Frankly Speaking: Silence is not golden

This article first appeared in The Edge Malaysia Weekly, on March 4, 2019 - March 10, 2019.
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Last week, a news report suggested that the Ministry of Transport is mulling the disbandment of the Malaysian Aviation Commission (Mavcom), which turned three on March 1. It said the reason is to curb government spending. Should Mavcom be disbanded, its role and functions are likely to go back to the Civil Aviation Authority of Malaysia and the ministry — similar to the abolition of the Land Public Transport Commission last year.

At the time of writing, there was no confirmation or denial. Transport Minister Anthony Loke Siew Fook did not respond to queries from The Edge.

The silence is worrying. Mavcom was set up as the economic regulator for the Malaysian aviation sector.  It has undergone leadership changes since the change of government, suggesting it had the backing to continue its mandate. To put things into context, it is an open secret that Mavcom is under persistent pressure from some industry players who have disagreed with its decisions in the past. There had even been calls previously for it to be dissolved. However, it had been defended by the previous government.

Therefore, any uncertainty raised now over Mavcom’s continued existence and operations will undermine its authority if left unaddressed. Morale will drop and upholding its regulatory functions will become unnecessarily difficult.

This is why the ministry should clarify the matter as soon as possible. Should such an option be weighed, the ministry must come clean on the rationale. Funding concerns are illogical as Mavcom has been self-funding since 2018.

Continued silence will only allow uncertainty to fester and ultimately harm Mavcom and the aviation industry in the long run.

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