KUALA LUMPUR, May 7 — Politics is dictating the future of Malaysia Inc, Singapore’s Business Times said today, suggesting that the nation’s economy may suffer at the hands of self-serving politicians anxious to win electoral support in order to stay in power.
The business paper noted in its Malaysia Insight column today titled “What the unions have wrought” that with the end of the much-vaunted share swap deal between Malaysia Airlines and AirAsia, there was no more incentive for Asia’s bestselling budget airline to help resuscitate the ailing national carrier.
It noted that AirAsia has said it would continue its collaboration with MAS and AirAsia X, its long-haul arm, in key areas such as “procurement, aircraft component repairs, training initiatives, technical and operational efficiencies, as well as championing common industry issues” that would help boost MAS’ performance.
“Does anyone really believe this? Without anything to incentivise it — and the share swap did — why would AirAsia go out of its way to help MAS?” the paper questioned.
“Whichever way one slices it, it looks like only one conclusion: politics is dictating the future of Malaysia Inc. And that is scary,” it said.
“But it was the unions that made up the government’s mind over fears that the share swap might result in massive job cuts,” it added.
BT noted that the deal was scrapped following protests from the national airline’s powerful unions that put political pressure on the Barisan Nasional (BN) government which is expected to call a general election in the next few months.
Most of MAS’s 20,000 employees are resident-voters in Selangor, a key state currently under Pakatan Rakyat (PR) government that Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak has openly stated he wants back.
The paper asked: “With such losses, does MAS really need 20,000 employees?”
“The unions should really think about what they have wrought. Without an airline, there will be no jobs,” it said.