PETALING JAYA: After writing a strongly-worded letter about his experience flying with Malaysia Airlines, disabled rights advocate Peter Gabriel Tan has been invited to meet with airline chief executive Peter Bellew to discuss safety concerns for the disabled.
Tan had written an open letter to Bellew, which was published by the Borneo Post on Sunday.
He wrote of how he was not able to board Flight MH784 to Bangkok on Feb 1 until all passengers had boarded as his request for an aisle chair to get into the aircraft was not carried out.
An aisle chair is a device designed to transport travellers who cannot walk to their seat on an airplane.
Tan also wrote about a faulty arm-rest on his seat that could not be lifted, which resulted in "great difficulty" in moving in and out of the seat.
Tan's wheelchair was also mistakenly sent to the baggage carousel in Bangkok.
"On behalf of the Malaysia Airlines family I humbly apologise. That was no way to treat another human being. Your journey was terrible," said Bellew in an email addressed to Tan on Monday.
Bellew quipped how modern jet aircraft are poorly designed to accommodate disabled customers.
"I personally will now review the safety of how we speed these exits from our aircraft," said Bellew.
He wrote that he can "say sorry all day", but it won't help Tan.
"A more constructive approach I think would be to meet with you in person and members of national organisations that represent people with mobility challenges.
"There has to be a better way to help you," said Bellew.
Bellew requested to meet with Tan at his home or to organise a meeting in Kuala Lumpur.
He also talked about his goal to make MAS "the pride of the nation again".
"We are adopting right now a Golden Rule ... Treat other people as you wish to be treated yourself," said Bellew.
"Mr Tan, I promise you I will work hard to get that Golden Rule in operation throughout Malaysia Airlines.
"Hopefully we can work together to use the Golden Rule to create a new and better way for our disabled customers to see that the journey itself is the reward," he said.
Tan shared Bellew's email reply on his Facebook page Tuesday, which led to several netizens praising Bellew's prompt response.
"Peter Bellew responded like a true human being, kudos to him. There may yet be hope for MAS if his positive attitude can spread through the ranks of a morally disgruntled staff," said Facebook user Antares Maitreya.
Another commenter, Eelynn Tan, complimented Bellew for acknowledging the blunder and for taking steps to rectify the problem.
"I'm glad Peter Bellew replied you personally and I truly hope that his pledge and promises come true! It's at least a step in the right direction," said another Facebook user Leonard Lim.
Facebook user Mastura Mahamed said she will "follow this case closely" and hopes that "real action" will be taken by MAS management.