Anwar says would apologise to Chinese over MH370


(MM) – Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim said he would recommend an apology to China over Malaysia’s handling of flight MH370 crisis if the opposition leader were given a say in the matter.

Speaking in London during an interview with Channel 4 News’ Jonathan Rugman, Anwar asserted that the Malaysian government had “blundered” in the way it conducted search operations for the Malaysia Airlines plane that disappeared on March 8 with 239 people — 153 of whom were Chinese — on board.

“If I have a say, I would say first you need to apologise because some blunders were committed, for example the way we treated some passengers and the fact we knew that the plane turned back but we continued to let the Chinese and the Vietnamese to continue searching in the South China Sea,” Anwar said.

He was answering Rugman’s question about the anger that some Chinese citizens have directed at Malaysia since the plane’s disappearance.

The de facto leader of the PKR political party said, however, that while the initial anger was justified, China and its citizens must also accept the “unprecedented” nature of MH370’s disappearance.

“[But] now it is up to the Malaysian authorities to assure them to not extend to calling for the boycott of the Malaysian agents, airlines, Visit Malaysia Year, which I think is not proper, because for the incompetence or the failure of authorities, you cannot condemn the nation or the people at large,” Anwar added.

He earlier pointed to the latest contradiction to surface over the case of MH370 — the revelation that the final transmission from the cockpit was “Good night, Malaysian 370” instead of the earlier circulated “Alright, good night”— and said it “confirms the issue of incompetence and a reluctance to be transparent.”

Malaysia has resisted previous suggestions for it to apologise over how it conducted the MH370 search, with acting Transport Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein saying it would not hesitate to do so if investigations showed the country to be at fault.

Ire among Chinese citizens over the way Malaysia has led search efforts for the MAS plane gradually grew as days went on without any sign of the plane.

A series of apparent contradictions early on during the plane’s disappearance led China to accuse Malaysia of being opaque with information.

Chinese anger came to a head when Malaysia announced on March 24 that analysis of satellite data concluded that the flight “ended somewhere in the middle of the Indian Ocean,” which the families rejected in the absence of physical evidence.

On Sunday, several families of Chinese passengers of MH370 arrived in Kuala Lumpur from Beijing, and held a press conference to denounce Malaysia’s handling of the search for the plane.

Some held aloft banners that read in Chinese and English: “You must return relatives of MH370, no strings attached” and “Hand us the murderer”.

The fallout over the MH370 crisis has already forced Malaysia to discontinue efforts to promote Visit Malaysia Year to China.

It had also been expected to sully China-Malaysia ties on the 40th anniversary of their diplomatic relations.

But China’s Ambassador to Malaysia Dr Huang Huikang on Wednesday moved to ease concern in Malaysia over Beijing’s perceived unhappiness, giving Putrajaya his country’s assurance of continued balmy relations.

MH370 went missing shortly after departing Kuala Lumpur International Airport for Beijing on March 8 and remains missing despite an international search involving over two dozen countries.

Search is now concentrated in an area 2,000km west of Perth, Australia where a race against time is currently on to locate the plane’s “black boxes” before their transmitter beacons run out of power around April 8.