KUALA LUMPUR, April 11 ― DAP’s Lim Kit Siang insisted again today on the formation of a parliamentary select committee on the MH370 crisis, this time demanding that the federal opposition Pakatan Rakyat (PR) pact lead the panel.
The senior politician said the latest round of contradictions in the missing jetliner case involving claims that Malaysia had sent military jets after MH370 when it disappeared had further fuelled doubts on the government’s readiness to be fully transparent in its handling of the crisis.
“For these reasons, I would call on the Prime Minister to honour his word that Malaysia has nothing to hide by honouring two broken promises so far ― an authoritative briefing to Pakatan Rakyat MPs on the MH370 tragedy and the establishment of an Opposition-headed Parliamentary Select Committee on MH 370 ,” he told reporters here at the DAP headquarters.
Late yesterday, Defence Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein denied on Twitter that Malaysia had deployed military aircraft to chase down Flight MH370 after the Beijing-bound passenger plane went off civilian radars on March 8.
The denial was first tweeted by Hishammuddin's communications team late last night, in response to a news report broadcast on US network CNN that cited an unnamed senior government official saying Royal Malaysian Air Force fighter (RMAF) jets were scrambled at about 8am on March 8, shortly after the Malaysia Airlines was reported missing.
“Latest from @CNN claiming that Msian Air Force aircraft scrambled soon after @MAS reported #MH370 missing early 8/3 is a false allegation,” Hishammuddin's communication team posted on its official Twitter account, @H2OComms) at 10.29 pm.
Hishammuddin, who is also acting transport minister and has been the country's official face in charge of the search, later retweeted the message on his official Twitter account, @HishammuddinH2O.
In a news programme yesterday, CNN cited an unnamed senior government official involved in the search for MH370 saying RMAF had mounted a hunt even before authorities were able to corroborate the Boeing 777-200ER had made a turn back over the Malay Peninsula.
According to the source, RMAF had only informed the Department of Civil Aviation of this deployment three days later, on March 11.
CNN also reported the source relaying that the final message from MH370 to air traffic controllers, “Good night, Malaysian three-seven-zero” was uttered by pilot, Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah, and not co-pilot Fariq Abdul Hamid as previously reported.
Lim said most people would not be convinced by the CNN report unless the US broadcaster was willing to divulge the identity of the senior Malaysian government official.
But the DAP parliamentary leader also said a mere denial of the CNN report was insufficient and unacceptable, more so after the confusing contradictions to statements put out by the government on the missing plane.
The Gelang Patah MP claimed that a parliamentary pan headed by the opposition would have helped provide better credibility to the government’s denial.