PETALING JAYA: Shortly after an apology by Tan Sri Tony Fernandes for pledging support to the Barisan Nasional in GE14, Tan Sri Rafidah Aziz has confirmed that AirAsia was indeed pressured by the former government.
In a Facebook posting yesterday, Rafidah said Fernandes and AirAsia executive chairman Datuk Kamarudin Meranun had approached her during breakfast to convey a message from former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak’s “operatives” that she should stop attacking the Barisan government.
According to Rafidah, she remained adamant and told the AirAsia Group CEO and Kamarudin that she was prepared to resign as chairman of AirAsia X.
“I told Tony and Din (Kamarudin) that if they were feeling too much pressure, I will resign. I told them I did not ask for the job.
“Tony refused to talk about that. They both responded with a big ‘no’. ‘We love you’ – those were Tony’s words. I was touched,” she added.
Rafidah said the alleged intimidation by Najib only riled her up, making her attack the Barisan government even more.
As a result, Rafidah said, Fernandes was forced to appease Najib and his “powerful operatives”.
“Tony did not tell me that he was trying so hard to ‘placate’ the PM and his all-powerful operatives. He knew I would veto it.
“Tony was practically publicly crucified! Suffice to say that Tony got the best of my tongue-lashing for not telling me about the plane,” she said.
Rafidah said she later thanked Fernandes and the AirAsia team for “taking the hit for me”.
“Because he knew I was doing the right thing and at the same time, he needed to stop ‘them’ from tightening further screws on where it would hurt most – AirAsia and AAX of which I am chairman,” she said.
Under the present Pakatan Harapan government, Rafidah said she was confident that AirAsia would be able to operate in a more business-friendly environment.
“And constraints faced by the aviation industry can be eased and removed. We can then serve all of you better.
“Let us look ahead, with positivity, and let us put the upsets triggered by the past government way behind us. AirAsia will, God willing, be flying in clearer skies from now on,” she added.
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