Many have supported the 'merger' while not few opposed it on the ground that Airasia, being a private-owned airline, will dominate one of the government's largest GLC. If the swap deal was everything proper, there won't be any opposition.
And what matters most now is for full investigation be conducted on the deal, including the brains behind such a 'complicated and intriguing' business agreement.
The Dewan Rakyat felt the heat yesterday when Kinabatangan MP Bung Mokhtar Radin called on 'Amok' to be investigated by graftbusters after the state investment agency exchanged 20.5 per cent of the national carrier for a 10 per cent stake in Asia’s top-performing budget airline.
“The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) must call Tan Sri Azman ... all of them ... if there is any misappropriation, stuff them into jail,” the Barisan Nasional (BN) backbenchers deputy chief told Parliament. “How can Khazanah be fooled? Azman Mokhtar, how can he be so stupid, to be ‘tuned’ by Tony Fernandes. If I was in such a position, I would resign rather than troubling others.
“Maybe they are not stupid. Maybe they get huge profits by squeezing and grabbing money from the public,” he said, referring to the AirAsia CEO’s company Tune Air which now owns a fifth of MAS.
Sri Gading MP Mohamad Aziz also accused AirAsia of 'clearly cheating the public and now trying to cheat MAS'.
“If this kind of man (Fernandes) can control us, God forgive us,” he said while debating Budget 2012.
Accusing the government of being scared with Fernandes, Bung Mokhtar said: “Whatever he wants, we give. He wants to overcharge for excess baggage and suck the blood of poor villagers. Now I hear he has a plan in the future to take over all domestic flights and MAS will only have international flights. If we give this to him, the country will be in ruins. It will be the end of the world for us,” he said.
And if the government could not provide a satisfactory answer, it meant that 'government officials colluded with AirAsia and has vested interests'.
The MAS-AirAsia swap has come under fire from both sides of the political divide as well as employees of MAS who believe the deal will affect their careers. The Finance Ministry said earlier this month the deal is being investigated by Bursa Malaysia and the Securities Commission for insider trading despite the swap being agreed on three months ago.
MAS’s poor financial performance of late had resulted in the share swap with AirAsia on August 9. This allowed Fernandes to sit on the MAS board, ostensibly to help turn the ailing airline around. However, both airlines have separate advisers.
MAS had announced in August a net loss of RM527 million for the second quarter of 2011 due to higher fuel costs despite recording a better yield and a nine per cent growth in passenger revenue from the same period last year.
This brings total losses in the first half of the year to RM769 million even as the airline said that profit outlook for the second half of the year appears bleak.
Critics have accused the budget carrier’s boss of taking advantage of the loss-making national airline to fuel his personal ambitions, the latest being the acquisition of English Premier League club, Queens Park Rangers (QPR).
The national carrier will sponsor QPR’s home jersey for the next two seasons, while AirAsia’s logo will be emblazoned on the team’s away and third kits in a 'multi-million pound' deal.Fernandes also revealed on Monday a plan to start a new super-premium regional airline in partnership with national carrier Malaysia Airlines.
"Here is another idea that has come out of AirAsia which will create more more value, more jobs and more business. If an idea like this does materialise... it will definitely involve Malaysia Airlines," he told reporters.
Fernandes said the proposed short-haul carrier would cater largely to business travellers, among others, who need to travel across the region quickly. "For me as a traveller, time is very precious. If you can create a product where you do not need to wait one hour before you check in and fly out and Malaysia can be the home of this idea."