Monday 22 December 2014

Malaysian government 'hiding crucial information on lost jet'

Barney Henderson in London

Published 04/04/2014 | 02:30

Able Seaman Boatswains Mate Stephanie Went keeps watch for any sign of debris aboard the Australian Navy ship HMAS Toowoomba as it continues the search in the southern Indian Ocean for the missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370, in this picture released by the Australian Defence Force April 4, 2014. Malaysia's prime minister visited the Australian search base for missing Flight MH370 on Thursday as a nuclear-powered submarine joined the near-four week hunt that has so far failed to find any sign of the missing airliner and the 239 people on board. REUTERS/Australian Defence Force/Handout via Reuters (MID-SEA - Tags: MILITARY TRANSPORT MARITIME) ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS PICTURE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. REUTERS IS UNABLE TO INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THE AUTHENTICITY, CONTENT, LOCATION OR DATE OF THIS IMAGE. THIS PICTURE IS DISTRIBUTED EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS. NO SALES. NO ARCHIVES. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS
Able Seaman Boatswains Mate Stephanie Went keeps watch for any sign of debris aboard the Australian Navy ship HMAS Toowoomba as it continues the search in the southern Indian Ocean for the missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370
Crewmen on a Royal New Zealand Air Force P-3 Orion Rescue Flight 795 search for debris from the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 in southern Indian Ocean, 1,500 kilometers (932 miles) northwest of Perth, Australia
A crew member aboard a Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) AP-3C Orion maritime patrol aircraft prepares to launch a smoke canister to mark the position of an object spotted in the southern Indian Ocean during the search for the missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370
A crewman on a Royal New Zealand Air Force P-3 Orion Rescue Flight 795 searches for debris from the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, in southern Indian Ocean
The Bluefin 21, the Artemis autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV), is hoisted back on board the Australian Defence Vessel Ocean Shield after a successful buoyancy test in the southern Indian Ocean as part of the continuing search for the missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370
The Bluefin 21, the Artemis autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV), is hoisted back on board the Australian Defence Vessel Ocean Shield after a successful buoyancy test in the southern Indian Ocean as part of the continuing search for the missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370
A worker lowers from the Australian Defence Vessel Ocean Shield the U.S. Navy Supervisor of Salvage and Diving (SUPSALV) towed pinger locator into the ocean during operational testing in the southern Indian Ocean as part of the continuing search for the missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370
Australian Navy ship HMAS Toowoomba crashes through a wave as it continues the search in the southern Indian Ocean for the missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370, in this picture released by the Australian Defence Force April 4, 2014. Malaysia's prime minister visited the Australian search base for missing Flight MH370 on Thursday as a nuclear-powered submarine joined the near-four week hunt that has so far failed to find any sign of the missing airliner and the 239 people on board. REUTERS/Australian Defence Force/Handout (MID-SEA - Tags: MILITARY TRANSPORT DISASTER) MARITIME) ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS PICTURE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. REUTERS IS UNABLE TO INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THE AUTHENTICITY, CONTENT, LOCATION OR DATE OF THIS IMAGE. THIS PICTURE IS DISTRIBUTED EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS. NO SALES. NO ARCHIVES. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS
Australian Navy ships the HMAS Success (top) and the HMAS Toowoomba rendezvous to conduct a Replenishment at Sea evolution as they continue the search in the southern Indian Ocean for the missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370
Australian Navy ships the HMAS Success (L) and the HMAS Toowoomba rendezvous to conduct a Replenishment at Sea evolution as they continue the search in the southern Indian Ocean for the missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370
Tiger75, an S-70B-2 Seahawk, launches from the Australian Navy ship HMAS Toowoomba as it continues the search in the southern Indian Ocean for the missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370
Leading Seaman Aircrewman Joel Young looks out from Tiger75, an S-70B-2 Seahawk helicopter, after it launched from the Australian Navy ship the HMAS Toowoomba as it continues the search in the southern Indian Ocean for the missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370
The Bluefin 21, the Artemis autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV), is hoisted back on board the Australian Defence Vessel Ocean Shield after a successful buoyancy test in the southern Indian Ocean as part of the continuing search for the missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370
The Australian navy ship Ocean Shield lies docked at naval base HMAS Stirling while being fitted with a towed pinger locator to aid in her roll in the search for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 in Perth, Australia.
A Towed Pinger Locator (TPL), used to detect black box recorders, sits on the wharf at naval base HMAS Stirling in Perth, Australia, ready to be fitted to the Australian warship Ocean Shield to aid in the search for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370
Chinese relatives of passengers onboard the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 leave after a meeting at the Holiday Villa in Subang Jaya
Chinese relatives of passengers onboard the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 leave after a news conference at The Holiday Villa in Subang Jaya
A ground crewman guides a RAAF AP-3C Orion along the tarmac as it returns from the search for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 in Perth, Australia. Australia's Prime Minister Tony Abbott said Sunday he was hopeful clues will emerge soon to help find Flight 370 even though searchers again failed to find jet debris, as relatives of Chinese passengers on the plane protested in Malaysia to demand the government apologize over its handling of the search. AP
Australian prime minister Tony Abbott greets leaders of international forces being used to locate Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 in the Indian Ocean (AP)
Australian Defense ship Ocean Shield is docked at naval base HMAS Stirling while being fitted with an autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) and towed pinger locator to aid in the search for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370
Malaysian PM Najib Razak, centre, and Australia's PM Tony Abbott greet RAAF crew involved in the search for MH370 in Perth, Australia (AP)
A Korean Air Force P3 Orion returns from the search operation for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 (AP)

Malaysia's government is deliberately concealing information that would help to explain what happened to missing flight MH370, the country's opposition leader has claimed.

In an interview that cast doubt on the official investigation into the disappearance of the plane, Anwar Ibrahim said the country's "sophisticated" radar system would have identified it after it changed course and crossed back over Malaysia.

Mr Anwar, who knew the pilot of the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 that went missing in the early hours of March 8 during a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, called for an international committee to take over the Malaysian-led operation because "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.

In an interview, Mr Anwar said he had personally authorised the installation of "one of the most sophisticated radar" systems in the world, based near the South China Sea and covering Malaysia's mainland and east and west coastlines, when he was the country's finance minister in 1994.

The 66-year-old was once deputy prime minister in Malaysia's ruling coalition, which has governed the country since independence from Britain in 1957.

However, after falling out with the country's leaders, he was charged with sodomy, imprisoned twice and beaten in custody. He now leads a pro-democracy coalition of parties that lost last year's election despite winning more than 50pc of the popular vote amid allegations of corruption by the government.

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

The radar, he said, would have instantly detected the Boeing 777 as it travelled east to west across "at least four" Malaysian provinces.

BAFFLING

Mr Anwar said it was "baffling" that the country's air force had "remained silent", and claimed that it "should take three minutes under SOP [standard operating procedure] for the air force planes to go. And there was no response."

He added: "We don't have the sophistication of the United States or Britain but still we have the capacity to protect our borders."

He said the families of the 153 Chinese victims among those on board were right to demand information from the Malaysian government, which had permitted a multi-national search operation to spend a week looking in what it must have known was the wrong place.

"Why didn't we alert the Chinese, the Vietnamese that the operation should cease in the South China Sea and let them spend millions on search and rescue in a place that they know fairly well cannot be the site of the plane?"

As hope fades of recovering the plane's black box before its batteries start to fail, which could be as early as Monday, Mr Anwar said it was "at the least, incompetence" on the part of the Malaysian government that it is still not known what happened to the plane, but was also a deliberate "intention to suppress key information". "Unfortunately the manner in which this was handled after the first few days was clearly suspect," he said.

"I believe the government knows more than us. They have the authority to instruct the air force or Malaysia Airlines. They are privy to most of these missing bits of information critical to our understanding of this mysterious disappearance."

Mr Anwar indicated it was a possibility that officials on the ground were complicit in what happened on the plane. But he later added that "the realm of possibilities is so vague, I mean, anything can have happened".

Malaysian authorities did not respond officially to requests for comment on Mr Anwar's accusations, but have previously accused him of politicising the crisis. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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