Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Airasia, Firefly and the Malay Agenda Charade

One classic Gershwin song had a fun phrase to describe minute irreconcilable differences between a couple.

You say po-tae-to, I say po-ta-to
You say to-mae-to, I say to-ma-to
Let’s call the whole thing off.

Malay Agenda Charade

When Pak Lah took stewardship of this country, he spoke at the top of his hoarse voice at his first UMNO General Assembly (GA) in 2004 as President on a Malay (Economic) Agenda. Subsequently, Malay Agenda became buzzword at Malay intellectual and political discourses and brought a renewed sense of excitement amongst those concern for the fate of the Malays.

In 2005, Khairy came out with the words “kesinambungan semangat DEB”. Then, the GLC was taken into the spotlight that year for not playing their role or in their corporate buzzword “KPI” had no Malay Agenda.

At UMNO 2006 GA in November, the GLC was again taken to task. Khairy again took the GLC to task. Come March 25th, 2007 in an Utusan Malaysia article, he turned defensive to explain the GLC transformation and quote a so-called turnaround like MAS. He began to renegade from his earlier years ranting on Malay Agenda and GLC by doing an overview of the issues and its dilemmas.

The best he could say was a no solution to an already 3-year discussion with “Jalan penyelesaiannya banyak bergantung kepada kebolehan GLC untuk mengimbangi tuntutan urus niaga dan juga matlamat Agenda Melayu dengan bijak.” Ah well! That Khairy! As one quite aware of his conniving moves with his non Malay proxies, particularly in ECM Libra and AirAsia, any of his words needs not just a pinch of salt but lots of it.

When Maybank, as a GLC Company, which is not Khazanah but Malay Trustee PNB controlled, attempted to assist Malay lawyers, the expected hue and cry from non Malays is heard. DAP made an issue out of it and MCA did the whispering from inside. The UMNO President and claimed proponent of Malay Agenda flip to the coordinated pressure then flop from it as brave cries from several UMNO personalities began to response. That tells so much of his ability to grasp his own words.

But where is Pemuda UMNO’s voice? Where is the voice of Mr “Kesinambungan semangat DEB”? Where is the movement that back in the 80s were monitoring and ensuring that Companies abide with the DEB and even pushing for employment for Malay graduates ?

MAS The GLC, AirAsia Owns the Air

Since AirAsia is touched, it is widely known that MAS is to be slaughtered for AirAsia and MCA’s Minister of Transport … opps Minister of “Hal Ehwal” AirAsia will make sure it happens. MAS will seemed to be turning around so Idris Jala looks like doing a good job but he is actually just retrenching staff and fancy reappropriating asset sales as operational profit. He sold office, hotel, and any asset he could get his hand on. Whats left?

The motherf**ker to takeover Idris Jala’s job is in for a major f**k. Oh well, some of those MFs, like one GM named Zulaifah is a Singaporean. One wonders how many more of those Singaporean, AirAsians and non Airliner consultants at top management level planted to run MAS to the ground and six feet under? Not to be left out, an AirAsia lawyer is due to be employed. There is already an AirAsia “lawyer” heading revenue management and planning. That lawyer must be a born natural mathematician to manage operation research outfit?

As for Tony Fernandez, Khairy’s futsal kaki, he will get his way with routes and everything else. The red dot down there that the current administration seemed to have renewed friendship with will benefit with an open sky policy and opening of the KL route.

Tony wanted the Rural Air Service (RAS) and he got it for FAX. In early January 2007, he also got FAX the license to be the new long haul air service for AirAsia-X for supposedly non MAS long haul routes. Why would Tony want those MAS’s routes said to be non profitable? Conveniently, Tony cashed out to maintain his investment portfolio cashflow as AirAsia, the PLC buys 20% in FAX. In March 2007, their Minister announced expansion of the LCCT for AirAsia’s growth. He gets it his way again.

MAS announced in mid March 2007 a new budget airline subsidiary, Firefly. It will operate out of Penang to cover Kota Baru, Kuantan, Kuala Terengganu, Penang, Phuket and Kok Samui, Thailand. Coincidentally, FAX decided to end its RAS arrangement with Government and MAS or Firefly is supposed to takeover that operation. Tony just realised its not a very profitable routes and let MAS have it. Tony gets it his way big time.

Firefly and GLC Malay Discrimination

I guess we have to live with Oxford’s lesson on corporate turnaround taught to Khairy. Lets hear now of how Khairy’s perception of GLC’s role and balancing act to incorporate Malay Agenda. I’ll not talk of opportunities to be vendors for Malays but just focus on employment.

Who doesn’t know that MAS as a GLC has been providing opportunity to Malays for employment? It is beyond just employment but aerospace is one area that Malay have a distance edge in. That’s opportunity and hard work. After Minister for AirAsia Affairs has denied plans for retrenchment on November 16th, 2005, a massive purge occurred as experienced and competent Airliners became “mangsa”, as described by the MAS Staff Union President a day earlier.

Now, MAS has lost a lot of good people to other Airlines and not to mention it cost a lot of money to MSSed them. PM got the cheek to ask MAS to train more pilots to replace those leaving to other countries. With all these going ons, he actually used to say Malaysia to be an aerospace country by 2015. Is he talking in his sleep?

MAS is not creating employment but when there is, it is discriminating against Malay and also other races. Firefly is now about to get into operations and doing its hiring. Thats when I was texted of this disturbing information on their job ad in their website

The "agile, brilliant, charm and fun" new Airline of MAS under their CEO, Eddy Leong are looking for pilots, management trainee and stewardess. The sickening part is requirement of good command in Mandarin mentioned as advantage. When it is mentioned, the practise is that they want Mandarin speaking applicants. What does that tell for Malays, Indians and other races? Go, don’t even try!

What puzzles me are: With that kind of operation, why do you need stewardess with that kind of language competency? Why do you need Management Trainees with that kind of language competency? Do you need it to serve Peninsular capitals and Thai resort towns? The ad says it already expired on April 7th, 2007. How many non Chinese actually applied? How many got it?

Now on 31st Mei 2006, Human Resource Minister, Dato Dr Fong Chan On in his comment to an earlier comment by Dato’ Seri Najib a day earlier already said, hiring with Mandarin requirement is lop sided and unfair.

What is Pemuda UMNO going to do to this blatant racism? What is Khairy going to say of this discrimination by GLC on Malays it is supposed to have an Agenda for? Are we to hear again more chant of Malay Agenda from Khairy again?

Now will the much hue and cry over Maybank’s affirmative action assistance as racist be heard of Firefly’s hiring practise? There should be but I am not hopeful. In the inner MAS circle, Firefly is the “standby” future management of MAS. With nearly all of current management committee of MAS speaks Mandarin, it is now the way forward. Perhaps, all of them have discuss it at the Minister's office. Ah! The China factor! Does the the name John Toh and Vincent Leong sounds China or Malaysia?

To pun Gershwin’s tune,

You say Maybank,
I say Firefly,
Lets call this Malay Agenda charade off!

This tune is for Pak Lah and Khairy.


kittykat46 said...

Hi A Voice,
I have flown Firefly twice since its launch - basically I had no choice as the route was only served by Firefly, or I would have to take a long bus trip.

The Pilot on one flight was Malay, the other flight Chinese (quite sure he's a Malaysian) and the flight crew was multi-racial. I can't see anything wrong with the racial mix of their employees.

For international flights, airlines everywhere are making a point to hire at least some Mandarin speaking flight crew - even Western and Middle-Eastern airlines. That's just commercial reality, nothing racial about it.

Asrul Zamani said...

Oh did you not know that Malaysia is the, 2nd province (or is it 3rd or 4th ???) of China?

THe Malays are a tolerant lot, to their own detriment! Have you heard of the expression bagi betis nak peha? (give the calf and you'd want the thigh). I wonder what more they wish to have had they had the thigh!

Refer to my writing on Maybank:

Thai Chat said...

Malaysia the secon province of china, funny ! I can't stop laughing !:)

A loyal MAS retiree said...

Hi, I am a MAS Retiree. I read your posting with great interest, which encouraged me to add a few of my thoughts/feedback.

Whilst I shared the same joy of seeing MAS now being rescued, I am somewhat disturbed with what I have been hearing from my old colleagues who are still working in MAS.

Contrary to popular belief, Datuk Idris Jala didn't pull through the turnaround successfully alone.

In fact, my friends in MAS told me that Datuk Idris depended heavily on Eddy Leong all this while to make his business turnaround a success! Eddy Leong was recrutied to head Datuk Idris' Turnaround Management Office (TMO) which was set up to plan, strategize and execute all of Datuk Idris' turnaround effort. In fact, the entire TMO are run Eddy's own friends and ex-colleagues, of which the majority are non-Malays!!

Through my conversation with old buddies, Eddy Leong is actually the REAL mastermind behind some of the largest initiatives in turnaround MAS:

1. The much talked about excess baggage collection, in which airport staff are rewarded for being ruthless in collecting excess baggage fees, I am told that Eddy Leong is the architect behind the whole reward scheme.

2. Idris prides himself on the successful revenue increase of over RM1b, which contributed to the bulk of the turnaround. Guess what? It was Eddy Leong who ran the route revenue increase scheme, cracking his whips away at the commercial folks. Along the way, he managed to settle some old scores with people who made life difficult for him before. In fact some of the countries managers were removed based on Eddy's recommendation. Talk about power!

3. According to sources among the travel agents, Eddy also single-handedly came up with the travel agent incentive scheme which further contributed towards the revenues. The commercial team was never good at creating workable reward scheme, so Datuk Idris sought after Eddy's help to mastermind it.

4. One of the most hyped project codenamed "Omega" was also headed by Eddy. It was a project to enhance the Network and Revenue Management Department so that MAS gets more revenue via pricing adjustment. It is a widely known fact that Eddy engaged a whole lots of external Mat Salleh consultants to assist him... so much for Datuk Idris' remark earlier "I will not use external consultants..." What a load of B.S. For awhile, there were rumors that Eddy was to replace Bernard Francis, the existing Head of Revenue Management.

5. And now comes the most famous project of them all: Firefly - the ultimate secret weapon against Tony Fernandes' Air Asia.

Once again, Eddy has convinced Datuk Idris that in order to make Firefly a success, Idris has to make Eddy the Managing Director. The appointment came as a shock because Eddy is less than 35 years old and whilst there are plenty of highly experienced senior managers in MAS, Datuk Idris gave Eddy one of the most important and high profile position in MAS. One can't helped but to think Datuk Idris is completely being manipulated by Eddy...

Recently, there was a major management shakeouts. Some of the staff on the way out are conveniently Eddy's old arch-nemesis. Could Datuk Idris has removed the management personnel based on his own discretion or based on the influence of Eddy? One could only speculate.

These days, no one can or dare to touch Eddy. His words are as good as Datuk Idris'. Whoever is in Eddy's way are said to be targetted for the slaughter machine.

In fact, some of the MAS staff are now grumbling and even made remarks like "Who is Idris without Eddy..."

This sounds very unhealthy to me! Insya-Allah. I can only pray that MAS is indeed in good hands. I suppose it doesn't matter who is the real man behind the MAS show, as long as MAS returns to its glory days... but my instinct tells me that there are more than meets the eye in this case.

God bless MAS.

My Say