World News

Malaysia's Anwar Slams 'Desperate Attempt' to Link Him to Missing Plane

Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim is rejecting what he calls a "desperate attempt" to link him to the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370.

Several recent reports suggest the missing plane's pilot, Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah, was an active member of Anwar's opposition People's Justice Party.

Speculation about Zaharie's involvement in the plane's disappearance intensified after Malaysian authorities said the jet was likely deliberately diverted.

Some foreign media reports suggest Zaharie hijacked the plane because he was angry about Anwar's sodomy conviction, which occurred hours before the plane took off.

But in a blog post, Anwar said casting aspersions on Zaharie's character or suggesting that his political leanings are to blame for the jet's disappearance are "reckless, insensitive ... (and) highly defamatory."



The Singapore-based Straits Times reported Tuesday that Anwar acknowledged the pilot is related to one of his in-laws and that the two have met on several occasions.

He said the rumors were "part of the routine character assassination campaign" against him by government and ruling party-controlled media.

Political Science Professor James Chin, a Malaysia expert at Australia's Monash University, tells VOA he also sees political motivations behind the accusations.



"I think this is just political finger-pointing from the government side to try and divert the attention. I personally do not think there is any link between the missing plane, the pilot and Anwar Ibrahim."



Malaysian authorities have been repeatedly criticized for releasing incomplete or contradictory information about the massive, multinational search for the plane.

Chin says Anwar could serve as a useful distraction from this criticism.



"I think Anwar is correct. There has been a lot of pressure on the Malaysian authorities. So stories like this linking him to the pilot are used to divert attention from the Malaysian authorities."



Anwar has been critical of the government's handling of the search. In his blog post, he noted that "many questions have been raised regarding not just the competency of the authorities in the investigation, but also the sheer lack of transparency."

Malaysian Defense Minister Hishammuddin Hussein on Tuesday denied bringing Anwar's name into the airplane probe. At a daily press conference, he urged "all Malaysians to put differences aside and unite during this difficult time."

The 66-year-old Anwar's political career is a highly charged topic in Malaysia. On March 7, an appeals court overturned his acquittal on charges of sodomy, ruling he was guilty of having sex with a man who was then his aide.

Anwar, and many international and local human rights groups, say the charges are politically motivated and meant to keep him from gaining more power during upcoming elections. S odomy is punishable by up to 20 years in prison under a colonial-era law in Malaysia.

Chin says it is unfortunate that a nasty domestic political dispute has been brought into the discussion on the plane's disappearance, but insists that soon enough, "the plane will be found and this will all be forgotten."

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam Wari
X
Katherine Gypson
May 25, 2015 1:32 AM
For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.
Video

Video On Film: How Dance Defies Iran's Political Oppression

'Desert Dancer' by filmmaker Richard Raymond is based on the true story of a group of young Iranians, who form an underground dance troupe in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the latest in a genre of films that focus on dance as a form of freedom of expression against political oppression and social injustice. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Turkey's Ruling Party Trying to Lure Voters in Opposition Stronghold

Turkey’s AK (Justice and Development) Party is seeking a fourth successive general election victory, with the goal of securing two-thirds of the seats in Parliament to rewrite the constitution and change the country's parliamentary system into a presidential one. To achieve that, the party will need to win seats in opposition strongholds like the western city of Izmir. Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.
Video

Video Scientists Testing Space Propulsion by Light

Can the sun - the heart of our solar system - power a spacecraft to the edge of our solar system? The answer may come from a just-launched small satellite designed to test the efficiency of solar sail propulsion. Once deployed, its large sail will catch the so-called solar wind and slowly reach what scientists hope to be substantial speed. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video FIFA Trains Somali Referees

As stability returns to the once lawless nation of Somalia, the world football governing body, FIFA, is helping to rebuild the country’s sport sector by training referees as well as its young footballers. Abdulaziz Billow has more from Mogadishu.
Video

Video With US Child Obesity Rates on the Rise, Program Promotes Health Eating

In its fifth year, FoodCorps puts more than 180 young Americans into 500 schools across the United States, where they focus on teaching students about nutrition, engaging them with hands-on activities, and improving their access to healthy foods whether in the cafeteria or the greater community. Aru Pande has more.
Video

Video Virginia Neighborhood Draws People to Nostalgic Main Street

In the U.S., people used to grow up in small towns with a main street lined by family-owned shops and restaurants. Today, however, many main streets are worn down and empty because shoppers have been lured away by shopping malls. But in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria, Virginia, main street is thriving. VOA’s Deborah Block reports it has a nostalgic feel with its small restaurants and unique stores.

VOA Blogs