Malaysia replaces key MH370 minister

Malaysia’s prime minister has appointed a new transport minister to replace Hishammuddin Hussein, who was in charge during the search for missing flight MH370.


Hishammuddin, who is also defence minister, provisionally held the transport portfolio after the post was left vacant following elections a year ago.

He led the nation’s search effort for the Malaysia Airlines plane that vanished on March 8 with 239 people aboard.

Prime Minister Najib Razak said on Wednesday that Liow Tiong Lai, a former health minister and president of the Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA), would become transport minister.

The post has usually been held by the ruling coalition’s main Chinese party but MCA refused to accept any cabinet posts after its poor electoral performance sparked anger over perceived discrimination by the ethnic Malay-dominated coalition.

Najib’s Barisan Nasional (National Front) coalition, which has ruled the country since independence in 1957, was re-elected in May last year despite losing the popular vote for the first time.

MCA delegates reversed the decision not to accept posts earlier this year.

Flight MH370 went missing en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing and is believed to have crashed in the southern Indian Ocean.

But an extensive search off Western Australia has so far failed to turn up any wreckage.

Angry relatives of those aboard have accused Malaysia’s national carrier and the government of doing too little and of hiding information.

The government has rejected such accusations, and Najib has supported Hishammuddin, his cousin, in his handling of the crisis.