MH370 pilot Zaharie's family seeks 'refuge'

PETALING JAYA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - The family of MH370 pilot Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah has sought refuge away from their own home in a bid to ride out the "storm of speculation" against him.

"Zaharie's family prefers to ride out the storm than talk. For now, they know who their real friends are," said a close family friend who requested anonymity.

According to the friend, the decision of Mr Zaharie's wife and children to go into "hiding" was to avoid being hounded by the media, like what happened to the family of co-pilot Fariq Abdul Hamid where a local TV station stationed themselves in front of the house.

"At a time of anxiety like this, the family members want to rally together for emotional support, not fend off questions from the media," she said.

Except for an initial interview with his grandnephew, a YouTube tribute for the pilot and an outpouring online support for his daughter Aisyah, nothing else has been said.

The friend said the family had been very co-operative with the requests made by the authorities, as they had nothing to hide.

Although some relatives felt Mr Zaharie's family should come out publicly to clear speculations that portrayed him as a political activist, they knew they should respect their desire for privacy, she said.

His relatives also stressed that Mr Zaharie was no extremist, unlike what was alleged about him in the media.

No amount of speculations could convince them that he might have done something to cause MH370 to go missing, they said.

He had also been in touch regularly with Ms Aisyah who has completed postgraduate studies in architecture in Melbourne, Australia.

Ms Aisyah had told a friend in Australia before returning to Kuala Lumpur that "all the speculation is killing the family".

Ms Aisyah has taken time off from her work to be with the family who are staying in a different location from their home in Shah Alam.

As for family members of Mr Fariq, the 27-year-old first officer, they said they would not grant press interviews until the aircraft was found.

Mr Fariq's brother, Afiq Abdul Hamid has been counting the hours and days since the plane vanished on March 8.

"It's been a week. Still waiting," he posted on Twitter last week about the agonising wait.