KUALA LUMPUR: Transport Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein denied allegations that the hunt for a missing jet was in disarray, after the search veered far from its planned route and several countries were reported to be angry over the “mishandling” of the operation.
Vietnam, whose southern coast had been the focus of the recovery effort, initially suspended its air and sea search as it waited for Malaysia to clarify the new direction of the hunt.
“We’ve decided to temporarily suspend some search and rescue activities pending information from Malaysia,” deputy minister of transport Pham Quy Tieu said, adding that boats were still searching the area, but on a smaller scale.
Army deputy chief of staff Vo Van Tuan said later that “we decided to send two aircraft and nine boats to search”.
China said conflicting information about its course was “pretty chaotic”.
Asked about reports that flight MH370 could have veered well off course, as far as the Malacca Strait, China’s foreign ministry spokesman Qin Gang told reporters: “We noticed that the Malaysian side later denied this piece of information.
“So right now, there is a lot of information, and it’s pretty chaotic, so up to this point we too have had difficulty confirming whether it is accurate or not.”
Hishammuddin, however, dismissed allegations that search efforts were mired in confusion after a series of false alarms, rumours and contradictory statements.
He said Malaysia would “never give up hope” of finding the plane’s 239 passengers and crew.
“It’s far from it. It’s only confusion if you want it to be seen as confusion,” he told a press conference yesterday. “I think it’s not a matter of chaos. There is a lot of speculation that we have answered in the last few days.”
Malaysian air force chief General Rodzali Daud attempted to explain why the search zone had been expanded, saying that military radar had detected an unidentified plane early on Saturday north of the straits of Malacca.
He said they had “plotted” the plane but were not able to confirm it was MH370.
The confusion has fuelled perception that Malaysian authorities are unable to handle a crisis on this scale.