KUALA LUMPUR, March 18 — Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim confirmed having family ties with Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah today, saying the MH370 pilot is related to his daughter-in-law.
“Yes he is related to my daughter-in-law,” Anwar told a press conference in Parliament here when asked to comment on the matter first raised by Umno Youth leader and blogger Tun Faisal Ismail Aziz.
But despite admitting the link, Anwar, suddenly in the limelight when investigators began digging deeper into the pilot’s background, urged the media to refrain from casting aspersions on Zaharie’s character while investigations are still ongoing.
The leader also dismissed talk that Zaharie’s political affiliation and now, family ties with him, had anything to do with MH370’s disappearance.
“Ninety per cent of taxi drivers out there are our supporters but they don’t go and hijack the cabs,” he said.
Tun Faisal had claimed the PKR leadership is lying about its links to Zaharie following a report by English daily The Star, which quoted Anwar’s wife Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail as saying that her husband has no links to Zaharie beyond party affiliation.
Quoting TV3 journalist Mazidul Akmal, the Umno Youth leader in his blog posting claimed Zaharie is the uncle of Anwar’s daughter-in-law.
The opposition leader charged that his ties with Zaharie were intentionally raised by his political rivals to implicate him in the MH370 crisis.
“Now they have added on that my daughter-in-law has family relations to Zaharie and it is being spread by Umno bloggers.
“I do not deny that I have met him during PKR functions and he also knows (PKR MP) Sivarasa, but to try and politicise it… I regret the actions of some Umno factions,” he said.
The investigative spotlight has focused on Zaharie and his co-pilot, Fariq Abdul Hamid, since it became clear that the plane was deliberately diverted from its intended flight path to Beijing by someone on board.
Multiple media reports have noted Zaharie, 53, was an active member of Anwar’s PKR, and some have suggested he might have sabotaged the flight as an act of political revenge.
In a highly controversial case, Anwar was convicted of sodomy ― illegal in Muslim Malaysia ― just hours before MH370 took off.
* A previous version of this article erroneously stated Captain Zaharie as the uncle of Anwar’s daughter-in-law. The report has since been corrected and any inconvenience is regretted.