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Sunday December 25, 2005
KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia Airlines (MAS) made a promise to the Government that it would not sell its headquarters building at Jalan Sultan Ismail here, said its former managing director Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Abdul Rahman.
The promise was made verbally by a former MAS chairman, the late Raja Tun Mohar Raja Badiozaman to the late prime minister Tun Abdul Razak Hussein.
Abdul Aziz, who had served the longest as MAS managing director from 1981 to 1992, said Raja Tun Mohar had also promised to return the land and building to the Government if MAS failed to manage it properly.
Abdul Aziz, who is now a lawyer and businessman, is advisor to Prowaris, a bumiputra non-governmental organisation.
The current MAS management has proposed that the 36-storey building, which was built at a cost of RM88mil and is now reported to be worth between RM300mil and RM350mil, be sold off as one way of overcoming its financial problem.
Abdul Aziz, who started his service in MAS in 1971, said that before the MAS headquarters building was built, the MAS management had rented space at the UMBC headquarters building here.
“At that time, we felt we needed our own building to reflect the strong image of Malaysia Airlines and that the site must also be a prestigious one,” he said.
Abdul Aziz said that it was also a coincidence that there was a vacant piece of land, then belonging to the Government at Jalan Sultan Ismail which was also being sought after by several government agencies.
“Raja Tun Mohar, who was the economic advisor to the Government then, had promised that MAS would utilise its own funds and if the land could not be developed, it would be returned (to the government),” he said.
Abdul Aziz urged the MAS management to find other ways to look for funds instead of selling its headquarters building.
Asked why he had chosen to talk to the media instead of telling the Government directly, Abdul Aziz said that he wanted his views to be heard by the general public.
“I suppose I can do both. But this thing had been in the media for several weeks. I believe that the best approach is to have the same media which had been writing about others’ opinions to write about my opinion as well.”
Abdul Aziz felt that among the factors contributing to the MAS problems today was the stiff competition from a low-cost carrier (LCC) and the lack of support from the Government to the extent that MAS could not afford to compete with the LCC.
“We must understand that Malaysia is a small market, so we can’t have two types of services, that is the LCC and the full service airline such as MAS.
“If the Government opts for the LCC, then MAS can also change and operate like the other LCCs. Are we prepared to do this?” he said. – Bernama
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