MH370: Official rebukes Dr Mahathir over conspiracy theory

Head of MH370 response team Azharuddin Abdul Rahman calls for all parties to think of MH370 next of kin first, before making any comments. (AFP pic)

PETALING JAYA: The head of the MH370 response team has criticised Dr Mahathir Mohamad for playing up a conspiracy theory on the disappearance of the Malaysia Airlines aircraft in 2014.

Azharuddin Abdul Rahman, who is also the director-general of the Department of Civil Aviation, said the former prime minister’s comments to an Australian newspaper, that MH370 could have been controlled by other parties in a “remote takeover”, was “inappropriate, and without any substantive and verified evidence”.

Mahathir told The Australian in an interview recently that the aircraft could have been taken over remotely in a bid to foil a hijack, reviving one of the many conspiracy theories surrounding its disappearance.

“Such allegations will certainly affect and cause distress to the next of kin and loved ones of those on board in this unprecedented national tragedy.

“Until and unless evidence from the wreckage and the flight recorders shed light on what happened, it is unbecoming for anyone to draw conclusions based on baseless conspiracy theories,” Azharuddin said in a sharp rebuke.

He added that such comments only serve to undermine the efforts of the expert team and professionals who have spent more than four years trying to find the aircraft.

The Boeing 777 disappeared on March 8, 2014 with 227 passengers and 12 crew on board, while en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.

A vast search of the southern Indian Ocean, led by the Australian Transport Safety Board (ATSB), ceased in January last year.

The search restarted two months ago in an area north of the original zone that scientists now believe is the likeliest crash site. A private research vessel is scouring the seabed, commissioned by Malaysia on a “no find, no fee” basis.

Azharuddin said that the government has spared no effort in its commitment to find the missing plane.

“The latest is the ongoing search by Ocean Infinity. The main objective in searching for the wreckage and the flight recorders is to find out the answers we seek as to why MH370 ended its flight in the southern Indian Ocean and bring closure for the families.”

He also called for all parties to always put the MH370 next of kin and loved ones ahead of any other thoughts they might have on the tragedy.

“We should put them and their feelings first and foremost and not cause them needless worries on the basis of wild speculations,” he said.

Dr M raises ‘remote takeover’ theory in MH370 mystery