Five proposals received for ailing Malaysia Airlines: Mahathir

Malaysia has received five proposals for its debt-laden national carrier Malaysia Airlines, Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamed said at a group media briefing on Monday (Jan 20).

“There are about 5 proposals but of course some of them are just no go,” Dr Mahathir said, without giving more details.

“We need to listen to everybody to find out what is the best solution.”

The Malaysian government has been seeking a strategic partner for the financially struggling airline, which is still recovering from two tragedies in 2014, when flight MH370 disappeared in what remains a mystery and flight MH17 was shot down over eastern Ukraine.

Taken private by sovereign wealth fund Khazanah Nasional in 2014, the national carrier has been struggling to post a profit.

MH17: Mahathir clears Russia, says insufficient evidence

Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad has said there is insufficient evidence linking Russia for the 2014 downing of commercial Malaysia Airlines flight MH17.

The premier said findings by the multinational Dutch-led Joint Investigative Team (JIT) fingering Russia for the downing did not seem "quite right".

"Yes, that (Russia's guilt)] is our doubt. But I do not have any relatives that were killed there. I do not have any rights to any insurance claims. I am seeing this as an observer from the outside, and some of the findings made [by JIT] did not sound to me and many people in Malaysia as being quite right.

“[…] I am not doubting their (JIT’s) truthfulness. But there are certain things that they claim - it is difficult for us to accept… Identifying the missile - yes. The area where it happened – that can be verified.

"But identifying the actual firing, by whom (it was performed), that would be very difficult in the usual circumstances" Mahathir was quoted saying in the interview.

Flight MH17, which was travelling from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, was struck down by an anti-aircraft missile on July 17, 2014, as it flew over Ukraine, killing all 283 passengers and 15 crew members on board.

This is not the first time Mahathir had cast doubt over the findings of the JIT.

In June, he expressed scepticism as to Russia culpability and said the matter had been turned into a political matter on “how to accuse Russia of wrongdoing” from the start.

"I wouldn't think a politician would be stupid to act like that, so I don't think it's true at all,” he had said.

The prime minister denied his defense of Russia was influenced by trade relations between the two countries. Mahathir is in Russia on a three-day visit and is participating in the Eastern Economic Forum (EEF) in Vladivostok.

MH17 relatives ask Malaysian PM to "stop spreading doubts and divisions"

The relatives of people killed in the MH17 disaster wrote a letter to Malaysian! Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad on Thursday, asking him to "stop spreading doubts and divisions" and to stop making statements that are "contrary to the truth", NU.nl reports.

In June the Joint Investigation Team (JIT), which consists of investigators from the Netherlands, Australia, Ukraine, Belgium and Malaysia, announced that four suspects will be prosecuted for involvement in the downing of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 over eastern Ukraine on 17 July 2014. All 298 people on board the plane were killed, including 196 Dutch. The suspects are three Russians and a Ukrainian. The plane was shot down by a BUK missile system from the Russian armed forces, which was fired from a field under the control of pro-Russian separatists at the time, according the JIT. 

After the JIT's announcement, Mohamad dismissed the investigators' findings as "nothing more than hearsay" and said that the investigation into the disaster "has become a political case in which Russia is the scapegoat". He also demanded to see evidence.

Two weeks ago, during a congress in the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur, photos of the MH17 disaster were shown. Circles were drawn over these photos with the text 'This could never have been caused by a BUK missile", according to AD.

People who attended the conference - organized by the Perdan Global Peace Foundation, of which Mohamad is the chairman - want the trial against the suspects suspended, according to foundation Vliegramp MH17.

In the letter Vliegramp MH17, the foundation that supports the relatives of MH17 victims, pointed out to Mohamad that Malaysia supported the JIT in the past and that he is harming the investigation with his divisive statements. 

Mohamad is the oldest government leader in the world at age 94, according to NU.nl. He ruled in Malaysia between 1981 and 2003, and returned in 2018 after the then prime minister had to resign due to a corruption scandal.