|Pesawat AirAsia AK 5218 terbabas di Lapangan Terbang|
Antarabangsa Kuching (KIA) pada 11 Januari 2011
AirAsia will not have succeeded if it got off the ground in another Asian country where the majority of the people are poor.
Spurred by his success, AirAsia Group CEO Tan Sri Tony Fernandes lamented with pride and a tinge of arrogance: "Growth in Malaysia will be boring. It is growth beyond Malaysian shores which is tempting." (Star June 10, 2012).
Ironically, AirAsia had not been paying its dues to Malaysia Airport Holdings Berhad (MAHB), arguing that the amount of tourist dollar that it brought into the country was even bigger than the debt. Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak might have been fascinated by the proposed MAS-AirAsia tie-up until it fell apart recently.
Tony Fernandes pluck up the courage and arrogance when Tun Abdullah Badawi was at the helm as the former then had many close friends in the Prime Minister’s Department.
Several years ago, Umno Youth chief and Member of Parliament for Rembau Khairy Jamaluddin had planned to set up a Low-Cost Carrier Terminal (LCCT) in Sendayan oblivious to the feelings of former prime minister Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, who had wanted the KL International Airport (KLIA) to be the main hub for all flights.
Sendayan, which is located 15km from Seremban, had been proposed as the new LCCT for AirAsia, but it was eventually reverted to a site next to KLIA due to strong protests from various quarters.
When MAHB wanted to increase the airport tax in December 2011, AirAsia launched a smear campaign against it by pasting red stickers at prominent locations at the LCCT.
His marketing and advertising expertise is undeniable. The sticker, which read “Say No To Airport Tax Increase”, was strategically pasted at various places, including on toilet walls facing travellers as they answered the call of nature. Pretty smart!
Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein and his officers did not see this as a subversive threat. The public would certainly support AirAsia as it had given them the opportunity to travel on cheap flights.
“Say No To Airport Tax Increase” is akin to “Say No To The Government” or “Say No To BN! It is unfortunate that the minister in-charge was unable to decipher the subtle message that instilled hatred against the government.
We cannot stop AirAsia from moving its headquarters to Jakarta as in business world; there is no love, no loyalty and no nationalism. What matter most are ideals.
The important thing for Tony Fernandes is growth as espoused by him, "Growth in Malaysia will be boring at single digit of 3%, 4% to 5%, but not in countries like Vietnam, the Philippines and Indonesia where there are plenty of opportunities over the next 10 to 15 years ". He should have started his business in the Philippines.
"Our cost advantage in Malaysia is eroding as airport charges go up whereas in other countries they are building low-cost terminal for us," he said. He did not mention how AirAsia raked in huge profit by not settling debt running into hundreds of million ringgit to MAHB.
AirAsia has also warned that it might ignore former prime minister Tun Dr. Mahathir’s plan and sentiments. Hence, he still had not given his assurance whether to use KLIA2. Maybe he is still confident that the LCCT would be built in Sendayan when Khairy becomes a minister.
In the words of AirAsia new chief executive officer for its Malaysia-based operations and executive director who will be reporting to Tony Fernandes: "We are still in discussion over the matter.”
In a brief note to Zamkata, Council of Former Elected Representatives (MUBARAK) president Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Abdul Rahman said: "AirAsia has disentangled itself from MAS and now has moved its ASEAN Headquarters to Jakarta. Surprisingly what remains in Malaysia is its legacy of high demands to facilitate its operation in Malaysia in respect of new airport facilities.
"Worse there was a rampant campaign with stickers in the aircraft saying ‘No To Airport Tax’. Are these enough reasons to move its ASEAN headquarters to Jakarta?"
Abdul Aziz had quietly assisted the Malaysian Airlines System Employees Union (MASEU), which has over 20,000 members, to remind the government that MAS is a national asset and his intervention had contributed to the cancellation of the MAS-AirAsia deal.
It seems that Tan Sri Rafidah Aziz, who is now AisAsia non-executive chairman, also shared the sentiment that nationalism is nonsense in the business world. Syabas Rafidah!
In the march towards globalisation, the government no longer has the power over the people, but rather the conglomerate has a hold over the government and people.