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Jakarta Post

Malaysian shaman who hunted for MH370 to contest election


    Agence France-Presse

Ipoh, Malaysia   /   Tue, April 17, 2018   /   07:35 pm
 Malaysian shaman who hunted for MH370 to contest election A Malaysian man walks in front of a mural of missing Malaysia Airlines MH370 plane in a back-alley in Shah Alam on March 8, 2016. Malaysia and Australia said they remained (Agence France -Presse/MANAN VATSYAYANA )

A Malaysian shaman who drew widespread ridicule by trying to locate flight MH370 using coconuts and a "magic" carpet announced Tuesday he will run in elections next month.

Ibrahim Mat Zin -- known by his nickname "Raja Bomoh", which translates as "King of Shamans" -- will contest a parliamentary seat in northern Perak state as an independent candidate.

After Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 disappeared in 2014 with 239 people aboard, Ibrahim launched a bizarre attempt to find the jet at Kuala Lumpur International Airport, from where it had set out.

He conducted a series of rituals, one involving bamboo binoculars and another using two coconuts and what he described as a magic carpet, which he claimed could weaken the "spirits" that were holding the missing plane. 

Despite his best efforts -- and a major multinational search in the Indian Ocean, that was the most expensive in aviation history -- the Boeing jet remains missing.

Announcing his candidacy in the city of Ipoh, the 68-year-old recounted how he "just held up two coconuts and became an instant global star.

"I am contesting for the sake of the people. I will help the people with financial support from my salary if I win."

But he is likely to find as little success in politics as he did in his ill-fated hunt for MH370 -- he is running against Deputy Prime Minister Zahid Hamidi, one of the most powerful figures in government.

Following the assassination of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's brother at Kuala Lumpur airport last year, Ibrahim conducted a ritual on a beach, supposedly to protect Malaysia from any attack launched by Pyongyang.

Authorities were disturbed enough by his antics to briefly detain him.

The May 9 poll will be a tough test for Prime Minister Najib Razak's coalition, which has governed Malaysia for six decades.

Najib has been battling allegations huge sums were looted from state fund 1MDB, and also faces a tough challenge from veteran ex-leader Mahathir Mohamad, 92, who is the opposition's prime ministerial candidate.

Najib and 1MDB deny any wrongdoing.