News / Asia

Malaysia Opposition Leader Slams Attempts to Link Him to Missing Plane

FILE - Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim (C) and his wife Wan Azizah arrive at a court house in Putrajaya, March 7, 2014.
FILE - Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim (C) and his wife Wan Azizah arrive at a court house in Putrajaya, March 7, 2014.
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, told VOA he 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," he stated.

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

Chin said 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," he said.

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. Sodomy is punishable by up to 20 years in prison under a colonial-era law in Malaysia.

Chin said 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."

You May Like

Lebanese Media Unite to Support Palestinians in Gaza

Joint newscast billed as Arab world’s first unified news bulletin in support of Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip More

Photogallery Australian PM Alleges ‘Coverup’ at MH17 Crash Site

Meanwhile, Russia's ambassador to Malaysia denies plane's black boxes were opened before they were handed over to Malaysian officials More

Despite Advances in AIDS Treatment, Stigma Lingers

Leading immunologist tells VOA that stigma is often what prevents those infected with disease from seeking treatment More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Formi
X
July 22, 2014 10:26 AM
Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Chicago’s Argonne Lab Developing Battery of the Future

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a $120 million grant to a new technology center focused on battery development - headquartered at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there scientists are making the next technological breakthroughs in energy storage.
Video

Video In NW Pakistan, Army Offensive Causes Massive Number of Displaced

Pakistan’s army offensive in North Waziristan has resulted in the large-scale displacement of the local population. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from northwest Pakistan where authorities say around 80 percent of the estimated 1 million internally displaced persons [IDPs] have settled in Bannu district, while much of the remaining 20 percent are scattered in nearby cities.
Video

Video Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.
Video

Video Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Malaysia is reeling from the second air disaster in four months involving the country’s flag carrier. Flight 340 vanished in March and despite an extensive search, no debris has been found. And on Thursday, Flight 17, likely hit by a surface-to-air missile, came apart over eastern Ukraine. The two incidents together have left more than 500 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kuala Lumpur.

AppleAndroid