KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysia's home minister on Wednesday said the "Chinese-language papers" were to blame for rousing Chinese anger towards the authorities over the search for missing flight MH370.
Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said in Parliament that it was the sensational reports in Chinese-language newspapers that led to widespread resentment against the Malaysian government in China.
"The writings of most of these Chinese-language papers have played on sentiments and have fuelled the anger of relatives of the passengers from China who were on board MH370," Dr Zahid was quoted as saying by news website Malay Mail Online.
He did not specify if he was referring to reports in Chinese-language newspapers in Malaysia or China.
"The prime minister and acting transport minister have tried their best to resolve this but, unfortunately, the papers have manipulated this and played up the sentiments until the families, especially those from Beijing, are upset," Dr Zahid was quoted as saying by Malaysian Insider.
Families of the 153 Chinese nationals on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 have been quick to accuse the Malaysian government and the national carrier of incompetency since the crisis unfolded on March 8.
Many lambasted the Malaysian government for not acting fast enough in their search for the missing plane. But when Malaysia Prime Minister Najib Razak confirmed on Monday that the plane had crashed in the southern Indian Ocean, family members in China accused him of jumping to a conclusion too quickly, even as the search for physical evidence was still ongoing.
Hundreds of Chinese family members on Tuesday staged a protest in front of the Malaysia embassy in Beijing. The hostility continued on Wednesday, as they fired tough questions at a high-level team from Malaysia at a briefing in Beijing, with some calling the Malaysian delegates "murderers".
Some prominent Chinese celebrities like Zhang Ziyi and her boyfriend Wang Feng have also criticised the Malaysian government on Sina Weibo, the Twitter-like microblogs widely used in China. Mr Ju Kun, a stunt double of international star Jet Li who has also worked with Ms Zhang on the set of action flick The Grandmaster, was one of the passengers aboard MH370.