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Munir must live up to the principles of public accountability and give satisfactory point-by-point reply to allegations of abuses  of power and waste/extravagance  in MAS  before December 1, 2005 - when  Idris Jala starts as the new CEO


Media Statement (2)
by Lim Kit Siang  

Parliament, Saturday): Yesterday, DAP Secretary-General Lim Guan Eng and DAP MPs, Fong Kui Lun (Bukit Bintang), Tan Kok Wai (Cheras), Teresa Kok (Seputeh) and I met the Malaysian Airlines (MAS) Chairman Datuk Dr. Munir Majid and executive director Tengku Azmil Zahruddin for 90 minutes to convey our concerns about the MAS continuing mega-losses and very serious allegations of extravagance and gross waste of funds in a “MAS Flying Buffet” email, including issues such as:

  • RM841,000 renovation;
  • RM1.6 million spent on acquisition of three paintings;
  • RM10 million car deal for senior MAS executives;
  • Allegations about MAS food catering contract.
  • Allegations about MAS consultancy services. 

We made  two points at the very  outset:

  • As national airline and GLC (Government-linked Company), MAS has a responsibility of accountability to the Malaysian public as stakeholders;
  • The concern and support of all Malaysians,  transcending political opinion and affiliation,  for a successful turnaround of MAS so that all Malaysians, including the MAS employees, can be proud  instead of being embarrassed by the losses of the national airline.

I said that I have received reports that MAS employees have found the new CEO Idris Jala down-to-earth and inspiring, which is a fillip to  the  restoration of  the very low staff morale as a result  of prolonged grievances of  the MAS employees  that their hard work  and contribution had not been appreciated or recognized by the company – becoming one of the root causes of poor MAS performance.

We were given a confidential briefing of the MAS turnaround programme.

On the specifics, Munir said the three paintings were a corporate investment;  that the RM841,000  renovation decision to the entire corporate floor and not just to the Chairman’s office  was made before he became MAS Chairman and were implemented when MAS posted a profit; that the decision on the appointment of Chris Andrews as a consultant at RM7,625 a day was made before he became MAS Chairman and that this arrangement had  been replaced with his appointment as MAS senior general manager.

The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, has said that the new MAS CEO Idris Jala must be given time to carry out his work and mandate to turnaround the ailing national airline.   I agree with the Prime Minister.

It has been reported that Idris has said that he would resign if the fortunes of MAS does not improve in two years.  I do not know the veracity of this statement, but Idris will have at least one year to show that he is capable of  turning MAS around from an ailing airline piling up hundreds of millions of ringgit of losses  every three months into profitable airline.

This does not mean however that Munir as MAS Chairman before Idris became CEO on December 1 can get one year’s reprieve from public accountability. He must live up to the principles of public accountability and give satisfactory point-by-point reply to allegations of abuses  of power and waste/extravagance  in MAS  before December 1, 2005 - when  Idris Jala starts as the new CEO.

Last evening, Munir issued a statement threatening to sue anyone for making allegations which are  defamatory of him.

Munir is entitled to take legal action to clear his name but he should not use the defamation threat to avoid accountability for his public duties as MAS Chairman.

He should specify what are the allegations he is taking legal action and give  satisfactory point-by-point reply to all the  allegations about abuse of power and extravagance and gross waste of funds when he was MAS Chairman and before Idris became CEO or  they will become major issues in the March meeting of Parliament next year.

Yesterday, the Barisan Nasional Backbenchers’ Club (BNBBC) Chairman Datuk Shahrir Samad seemed  to have given the MAS a “clean bill of health” after a BNBBC meeting  at the MAS Hqrs.

I find this surprising as Shahrir is also the Chairman of the Parliamentary Accounts Committee (PAC).  Is the BNBBC exoneration of MAS of any fault in the face of the many serious allegations of abuses of power, extravagance and gross waste of funds in two emails an indication that the PAC will not be examining the MAS mega-losses and calling up the MAS Chairman for a detailed examination by the PAC?

Shahrir should be aware that the PAC would be failing in its duty as a watchdog of public funds if is not prepared to slot MAS as an important agenda for examination  for its next meeting.


*  Lim Kit Siang, Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission Chairman

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