KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 19 — The former chief of local aviation regulator Datuk Seri Azharuddin Abdul Rahman has questioned the motive of ex-Australian prime minister Tony Abbott for his revelation on the missing Flight MH370.
Azharuddin, who was the director-general for the Department of Civil Aviation (now Civil Aviation Authority of Malaysia), said by claiming that Putrajaya had told him that it was a murder-suicide, Abbott will only rekindle painful memories for the victims’ next-of-kin.
“The theory of mass murder-suicide was one of the theories but it has yet to be proven,” the chairman of the MH370 High-Level Technical Task Force was quoted saying by The Star.
“I met Abbott during the course of MH370 investigations but I have never confirmed such theories nor spoken to him personally.
“He claimed the top leadership in Malaysia then told him so — ask him who are those people are. I am surprised he is raising this theory now — for what purpose, I do not know,” he added.
Australia’s News Corp quoted Abbott as telling a documentary that the “highest levels” of Putrajaya allegedly told him within a week of its disappearance in 2014 that Malaysia Airlines pilot Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah was responsible.
He made the remark in the first part of the documentary titled MH370: The Untold Story by broadcaster Sky News Australia airing this week.
Abbott was the prime minister during the MH370 tragedy. Six Australians were among the passengers of the doomed flight.
Abbott’s Malaysian counterpart at that time was Datuk Seri Najib Razak, with Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai as his transport minister. Both were from Barisan Nasional, that was shockingly defeated by Pakatan Harapan in the 2018 general election amid accusations of graft and abuse of power.
Flight MH370 from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing disappeared on March 8, 2014 with all 239 people on board.
Underwater searches for the plane in the Indian Ocean have covered 120,000 square kilometres and cost about A$200 million was subsequently suspended indefinitely in January 2017 until Malaysia accepted a “no-cure, no-fee” offer from US exploration firm Ocean Infinity in 2018.
The three-month search covered 112,000 sq km north of the original target area, without any new discovery when it was called off in May 2018.
An official 495-page report in July 2018 stated that MH370 was deliberately taken off course by a person or persons unknown.