SEPANG - "Are you the cousin of Prime Minister Najib? Are you protected?"
This question by a French journalist stumped acting Transport Minister Datuk Seri Hishamuddin Hussein (pic) who has been facing many tough question during the media conference on the missing MH370 plane.
Bemused by the question, Hishammuddin asked her which media organisation she was from before answering.
"Yes I can confirm that Najib is my cousin and I do not know what am I supposed to be protected from," said the bewildered Hishamuddin, who is also Defence Minister.
Journalists at the Sama Sama Hotel media conference burst out laughing over her questions and his answers.
Since the Boeing 777-200 disappeared on March 8, Hishammuddin has eloquently dealt with numerous tough questions from the media in a calm and composed manner.
Many praised the 52-year-old Minister for his handling of the crisis and his ability to diligently answer questions.
Confirmation that a missing Malaysian airliner was deliberately diverted suggests several scenarios that will sharpen scrutiny of the cockpit crew and passengers known to have boarded with stolen passports.
Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said on Saturday that the movements of the missing plane were consistent with a deliberate act by someone who turned the jet back across Malaysia and onwards to the west.
"These movements are consistent with deliberate action by someone on the plane," he said, adding that investigators had consequently "refocused their investigation into crew and passengers on board."
Department of Civil Aviation (DCA) Director General Datuk Azharuddin Abdul Rahman speaks at the news conference.
Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak (C) talks to Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein (2nd L) after addressing reporters about the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370
Malaysia's acting Transport Minister Hishammuddin Tun Hussein (C) speaks during a news conference about the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, at Kuala Lumpur International Airport March 13, 2014.
Department of Civil Aviation (DCA) Director General Datuk Azharuddin Abdul Rahman, Malaysia's Transport and Defence Minister Hishamuddin Hussein, and Malaysian Airlines Chief Executive Officer Ahmad Jauhari Yahya, listen to a question from the media during a news conference
A news conference at a hotel near Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Sepang on March 13, 2014.
Malaysia's Acting Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said Wednesday that there was no chaos in Malaysia's handling of the search for the missing Malaysia Airlines jetliner.
The search for the missing Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 jetliner expanded on Wednesday to cover a swathe of Southeast Asia, from the South China Sea to India's territorial waters, with authorities no closer to explaining what happened to the plane or the 239 people on board.
He said Prime Minister Najib Razak had announced on Saturday itself that the search operations would be expanded to the west of Peninsular Malaysia after a review of the military radar showed that the flight MH370 may have tried to turn back.
Mr Hishammuddin said this was done even while the military radar findings were still being analysed by experts and corroborated with radars of neighbouring countries.
The Armed Forces chief Zulkefli Zin said although they were not sure what that blip on the military radar meant, they still sent ships and aircraft to scour the Straits of Malacca.
Malaysia has been harshly criticised for the contradictory information and lack of coordination that had caused confusion, leaving it unclear whether it was searching for the missing plane in the right place.
It clarified on Wednesday that it was searching in both east and west of Peninsular Malaysia due to the uncertain nature of the information available.
Malaysia's acting Transport Minister Hishammuddin Tun Hussein answers questions between Chief of Armed Forces General Zulkifeli Mohd Zin (L) and Department of Civil Aviation's Director General Azharuddin Abdul Rahmanthe (R) on the missing Malaysia Airlines MH370 plane during a news conference at Kuala Lumpur International Airport March 12, 2014.
The Acting Transport Minister said that search and rescue efforts for the missing Malaysia Airlines flight are now focused on two bodies of water - the South China Sea and the Strait of Malacca.
Malaysia's air force chief, Rodzali Daud, said military radar had a spotted a "plot" 200 miles north-west of the island of Penang at around 2.15am on Saturday but it could not confirm if that was the missing MH370.
Speaking at a press conference on Wednesday afternoon, Mr Hishamuddin said the search area has been extended to 27,000 square nautical miles. There are also now some 42 ships and 39 aircraft involved in the operations, he added.
"We have, till today, not found anything," Mr Hishamuddin said. He added that more experts will be brought in to look at the flight data.
Responding mounting criticism on the search efforts, Mr Hishammuddin said there was no "confusion". "I don’t think so. It’s far from it. It’s only confusion if you want it to be seen as confusion," he said.