By Greg Wood, AFP
PERTH, Australia — A U.S. Navy “black box” detector made its much-anticipated debut in the oceanic hunt for flight MH370 on Friday but Australia’s search chief warned it was crunch time with the box’s signal set to expire soon. As the extensive search wore on, Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim said he believed the country’s long-ruling regime was concealing information on the crisis, saying “the government knows more than us.” The Australian naval vessel Ocean Shield arrived with a “towed pinger locator” capable of homing in on signals from the black box, as 14 planes scoured the remote Indian Ocean search area for signs of a crash site. Anwar said he was “baffled” by the Malaysian military’s failure despite detecting the plane crossing back over the country’s airspace following its mysterious detour. “Unfortunately the manner in which this was handled after the first few days was clearly suspect,” Anwar said in an interview with Britain’s Daily Telegraph.
“Clearly information critical to our understanding is deemed missing. I believe the government knows more than us,” he added, without elaborating. Malaysia ‘wasted time’ Anwar, who recently had his acquittal on sodomy charges overturned in what he claims is a political smear by the government, said a “sophisticated” radar system that he authorized as finance minister in 1994 should have led to prompt military action. Malaysia’s armed forces said soon after the plane disappeared that military radar had picked up an unidentified object moving toward the Indian Ocean, but did nothing because it was not deemed “hostile.” The decision has been criticized for losing valuable time tracking MH370. It took Malaysia one week to confirm the radar blip was MH370. Anwar said Malaysia should have moved quickly to save other countries scouring “a place that they know cannot be the site of the plane.” A Malaysian government spokesman responded, saying: “Anwar has made numerous unfounded allegations criticizing Malaysia.” “Instead of trying to exploit the MH370 tragedy to score political points, it would be constructive if he could support the government as it coordinates the multinational search operation for MH370.”