Malaysiakini Letter

Give credit where credit is due

Dominic Chia  |  Published:  |  Modified:

Lately a number of prominent figures, notably politicians and economists have lambasted Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak over his pledges to the US, which include buying 25 units (some say that it is actually 16 units) of 737 Boeing jets and another 8 units of 787 Dreamliners. The pledge also says that another 25 jets might be purchased in the near future.

Of course, there were also a few positive remarks by the same sort of people. But as usual, the negative comments hurled at Najib's visit with US President Donald Trump took precedence among the rakyat, as it is their nature to grasp negative news much faster to feed their natural tendency to speculate more.

Safety comes first

Probably they had forgotten that in 2014, our national carrier Malaysia Airlines, which is currently known as Malaysia Airlines Berhad (MAB), encountered a double incident in which one of its planes is still missing and another was allegedly shot down by Russian forces.

No doubt the second incident was an ill-fated one. But the former, although allegedly due in part to the pilot, could possibly be due to a technical glitch in the ill-fated MH370.

Therefore, don’t you think that the pledge by our prime minister to purchase those brand new jets is a good piece of news for the passengers of MAB, our once-prominent national carrier?

On a positive note, the pledge has been made with people’s safety in mind. The move also purely reflects the government’s commitment to raise the people’s confidence and to support the intensive overhaul on MAB to make it a household name among frequent air-travellers.  

Needless to say, the new planes will come with newer and much-improved security features, to the great relief of patrons who used to worry a lot about their safety while in the air, especially after MAB’s double mishaps in 2014.

Recent hike in MAB’s revenue

Before this, MAB had undergone a heavy restructuring process spearheaded by its former CEO Robert Mueller who left the national carrier last year, amid heavy criticisms by locals.

However, his successor, Peter Bellew has taken over the restructuring plan which has resulted the national carrier registering an 8 percent hike in passenger revenue in the second quarter of this year despite the intense competition and a volatile forex movement.

This would have definitely paved the way for the national carrier to buy more new air carriers in order to gain more market confidence.

Even prominent economists like Hoo Ke Ping and Yeah Kim Leng have given positive remarks on Najib’s words to buy new jets from the US.

Hoo, an independent Malaysian economist, has noted that MAB actually registered positive financial growth. Yeah has concurred and further explained that the pledge by Najib does not necessarily bind the MAB to purchase the exact number of jets as mentioned by the prime minister.

According to Yeah, an economics professor at Sunway University Business School, it is still incumbent on the national carrier to decide the number of planes that will be purchased, based on its capacity of the day in capital expenditure.

Another noteworthy point according to him is that the announcement to buy the jets, be it 16 or 25, actually reflects that MAB is back on track.

Malaysia’s geopolitical stance  

On top of that, Wan Saiful Wan Jan, CEO of the Institute of Democracy and Economic Affairs (IDEAS) has called Najib’s visit to US an important indication that Malaysia does not favour any particular country in developing its economy.

This is indeed an important stance exhibited by our nation amid inconsistency in the relationship between China and US who are competing with each other to assert their presence in the South China Sea.

This has been made worse by the other surrounding nations as they are claiming their rights on nearby islands and valuable marine deposits.

So, besides being critical towards the Najib-Trump meeting, the naysayers should also put some effort into finding the facts or the inner significance of the government’s moves. More importantly, they should be ready to give credit where it is due.   

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