KUALA LUMPUR: Opposition lawmakers yesterday protested against the passing of the Malaysian Aviation Commission Bill 2015, that sees the setting up of an aviation commission whose committee members including its executive chairman are to be appointed by the prime minister.
Opposition members of parliament (MPs) and Barisan Nasional MP for Kuala Selangor Datuk Irmohizam Ibrahim voiced the need for an aviation commission that is independent in its functions and does not fall under the purview of the prime minister.
They suggested it should come under the purview of the transport minister.
PKR Lembah Pantai MP Nurul Izzah Anwar in debating the bill told Parliament that Tan Sri Bashir Ahmad Abdul Majid, who is currently adviser to Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd (MAHB), should not be considered for the position of executive chairman of the commission due to past tension between the airport operator and the AirAsia group over issues at klia2, including its opening.
“We don’t want a commission that has no credibility and is biased,” she pointed out.
DAP Petaling Jaya Utara MP Tony Pua noted that the issue of klia2’s cost overrun remains unresolved despite calls by the Public Accounts Committee for an audit to be done by the Auditor-General.
“Until the klia2 matter is resolved, Bashir cannot head the commission,” he added.
The Edge Financial Daily reported on Tuesday that Bashir may be the first executive chairman of the proposed Malaysian Aviation Commission.
PKR Pandan MP Rafizi Ramli said under the bill, the power to be granted to the commission to issue permits and licences to airline stakeholders is also questionable.
“This can create problems in terms of safety aspects,” he added.
Rafizi also raised concerns over clauses contained in the bill in relation to the commission, which give preferential treatment to purchases of planes by the government without applying for any licences.
Prior to the debate, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Abdul Wahid Omar in tabling the bill for second reading yesterday asked Parliament to pass a launching grant of RM90 million for the commission.
“The RM90 million is for the first two years of operations,” he said.
The Malaysian Aviation Commission Bill that was first tabled in Parliament on Monday, will see the setting up of the country’s first aviation commission to regulate economic matters relating to the civil aviation industry.
The commission’s tasks include connectivity improvements — both globally and locally, so as to promote economic ties — integration, growth, trade, investment and tourism.
The commission will be led by an executive chairman who shall be appointed by the prime minister. Its members will include two representatives from the federal government, namely the secretary-general of the ministry of transport and the director-general of the Economic Planning Unit of the Prime Minister’s Department.
“The executive chairman shall be a person who in the opinion of the prime minister has experience, shown capacity and professionalism in matters related to economics, finance, aviation, business or administration relevant to the functions of the commission,” according to the bill.
The aviation commission was first proposed during the unveiling of Khazanah Nasional Bhd’s RM6 billion 12-point recovery plan in August last year for ailing national carrier Malaysian Airline System Bhd (MAS), which has since been privatised.
Apart from his advisory role in MAHB, Bashir was recently appointed by Khazanah as chairman of the Corporate Reskilling Centre, which provides outplacement and reskilling opportunities for employees not migrating to MAS’s new company.
This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on April 9, 2015.