Its an indication of increasing trust deficit against the Finance Minister.
Dato Seri Tengku Zafrul Aziz turned 49 on Friday. Instead of the usual, he was given a Happy Tuning wish by a Facebooker, obviously poking fun at government for being slow. He was reminded for getting caught lying ever so often.
On the sudden reemergence of the Subang Airport issue, Zafrul denied Government has intention to sell and reiterate Government will honour the lease agreement with Malaysia Airport Holdings Berhad (MAHB) till 2067.
He may not have realised yet but there is an increasing public distrust towards him. His every words is being combed and scrutinised.
In his latest FB status, Zafrul claimed government faced public opposition last year to introduce i-Lestari, i-Sinar and automatic bank moratorium, but remained committed to think of a solution to help the rakyat (people).
All along it was him who pandered to Tan Sri Mahiaddin's ego to resist any suggested initiatives from Dato Najib. But today Zafrul is claiming credit as goverment's.
Undeniably, any ruling party have the right to gloat. It is not yet for the Subang Airport issue. The union viewed Zafrul's denial as hazy and short of rejection of WCT's proposal. He was attempting a doublespeak.
Since day 1 as Minister of Finance, it was noticeable that Zafrul's statements tend to appease his audience or public or critics, but his action would oftenly be the reverse.
Over time, he has developed a knack for putting up a facade of political correctness, but subtly it is otherwise and self serving to businessmen.
Edge Online reported:
“The Subang Airport is one of the 39 airports operated by MAHB, in line with the operating agreement entered in 2009 between the government and MAHB. MAHB is not the owner of any of the airport properties.“So far, MAHB is still the responsible party to develop assets surrounding the Subang Airport. Part of the Subang Airport land has also been subleased by MAHB to Subang SkyPark Sdn Bhd for a period of 30 years (2007-2037), which includes operations of Terminal 3, parking and the hangarage,” the finance minister said.
Zafrul emphasised MAHB is not land owner i.e. government is and his denial mentioned "So far" or in Malay, "Setakat ini." It could be misconstrued as not at the moment, but government could in the near or distant future.
WCT via Subang Skypark Sdn Bhd proposed a 50-year concession till 2092 and plan to "redevelop" the airport at a cost of RM3.7 billion over 10 years. It means having a concession beyond their MAHB sublease expiry in 2037. If their proposal is accepted, SSSB has the concession after MAHB lease on Subang Airport ends in 2067.
That is a bold proposal for a company described by Rocky Bru as having "political links but zero track record in aviation", but usual for a property developer.
UNI-Malaysia Labour Centre (UNI-MLC) president Datuk Mohamed Shafie BP Mammal lambasted the government for thinking the union are fools. He directed his anger towards both Zafrul and Minister of Transport, Dato Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong.
Wee was caught in the crossfire, but he and MAHB Chairman Dato Seri Dr Zambery Kadeer relayed their reservation on the WCT proposal. Decision involving MAHB and Subang Airport comes under the purview of MOF and rightly for him to pass the buck to Zafrul.
Zambery repeated his opposition to the plan. MAHB and Malaysia Aviation Group (representing MAS) told the press they made a joint memorandum against WCT plan.
Zafrul's big mistake is to subtly accuse all opposing voices to the WCT plan as spreading false news and rumours, and warn them of "appropriate actions".
That is a PR disaster that is suspected of having a PMO touch. He has only himself to blame for allowing to be talked into revealing his claws.
Union President Datuk Shafie shot back at Zafrul's attempt to silence legitimate concern with an appropriate reply, "If you’re so worried about fake news, why take three long months before addressing the matter to the public?"
It seemed to be a case of, to quote the line from the 1967 movie, "Cool hand Luke", "What we got here is a failure to communicate". But Abraham Lincoln quote is more appropriate.
"You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can not fool all of the people all of the time."
Zafrul's bigger problem is the perception of him as having no stance, indifferent to the suffering of the common folks, and more of a wakil Bank than wakil rakyat.
Zafrul have been hush hush trying to ignore the rubble when the issue started with the hope it will go away. Maybe he could not commit to an answer till Cabinet clearly say no. Does the boss intend to say yes?
Zafrul's warning may have been intended for MP from Muar, Syed Saddiq, who has the tendency to oversensationalise. Now it is a lost cause because Saddiq has support from Hannah Yeoh and it he will be politicised further.
DAP need to take the opportunity to cleanse past sins of PH government when Lim Guan Eng and Tony Pua was cancelling, restructuring and renegotiating contracts for suspicion of kickback and selling away national assets.
Zafrul and PN government has the way out. Presiden of the Malaysia Aerospace Industry Association (MAIA), Naguib Mohd Nor suggested approving the Subang Regeneration Plan submitted by MAHB.
What is holding government back?