LONDON (AFP) – Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim on Friday accused the government of hiding information on missing flight MH370, telling Britain’s Daily Telegraph that the country’s radar system would have detected any change of course.
Anwar, who recently had his acquittal on sodomy charges overturned in what he claims is a political smear, said he was “baffled” why the sophisticated Marconi radar system that he authorised as finance minister in 1994 had failed to immediately detect the plane’s deviation.
The Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 went missing in the early hours of March 8 during a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, carrying 239 people on board.
He described it as “not only unacceptable but not possible, not feasible” that it could travel across “at least four” Malaysian provinces undetected, adding: “I believe the government knows more than us”.
“We don’t have the sophistication of the United States or Britain but still we have the capacity to protect our borders,” he stressed.
The radar system, based near the South China Sea, covers mainland Malaysia.
Anwar defended the aircraft’s pilot, 53-year-old Zaharie Ahmad Shah, who is also a personal friend and a member of his political party.
“If you say or suggest that the pilot may have been involved, what about the concealing (of information)?” he told the Telegraph.
“He could not have concealed the radar readings. He could not have instructed the air force to remain completely silent.”
Anwar was sentenced to five years in jail just hours before MH370 took off after a Court of Appeals panel sided with a government challenge to his 2012 acquittal on charges he sodomised a male former aide. He is currently on bail.
Once a rising star in Malaysia’s long-ruling party until his spectacular ouster in the late 1990s, Anwar has alleged a long-running campaign by the ruling regime to destroy his political career with false charges.
He leads a pro-democracy coalition of parties that shocked the government by claiming over half of the popular vote in last year’s general election, though it was not enough to secure victory.