KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian official Azharuddin Abdul Rahman, who headed the country's aviation authority when flight MH370 went missing, resigned as chairman of the Civil Aviation Authority of Malaysia on Tuesday (Jul 31), more than four years after the disaster.
Azharuddin, who was the head of the then-Department of Civil Aviation (DCA), has stepped down "to take responsibility" following the release of a full report into the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 on Monday, the country's transport minister Anthony Loke told reporters.
Speaking after the report was tabled in parliament on Tuesday, Loke said there were air traffic control lapses on Mar 8, 2014 when the plane carrying 239 veered off its course minutes after it took off from Kuala Lumpur for Beijing.
"What’s obvious was the standard operating procedures were not followed; there are still air traffic controllers who were on duty that (are) still working, we are probing," he told reporters.
READ: MH370 report: Investigators point to manipulation of plane controls rather than mechanical failure
In a statement on Tuesday, Azharuddin said he had decided to resign after "much thought and contemplation".
"It is with regret and after much thought and contemplation that I have decided to resign as the CAAM (Civil Aviation Authority of Malaysia) chairman effective 14 days from the date of the resignation notice which I served today," he said in a statement.
Azharuddin said that over the past four years he had tried his level best to assist in the search for the ill-fated flight MH370.
"I am ever resolute in finding answers we all seek towards this unfortunate tragedy as we owe it to the families and loved ones," he said. "I am saddened to have to leave under these circumstances."
"Serving this industry for more than 40 years has been the greatest honour of my life and I apologise for not being able to fulfil the remainder of my tenure," he added.
"Aviation has been a core part of my life since childhood and it will remain for the rest of my life."
The long-awaited official report into the disappearance of the plane said that the Boeing 777's controls were more likely to have been manipulated than to have suffered mechanical issues.
Investigators were, however, unable to determine who was responsible due to the lack of evidence.
However, the report criticised Malaysian and Vietnamese air traffic control, saying both failed to act properly when the Boeing jet passed from Malaysian to Vietnamese airspace and disappeared from radars.
Air traffic controllers did not initiate emergency procedures in a timely fashion, delaying the start of the search and rescue operation, it said.
APPROPRIATE ACTION WILL BE TAKEN: LOKE
While some air traffic control officers have retired, others are still working for the Civil Aviation Authority of Malaysia, formed after DCA was dissolved.
This has created some complications, said Loke, but he gave his assurance that appropriate action would be taken once investigations were completed.
Addressing the grievances voiced by some of the passengers' next-of-kin on not getting answers from authorities, he said that until the plane was found, no one actually knows what really happened.
"Although the report says it’s final, that’s according to Annex 13 ICAO requirement. In actual fact, how can it be final when the plane has yet (to be) found?" he said.
However, the minister gave his assurance that the authorities would resume the search if new, credible evidence was to surface.
A task force has been set up to look into any wrongdoing. Appropriate action will be taken pending the outcome of the probe, said the transport minister.
Most of the passengers on board Flight MH370 had been Chinese nationals. Their next-of-kin will be briefed on Aug 3, he added.