Last updated Sunday, November 23, 2014 06:35pm

Ibrahim Mat Zin (third left), a local well-known 'bomoh' (the Malay term for a shaman), arrives to perform a ritual to help finding the missing Malaysia Airlines MH370 at Kuala Lumpur International Airport March 12, 2014. — Reuters picIbrahim Mat Zin (third left), a local well-known 'bomoh' (the Malay term for a shaman), arrives to perform a ritual to help finding the missing Malaysia Airlines MH370 at Kuala Lumpur International Airport March 12, 2014. — Reuters pic

 

KUALA LUMPUR, March 13 — Malaysia’s allegedly chaotic management of the missing plane crisis could not have been manifested better than the “bomoh” (witch doctor) incident that has left the country red-faced, Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim said today.

From the conflicting statements by top officials to the comical scene of three witch doctors performing rituals to locate the MH370 flight that vanished early Saturday morning, Anwar said the government’s handling of the disaster has turned Malaysia into the world’s laughing stock.

“All the contradicting statements, our slow response. Our credibility and image have been shattered, destroyed. We are not only criticised by the NYT (New York Times) but ASEAN leaders are also condemning us.

“Like the bomoh incident. Who allowed them (to perform the rituals) there? Can’t you see how stupid we look in the eyes of the world?” Anwar said in his speech during the thank you motion on the King’s address in Parliament here.

The three witch doctors, led by one Ibrahim Mat Zin who professes to be “raja bomoh” or the king of the witch doctors, performed rituals to “locate” the missing Beijing-bound Boeing 777 jet at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) in the presence of local and international media on Monday.

The event drew immediate ridicule from observers as well as Internet users who took to social media sites like Twitter and Facebook to deride the witch doctors, with some posting spoof pictures of them sitting on a supposed flying carpet that have gone viral, as well as the government for allowing the three to conduct the rituals there.

Ibrahim claimed the jet carrying 239 people including 12 crew members had travelled into the “alam bunian”, a Malay description for a spiritual realm inhabited by supernatural beings.

“This incident has even caught the attention of President Obama who was amazed at how stupid we are,” Anwar’s PKR colleague and Pandan MP Rafizi Ramli said while the former took the floor in the Dewan Rakyat.

In the Gallery


  • Malaysia's acting Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein answers questions during a news conference about the missing Malaysia Airlines MH370 plane at Kuala Lumpur International Airport March 12, 2014. ― Reuters pic

  • Indian sand artist Sudarshan Pattnaik works on a sand sculpture of missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370, at golden beach at Puri in the eastern Indian state of Odisha March 12, 2014. ― Reuters pic

  • A tribute to the passengers and crew onboard the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 is seen inside a Buddhist temple in Kuala Lumpur March 12, 2014. ― Reuters pic

  • Vietnamese Navy's Deputy Commander Rear Admiral Le Minh Thanh (R) points at a map to show the area where Vietnam is conducting search activities for the missing Malaysia Airlines flight 370 in Phu Quoc island on March 12, 2014. ― AFP pic

  • This handout photograph released by the Indonesian Air Force shows Indonesian Air Force personnel aboard an Indonesian Air Force military surveillance aircraft on March 11 over the Straits of Malacca, a passageway between Indonesia and Malaysia, searching for the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 March 12, 2014. ― AFP pic

  • Buddhist monks pray during an interfaith prayer called "Hope" for the passengers and crew of the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, at a Buddhist temple in Kuala Lumpur March 12, 2014. ― Reuters pic

  • A family member of Uighur passenger Maimaitijiang Abula, who had been aboard Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, walks surrounded by members of the media outside a hotel in Beijing, March 12, 2014. ― Reuters pic

  • People stand on the Bund across from illuminated buildings, on one of which is seen the flight number MH370 of the Malaysia Airlines plane that has been missing since Saturday, in Shanghai, March 12, 2014. ― Reuters pic

  • Police officers with a dog walk past passengers at Beijing International Airport days after the Beijing-bound Malaysian jetliner MH 370 went missing, March 13, 2014. ― Reuters pic

  • Search area is seen on an iPad of a military officer onboard a Vietnam Air Force AN-26 aircraft, during a mission to find the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, off Con Dao island, March 13, 2014. ― Reuters pic

  • Air Force Deputy Chief of Staff Senior Colonel Do Duc Minh sits in the cockpit of a Vietnam Air Force Casa 212 before take-off on a mission to find the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, at a military airport in Ho Chi Minh city March 13, 2014. ― Reuters pic

  • Malaysia's acting Transport Minister Hishammuddin Tun Hussein (C) speaks during a news conference about the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, at Kuala Lumpur International Airport March 13, 2014. — Picture by Choo Choo May

  • A military officer works on a map onboard a Royal Malaysian Air Force CN235 aircraft during a Search and Rescue (SAR) operation to find the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, in the Straits of Malacca March 13, 2014. — Reuters pic

  • A helicopter at Phu Quoc airport, where Vietnamese search and rescue operations are located. — Picture by Choo Choo May

  • Military ships at the naval base in Phu Quoc Island, Vietnam. — Picture by Choo Choo May

  • A helicopter at Phu Quoc airport, where Vietnamese search and rescue operations are located. — Picture by Choo Choo May

  • A plane at Phu Quoc airport, where Vietnamese search and rescue operations are located. — Picture by Choo Choo May

  • The air traffic control tower at Phu Quoc airport, where the Vietnamese authorities hold press conferences twice a day. — Picture by Choo Choo May

  • A crew member from the Royal Malaysian Air Force looks through the window of a Malaysian Air Force CN235 aircraft during a Search and Rescue (SAR) operation to find the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, in the Straits of Malacca March 13, 2014. — Reuters pic

  • Crew members from the Royal Malaysian Air Force prepare a Malaysian Air Force CN235 aircraft for a Search and Rescue (SAR) operation to find the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, in the Straits of Malacca March 13, 2014. — Reuters pic

  • Two girls writing their message at the viewing gallery in KLIA. — Picture by Choo Choo May

  • A woman writing her message at the viewing gallery in KLIA. — Picture by Choo Choo May

  • Muslim perform their maghrib prayers and Yasin recitation for MH370 at KLIA airport. — Picture by Choo Choo May

  • Muslim perform their maghrib prayers and Yasin recitation for MH370 at KLIA airport. — Picture by Choo Choo May

  • A child stands alongside other Muslims to perform their maghrib prayers and Yasin recitation for MH370 at KLIA airport. — Picture by Choo Choo May

  • Muslim perform their maghrib prayers and Yasin recitation for MH370 at KLIA airport. — Picture by Choo Choo May

The pictures purportedly of US President Barack Obama have since been brushed off as doctored.

Anwar today insisted that those responsible must be held accountable for humiliating Malaysia.

“There must be a full investigation into this event because it has humiliated us and tarnish our image,” he said.

Anwar later criticised the government’s handling of the crisis, pointing to allegations of slow response and a lack of information over search efforts.

He also said Malaysian officials were fumbling due to their complacency from dealing with a docile local media.