Malaysia Airlines flight 370

U-turn as Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim admits MH370 pilot is in-law's relative

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 18 March, 2014, 11:24pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 19 March, 2014, 12:51pm

Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim has admitted the missing plane's captain, Zaharie Ahmad Shah, is a relative of his daughter in-law, contradicting comments he made a day earlier.

"I am not denying that he [Zaharie] is related to one of my in-laws and that I have met him on several occasions," he was quoted by The Straits Times as saying.

"In fact, he is a close friend of Sivarasa Rasiah, as we said before," he said.

Sivarasa is vice-president of the People's Justice Party, of which Anwar is de facto leader.

"Ninety per cent of taxi drivers out there are our supporters, but they don't go and hijack the cabs," Malaysian media quoted Anwar as saying.

When asked on Monday whether he knew Zaharie, Anwar replied: "I don't recollect the name, but when the photographs were shown, I remembered I had seen him at party meetings." He also said they had had no personal contact. But a parliamentary member from Malaysia's ruling party questioned Anwar's ties with Zaharie.

Anwar wrote an article on his blog yesterday dismissing claims that Zaharie's political affiliation and family ties had an influence on the plane's disappearance.

"I cannot express enough my disgust to those who are so ready, in the absence of any proof whatsoever, to pin the blame on Captain Zaharie," he wrote.

"I would like to express my deepest sympathy to his wife and children and his family too and to tell them to remain strong in these most trying times."

Anwar was sentenced to five years' jail on a charge of sodomy several hours before Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 went missing in the early hours of March 8.

The fact that Zaharie was a member of Anwar's party led some to speculate that the pilot was responsible for the flight's disappearance. That followed investigations by the Malaysian authorities that revealed the plane was apparently deliberately diverted from its flight path by someone with aviation skills.