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Saturday, August 30, 2014

Why punish 6,000 MAS staff over Putrajaya’s incompetence, asks Anwar

Anwar questions the wisdom of having a government-linked businessman compensated for his losses while in charge of Malaysia Airlines, while 6,000 employees of the airlines lose their jobs. - The Malaysian Insider pic, August 30, 2014.Anwar questions the wisdom of having a government-linked businessman compensated for his losses while in charge of Malaysia Airlines, while 6,000 employees of the airlines lose their jobs. - The Malaysian Insider pic, August 30, 2014.Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim today questioned why Putrajaya was laying off 6,000 Malaysia Airlines (MAS) staff in its attempt to restructure the loss-making national carrier, while those who had dragged it into the red were compensated.
"Have you ever thought for a second, what is the future of these 6,000 families? Was it their fault? Were they lazy, incompetent?
"Whose fault is it? Why punish these guys, when those who committed the crime are given adequate compensation?" the PKR de facto leader said during his lecture for the Asian Renaissance Course at the Centre for Reform Democracy and Social Initiative in Puchong, in Selangor today.
Dr Mahathir brokered a deal that saw Tan Sri Tajuddin Ramli take out a RM1.79 billion loan in 1994 to buy a 32% majority stake in MAS.
Tajudin, a former MAS executive chairman, was badly affected by the 1997 Asian financial crisis and ended up selling his stake in the ailing airline to the government for RM1.79 billion – or RM8 a share –  the same sum he paid in 2001. However, the company’s closing share price at the time Tajudin sold MAS was RM3.68.
"What happened next? MAS lost billions of ringgit, and Tajudin was given a gift of RM586 million ringgit," said Anwar today.
State investment vehicle Khazanah Nasional Berhad announced yesterday that 6,000 jobs will be cut at the national carrier, which has lost at least RM3 million a day for the first half of the current financial year.
Khazanah managing director Tan Sri Azman Mokhtar said RM6 billion will also be injected into MAS, adding that the money can be recovered within three years, with the flag carrier projected to attain profitability by the end of 2017, and when it prepares for relisting between 2018 and 2020.
"Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak says it is not a bailout, but an investment. RM6 billion to be spent and 6,000 staff to be sacrificed," said Anwar.
"The fundamental question is, why has it come to this?"
He pointed to the RM6.25 billion, 25-year catering contract awarded to Brahim's Holdings, which he said had burdened MAS for years.
"Never before has there been a deal involving giving a contract to anyone for 25 years. And this was given to the brother of a former prime minster," said Anwar, referring to Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.
"All this weakened MAS and continued to burden it, until it has reached this point. Then came MH370 and MH17."
Anwar said it was unfair that the 6,000 MAS staff and their families are punished for matters beyond their control.
"If you want to be a leader, you must care for the people. You must understand the people's suffering," he said.
Yesterday, Najib said the job cuts would be done with compassion. And, if there was a need to replace the chief executive officer during this period, opportunities would be given to locals.
Najib said the restructuring plan was only for the betterment of the national carrier, and help from Putrajaya was needed to see that being fulfilled.
On Thursday, MAS said its second-quarter nett loss widened to RM307 million from RM176 million for the same period last year, though the result was an improvement from the nett loss of RM443 million in the first quarter.
MAS warned of poor second-half earnings as passenger bookings continue to fall, with business hit by the shooting down of flight MH17 over Ukraine in July and the unexplained disappearance of flight MH370 in March.
- TMI

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