have taken an increasing role in organising and carrying out operations, both within their own territory and also within agreed search sectors," he said.       

A UN-backed nuclear watchdog has said that it did not detect either any explosion or crash that could be linked to the missing plane.          

"Regarding the missing Malaysian Airlines flight... the Vienna-based Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) confirmed that neither an explosion nor a  plane crash on land or on water had been detected so far,"  Spokesman for UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon Stephane  Dujarric said.             

As Hishammuddin tired to clarify when the plane's Acars system was switched off, he insisted that the exact timing of the switch off does not affect the search effort.         

Hishammuddin rejected criticism from US officials that Malaysia has not been sharing as much information as it could with foreign governments.        

He denied reports that Malaysia had discouraged the Federal Bureau of Investigation from sending a team to Malaysia.    

"I have been working with them. It's up to the FBI to tell us if they need more experts to help because it's not for us to know what they have."        

Asked about the threat of hunger strike by relatives of those missing, Malaysia Airlines CEO said the company was doing "all it can" to keep relatives updated.     

Malaysia's minister of foreign affairs, Anifah bin Haji  Aman, told reporters that the search was "beyond politics". He said "all efforts should focus on finding the plane" and hanked Malaysia's international partners for their help.

Also Read:

Missing Jet: Thailand Gives Radar Data After 10 Days 

Latest Information on Search for Malaysian Plane - Day 10

Passengers, Crew on Board Missing Malaysia Plane  


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