Drop Subang Airport deal or we picket, MAHB unions tell PM

AS WCT Holdings Bhd is still keen on acquiring the coveted Subang Airport, Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd (MAHB) unions urged the Government to scrap the idea for good or risk peaceful protests.

“This acquisition makes no sense and Prime Minister Tan Sri Mahiaddin Yassin should openly declare to the public that it would not happen.

“I also urge MAHB leadership to expel Subang Skypark Sdn Bhd (SSSB), WCT Holdings Bhd’s wholly owned unit, from its partnership for its insolence and lack of integrity.

Hussin Shahar

“Make no mistake about it. All three unions under MAHB will not remain silent and continue to defend Subang Airport staffers and Malaysia’s interest at large by holding pickets and peaceful demonstrations involving employees from the transportation sector if our pleas get ignored,” MAHB Workers’ Union (KESMA) chief Hussin Shahar told FocusM.

The other unions backing his call were MAHB Sarawak Workers’ Union (KEPEMAB) and MAHB Sabah & Labuan Workers’ Union (KEPMAS).

Last month, SSSB proposed to enter a new concession to operate the entire Subang Airport area until 2092 – developing it to be a city airport.

Tycoon Tan Sri Desmond Lim Siew Choon is planning a takeover of the airport, but key Government-linked stakeholders are objecting the move, claiming estimated losses of up to RM11.9 bil.

SSSB is believed to have made the proposal to the Government via the Transport Ministry (MOT). The company plans to turn Subang airport to target point-to-point passengers and express freight together with related property developments.

However, all three unions under MAHB had objected to it and delivered petitions to MOT, Finance Ministry (MOF) and the Sultan of Selangor.

Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM) and UNI-Malaysia Labour Centre (UNI-MLC) president Datuk Mohamed Shafie BP Mammal had also opposed the move, with the latter calling the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) to probe the deal.

Touching on the matter, Hussin said that MAHB staffers had supported the Government’s privatisation programme back in 2006 for the sake of national development and people’s wellbeing.

He added many employees had left their stable positions at the Department of Civil Aviation (DCA) to join MAHB in order to support the Government’s policy.

“But now, the Government is pulling the rug from under our feet with this proposed takeover. Is there a change in national development policy now?

“Is the Government now selling off national assets to vested interests? In that case, is the Government going to dismantle Tenaga Nasional Bhd (TNB) too according to certain zones and sell them off to other parties?

Is the deal that important?

“The point is, such an important proposal and decision should be made transparent to be deliberated by all stakeholders,” he stated.

Hussin stressed that Subang Airport was a national asset, on top of being a heritage site, as it has contributed a lot to Malaysia’s development.

“In fact, MAHB has mooted a comprehensive plan called the ‘Subang Airport Regeneration’ which will rejuvenate the airport further. Plus, the plan is way better than what was proposed by WCT Holdings,” he mentioned.

On that note, Hussin urged MAHB chairman Datuk Seri Zambry Abdul Kadir to stand with the unions and oppose the acquisition proposal by WCT Holdings.

“We have sent a letter to Zambry on May 6 on our opposition but didn’t receive any feedback to date. Perhaps, our chairman is busy with political matters as he was just appointed as Barisan Nasional’s secretary general recently,” Hussin remarked.

On related matter, Shafie again reiterated the need for MACC to investigate the matter as it involves national security.

Datuk Mohamed Shafie BP Mammal

“MACC had always asked the public to inform them if we suspect anything amiss. I have been making all sorts of statements now on the Subang Airport matter. So, what are they waiting for?” he asked.

Shafie added that Subang Airport was a strategic asset, with its’ operations integrated with KLIA 1 and KLIA 2, which may compromise crucial data if the former is acquired by a private entity.

With that, the veteran unionist questioned why the Government was giving importance on this deal when the country is plagued with other pressing matters.

“Scrap the deal. The Government should put its full focus on containing COVID-19, increasing testing capacity and speed up the National COVID-19 Immunisation Programme.

“And I suspect Subang Airport will not be the only one. If this deal goes through, vested interests may target to buy off other airports too,” Shafie remarked.

Meanwhile, a source told FocusM that the MOT and MOF would be delivering WCT Holdings proposal to the prime minister soon for further deliberation. – June 21, 2021

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