KUCHING: Sarawakians should be placed on both Malaysia Airlines (MAS) and AirAsia’s boards of directors to ensure that the state’s interests are represented and protected.
Presently, no Sarawakian sits on either airlines’ boards. This, Sarawak Tourism Federation (STF) believes, is one of the reasons why routes to Sarawak were the first to be cancelled nationally in the airlines’ flight rationalisation exercise.
The point is one of more than 10 that will be included in three separate memorandums that STF and other organisations will present to MAS, the state and federal governments tomorrow (Wednesday).
The memorandums are to be unveiled at the Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents state headquarters at Jalan Tabuan here at 11am tomorrow.
Aside from STF, the memorandums will also be supported by the Sarawak Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Kuching Chinese General Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Dayak Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and the Bumiputra Entrepreneurs Chamber.
The Malaysian Associations of Hotels also backs the memorandums.STF president Audry Wan Ullok told The Star the content of the memorandums would be hard-hitting. She said questions were supported by present confusions over flight schedules, while suggestions were backed by past experiences.
“In the memorandum to MAS, we ask it and its subsidiaries to explain and clarify its flight schedule. To date, we have received complaints that Firefly flights have been cancelled on short notice, even up to just two hours before departure,” Audry said yesterday.
“The situation creates uncertainty and lack of confidence in the market. The scenario does not augur well for investors or tourists. STF is requesting that a formal statement be issued by MAS and AirAsia to prevent speculation.”
On the memorandum to the state government, STF will ask about Sarawak’s aviation policy, if any.“If there is no such policy, then why not? If they want to create one now, then STF wants to be represented and have our feedback heard,” Audry said. It is in this memorandum that STF will urge the state government to lobby for Sarawakians to sit on each airline’s board.
The last Sarawakian to sit on MAS’s board was ex-State Secretary Datuk Amar Wilson Baya Dandot. In the past, Audry added, Sarawak’s aviation sector was protected not only by Wilson’s presence, but also by Datuk Seri Idris Jala, when he helmed MAS.
“Since we’ve now learnt how important it is for Sarawakians to be on the boards, it is our suggestion to the state government to lobby on our behalf without delay,” the STF president said.
As for the memorandum to the Federal Government, STF would enquire about measures taken to ensure that the rationalisation would not lead to a monopoly.
Point two of this memorandum would ask the government how the Competition Act which will take effect on Jan 1 next year will protect consumers affected by the rationalisation exercise.
“To be honest, we are no longer questioning the rationale of the rationalisation.“All we want are answers, clarifications and for this level of confusion and setback never to happen again,” Audry said. The rationalisation began after MAS and AirAsia announced a share swap in August.
The first route cancelled by MAS’s subsidiary Firefly was between Kuching and Johor. That was on Sept 15. Since last week, Firefly has also started cancelling its Kuching-Kuala Lumpur flights.
There were no official statements from the airline, aside from confirmations on its Facebook Firefly fan page.