The Star reported today that “that Khazanah, which owns a 69% stake in MAS, is said to have concluded negotiations with AirAsia chief executive officer Tan Sri Tony Fernandes to come up with a deal to save the national carrier”. “Fernandes is to get 20% equity in MAS under the deal that is to be signed this week, with some sources saying it has already received the Government’s approval and could be inked today.”
In my immediate respond to the above, may I pose three innocent questions to Tan Sri Datuk Azman Hj Mokhtar: Why these so-called negotiations of the share swap were done with such secrecy? Why was there a need for such a rush for this so-called share swap to be signed by this week? Is MAS really in dire strait of collapsing or other airline?
It must be noted that the primary objectives of Khazanah Nasional Bhd (Khazanah) are:
- To hold and manage the investments entrusted to it by the Government of Malaysia; and
- To undertake new investments where there are strategic opportunities, in new sectors and in new markets
Why is Khazanah, which is headed by Tan Sri Datuk Azman Hj Mokhtar, was not interested to look into why MAS was left in such a state and AirAsia “is flying so high” (from what I can see from all the moves)?
Since Khazanah is entrusted by the Government to “hold and manage the investment”, why is Khazanah not interested to look into how and why the growth of MAS was stifled directly or indirectly by the unseen hands!
Surely Tan Sri Azman is fully aware of the lucrative catering business in the airline industry in Malaysia was taken from MAS and handed over in a silver plater to LSG Sky Chef Brahim Sdn Bhd (LSG) during the Pak Lah’s administration sometimes in 2004 to service and cater for all National and most International Airlines flying to and from Kuala Lumpur. It is believed that the contractual terms are one sided and unusually long!
Why is Tan Sri Azman not interested in finding ways and means to take back this lucrative business of servicing and catering for all airline in and out of KLIA with government help in the national interest for MAS? Why when AirAsia FAKS gave up Rural Air Services (RAS) PREMATURELY, Khazanah did not demand for the return of the subsidy of RM65 million from FAKS? Why Khazanah did not demand for the payment of RM35 million, which was incurred by MAS to make the 7 aircraft airworthy for RAS, from AirAsia FAKS? These are enough glaring facts for Tan Sri Azman to ponder!
Coming back to LSG. Who has the control stake in LSG? We all should know who is that person related to? Now Khazanah seemed to be blaming MAS management for all the problems MAS is facing. This is most unfair and irresponsible of Khazanah, a national incorporation entrusted with looking after are national wealth. Of course, MAS management is not perfect just like any other company. Khazanah’s chairman, Tan Sri Azman Mokthar, should touch his heart and ask why MAS is in such a sorry state? Was it engineered or just sheer incompetence or by chance? By whichever management standard one would like to set to measure MAS performance, it falls squarely on Khazanah for failing in its national duties to address whatever problems MAS was facing at the material times. For a start, Khazanah should stop the handing over of the lucrative business of servicing and catering to LSG but it didn’t lift a finger to stop. I hope that Khazanah was not instrumental in the whole exercise of LSG’s take over of the said business.
I am aggrieved that MAS, our national carrier, has been “dianaktirikan” by certain quarters. Please take note that most, if not all, low cost airlines in America, India and last year Oasis in Hong Kong have collapsed. Their national government did not lift a finger to provide financial helps or for that matter to provide them with special rights to owe airport taxes with a discount upon settlement. Quite rightly so because they are public listed companies and should be treated like one. Surely we cannot expect our government to be a financial ambulance for public listed companies!
I dare Tan Sri Tony Fernandes or Tan Sri Datuk Azman Mokthar for that matter to say that AirAsia has been better managed with great business plans with NO direct or indirect government help and the others collapsed low cost airlines did not have the same criteria. Hence, the share swap was made in the national interest!
I pray that the government will step in to investigate this share swap and the airlines servicing and catering business in KLIA with the the sole view to put right the anomalies in the airline industry so that we can be proud of MAS again as our national carrier and ambassador, like before when MAS was under the care of Yg Bhg Tan Sri Aziz and the like. Stop the rot before it is too late.