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New Straits Times 10 April 2001

At the Dewan Rakyat

'Expedite MAS masterplan'
By Ainon Mohd, Patrick Sennyah and Hayati Hayatudin

THE new management of Malaysia Airlines Berhad should expedite the implementation of their masterplan, as it could be a confidence building measure for the airline.

Barisan Nasional MP for Tambun, Datuk Ahmad Husni Hanadzlah, said the national carrier's performance had political and economic implications for the country.

"The problems faced by Malaysia Airlines are a big issue and the new masterplan should be expedited," he said when debating the Supplementary Supply (2000 and 2001) Bill 2001 at the committee stage.

Ahmad Husni said Malaysia Airline's expenditure was 15 per cent higher than its revenue, and they could be in a better condition, if they had saved in several places.

As an example, he cited the airline's loss from foreign exchange as at March 31, 2000 was about RM500 million, while the interest was RM563 million.

"From this amount alone they could have saved about RM1 billion and they would not be in such a bad shape," Ahmad Husni added.

Malaysia Airline's financing mix debt was RM14 billion for the same period compared to their equity of RM3.6 billion.

He also questioned the Government's global outlook on this issue and suggested they take a global approach in buying Malaysia Airline's shares.

"The Government could maintain a 30 per cent equity and still keep its voting rights. The rest of the shares could be sold to foreigners."

Datuk Kamaruddin Jaafar (Pas-Tumpat) questioned why the Government was giving a backdated approval of RM1.8 billion for the purchase of Malaysia Airlines shares, since the money had already been spent.

The amount is six per cent of the year's total development budget and the Parliament's approval should have been sought before it was spent.

"Such a large amount of money should not be spent so easily by the Finance Ministry before it is passed by Parliament."

Husam Musa (Pas-Kubang Krian) suggested an independent consultant be appointed to evaluate Malaysia Airlines and they would in turn determine the price of the shares.

He added that the buying of the national carrier's shares by the Government was a scandal, as the price of RM8 per share was too high.

When replying to points raised, Deputy Finance Minister Datuk Chan Kong Choy said the Government had to buy the airline's shares as it did not want to see the company deteriorate any further.

"Its performance does have an impact on the economy and the Government did not want foreigners to buy its shares in order for Naluri Berhad to have the controlling stake."


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