The youth leader of a Malaysian opposition party has claimed the MH17 tragedy was God punishing Malaysia Airlines for serving alcohol on its flights and its “indecent” dress code.
Ahmad Tarmizi Sulaiman, the youth information chief of the opposition Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS), said the serving of alcohol, which is prohibited under Islam, and the dress code of Malaysia Airlines flight attendants’ “cross the boundaries of Islam.”
But as predominantly Malaysia mourns the loss of its second Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 in months, other politicians condemned the remarks as the country’s 222 MPs put aside their political differences while prime minister Najib Razak moved a condolence motion in an emergency session of Parliament.
Mr Tarmizi was quoted in Malaysia’s media as saying majority state-owned Malaysia Airlines was ignoring the tenets of Islam.
“If the government wishes to introspect and to garner the blessings of Allah, what is wrong in conducting a study on the percentage of passengers who would not fly MAS if alcohol is not served and its flight attendants observe Muslim dress code?,” he said.
PAS enjoys strong support in Malaysia’s northern and rural conservative states.
But former minister Wee Ka Siong described the remarks ridiculous and insensitive and a selfish attempt to use people’s anguish for political benefit.
“The nation is facing many daunting challenges over this disaster but instead of lending their support to the government and the people they have decided to continue making nonsensical statements,” said Mr Wee who is deputy president of the Malaysian Chinese Association.
MPs from all major parties have praised Mr Najib for secretly negotiating an agreement with pro-Russian separatists for the return of bodies from MH17.
Forty three Malaysians were killed.
The separatists also agreed to hand the plane’s black box recording devices to Malaysian officials and allow safe passage for investigators and recovery teams to go to the crash site near the Russian border in eastern Ukraine.
Mr Najib’s motion demands that “those believed to be responsible for this crime against humanity, through the shooting down of MH17, are immediately brought to justice.”
The motion also demands that a “comprehensive investigation be undertaken by an international independent body into the crash and calls on all parties to co-operate to ensure that the investigation is completed as soon as possible.” — SMH