Man of the hour: Azharuddin answering questions from journalists from various media on the missing plane.
SEPANG: While the world’s attention is transfixed on the search for the Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, all eyes and ears are also centred on Department of Civil Aviation (DCA) director-general Datuk Azharuddin Abdul Rahman, who is in charge of one of the largest search and rescue (SAR) operations for a missing airliner in many years.
He was the DCA’s airworthiness director who investigated several cases of aircraft accidents in Malaysia. But this is the first time global focus is on him.
“It is a challenge beyond words. I am always on the phone with authorities from other countries to exchange information.
“There are a lot of (SAR) activities going on in many areas. All must be reported to me,” he said in an interview.
The 56-year-old Temerloh-born engineer, who has led the DCA since 2008, came out strongly against accusations that he was withholding information.
He said updated and verified information was vital for him to plan the next course of action.
“I just cannot announce something without confirming the details with the other authorities. There have been many unverified reports which were later found to be untrue.
“Imagine the consequences if I just picked up these unverified reports and told the whole world about it,” he added.
“The entire world, especially the relatives of the aircraft’s passengers are hanging on to every word I say.
“We are now dealing with an aircraft which has disappeared with many people on board and I’m determined to find out why,” he said.
Journalists covering Azharuddin’s press conference at Sama-Sama Hotel, where the MH370 operations and media centre have been set up, praised his efforts in providing information despite the difficult situation.
The Star’s Putrajaya bureau chief Zuhrin Ahzam Ahmad described Azharuddin as “extremely calm”.
“I’m here for his daily press conferences and he answers questions very carefully. There are many times that he never refers to his notes during the briefings,” he added.
AFP Kuala Lumpur correspondent Shannon Teoh said that Azharuddin seemed to be able to handle the pressure and was well-briefed about the frantic search for the Boeing 777.
Astro Awani broadcast journalist Tan Su Lin said that despite being grilled by the media, Azharuddin did not try to avoid the horde of reporters during the long wait for updates.