KUALA LUMPUR - Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has come out in defence of Malaysia's leadership in the global search and rescue (SAR) operation for the missing MH370 plane.
Responding to criticism that the SAR effort is slow, the former prime minister said: "There are so many ... 26 countries in the search.
"Without proper coordination their planes and ships will crash into each other.
"The areas they have to survey are not easy. Lay people think it is easy but, believe me, it is not. We are dealing with people of many nationalities with many different equipment."
Dr Mahathir added that lots of countries had given good marks for Malaysia.
He commented on the matter when met by reporters after addressing the Royal Professor Ungku Aziz Public Lecture Series at Universiti Malaya here yesterday.
Regarding the possible plane debris spotted off Australia, Dr Mahathir said he hoped this was a "real indication" that the plane had crashed.
"It's not a nice thing to say because it means the plane crashed and passengers may have lost their lives ... but at least we know what happened," he said, hoping there will be survivors.
On allegations by Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim in a CNN interview that Malaysia was incompetent in handling the MH370 crisis, Dr Mahathir also accused his former deputy of being incompetent.
"All he did was to spend time urging people to overthrow me, not run the country," said Dr Mahathir, commenting on Anwar's interview with CNN's Christiane Amanpour.
"Naturally, he will tell Amanpour that this is a rotten country. But so many people want to come to live here," added Dr Mahathir.