A day later, relatives called the ambassador a “liar” and a “rogue” during a meeting in Beijing.
The New Straits Times, a Malaysian government mouthpiece, said in an editorial on Thursday that “even abject misery cannot excuse the accusation of murder,” echoing similar commentaries in other Malaysian media.
Criticism from China is particularly rankling for the ruling United Malays National Organisation (UMNO), which champions the interests of multicultural Malaysia’s majority group, Muslim-ethnic Malays.
UMNO regularly stokes Malay resentment against the country’s sizable ethnic Chinese community, including reviving memories of an ethnic-Chinese communist insurgency in the 1950s.
Jahabar Sadiq, editor of the independent Web portal Malaysian Insider, called the Chinese criticism unfair, saying that Beijing, with its far greater air and sea capability, also has been unable to find the plane.
“The search for this missing plane has shown them the limits of their technology, their muscle. It puts China in its place,” he said. “It will take them some time before they get the same kind of respect as America, England or Australia would get.”
Malaysian social media sites have bristled with anger over the Chinese calls for more information-sharing.
“China demanding the full truth and complete transparency about the plane crash? How about they come clean about Tiananmen Square first?” read one representative posting, referring to China’s violent suppression of pro-democracy protests in 1989.