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better I know my father

Son of missing flight's pilot breaks silence, dismisses speculation

The family of missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 pilot Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah has finally broken the silence over allegations against him.

The youngest son, language student Ahmad Seth, 26, told The New Straits Times said ever since the plane disappeared on March 8, he has been reading up on news reports concerning the flight and his father, as well as the speculation surrounding the incident.

Investigators have been looking into whether the captain and his co-pilot Fariq Abdul Hamid, 27, had any role in the disaster.

They took away a flight simulator from Captain Zaharie's home but failed to find anything incriminating in it.

Mr Seth said he was aware of the wild theories that his father, 53, was a political fanatic and that he may have hijacked the plane.

IGNORED

But he was quick to dismiss the allegation, saying he knew what kind of a man his father was.

He said: "I've read everything online. But I've ignored all the speculation. I know my father better.

"We may not be as close as he travels so much. But I understand him."

Mr Seth appeared calm and composed during the interview and did not reveal any resentment against those who portrayed his father as a hijacker.

His mother Faizah Khanum Mustafa Khan and older siblings Mr Ahmad Idris and Miss Aishah have thus far not spoken to the press.

A visibly tired Mr Seth said he was not surprised by Prime Minister Najib Razak's announcement on Monday when he said that the plane went down somewhere near the southern Indian Ocean.

In a resigned tone, he said he expected the outcome after having waited for so long for news on the aircraft and its 239 occupants.

But he has yet to give up all hope.

He said calmly: "Now, we are just waiting for the right confirmation (for the wreckage or bodies). I will believe it (that there are no survivors) when I see the proof in front of my eyes."

His friends, he said, had been a pillar of strength and have been with him to show their support and encouragement.

Mr Seth reluctantly admitted that he is the strongest in his family in dealing with the crisis, but did not elaborate on how other family members were coping.

The Malaysian police have already questioned the family members of the pilots and other crew, AFP reported.

Meanwhile, the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) will complete its analysis of data deleted from the flight simulator "within a day or two", its director said in Washington on Wednesday.

Malaysian officials had asked the FBI to help recover files deleted from the simulator's hard drive.

Hard to do last rites for victims

Malaysia has said that all 239 people who were on flight MH370 are believed dead, but the failure to recover bodies is complicating efforts to lay their souls to rest, relatives and religious leaders said yesterday.

The plane had passengers from around the world following a number of major religions, and the failure to achieve closure via last rites has added to the anguish of grieving relatives.

Hindus traditionally perform special prayers on the first, 16th and 30th day after a person's death.

"I will not do any solemn prayers until I am really convinced my son is dead," said Mr Subramaniam Gurusamy, 60, a Hindu whose son was on the plane.

"How can we say everyone is dead when we have not found the plane or the black box?" he added, referring to the onboard flight data that is being sought for clues to what happened.

DIFFERENT RITES

Mr Jamil Khir Baharom, minister in charge of Islamic affairs, was quoted by local media as saying that Muslims aboard MH370 were still seen as "missing", and that proper funeral rites cannot be performed until the search is called off.

Hindus were being advised, however, to "accept fate" and go ahead with their prayers, said Mr Mohan Shan, president of Malaysia Hindu Sangam, the country's main advisory body on Hindu worship, AFP reported.

Usually in a deadly accident, Taoists must perform funeral rites at the site where the death occurred, said Mr Tan Hoe Chieow, president of the Federation of Taoist Associations Malaysia.

But he said due to the unprecedented nature of MH370, families could go ahead with such ceremonies elsewhere, perhaps in their homes.

Christians also could lay their loved ones to rest without a body if they are convinced they died, said Reverend Wong Kim Kong, a Christian community leader.

He said: "They should not be discouraged but acknowledge the fact that their loved ones are in a better place, that is, heaven."

Thai satellite detects 300 floating objects

Thai satellite images have shown 300 floating objects in the southern Indian Ocean during a search for the missing airliner, an official said yesterday.

The objects, ranging from 2m to 15m in size, were scattered over an area about 2,700km south-west of Perth, according to the Geo-Informatics and Space Technology Development Agency.

The official said the objects were spotted about 200km away from an area where French satellite images earlier showed potential objects in the search for the plane. "But we cannot - dare not - confirm they are debris from the plane," the agency's executive director, Mr Anond Snidvongs, told AFP.

The pictures were taken by Thailand's only earth observation satellite on Monday, but needed several days to process, Mr Snidvongs added.