RECENT developments in the Malaysian aviation industry have raised critical questions about the effectiveness of regulatory oversight and the safety of public transportation.
The intertwined stories of i-Serve Online Mall Sdn Bhd and MYAirline Sdn Bhd underscore the pressing need to reevaluate the role of the Civil Aviation Authority of Malaysia (CAAM) in a rapidly evolving aviation landscape.
The i-Serve Online Mall case: A troubling connection
In November 2021, a joint enforcement operation led by Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) and other agencies resulted in the freezing of 45 bank accounts and the seizure of RM118.7 mil.
This operation was aimed at 22 premises linked to i-Serve Online Mall and its affiliates. It is of significant concern that among the shareholders of i-Serve Online Mall are Datuk Goh Hwan Hua and Trillion Cove Holdings Bhd (TCH).
In is reported that on Jan 27, 2022 i-Serve Online Mall Sdn Bhd and its affiliates are seeking a judicial review of Bank Negara Malaysia’s (BNM) asset freeze order issued against them last November under the Anti-Money Laundering, Anti-Terrorism Financing and Proceeds of Unlawful Activities Act 2001 (AMLATFPUA).
What makes this situation even more troubling is that MYAirline, a commercial airline, shares a connection with i-Serve Online Mall.
During MYAirline’s inception, the Companies Commission of Malaysia (SSM) data reveals that Zillion Wealth Bhd held an 88% stake, and Trillion Cove Holdings Bhd had a 10% equity interest. It is noteworthy that Goh, a director at Trillion Cove, has ties to both entities.
The MYAirline oversight failure: A serious safety concern
MYAirline’s recent case raises grave concerns about the due process of granting an air operator certificate (AOC) and the oversight’s inadequacy.
An AOC is a critical document, signifying that an airline meets the highest standards of operational safety, financial stability, and the capacity to ensure passenger safety.
However, the recent suspension of MYAirline’s operations just three days after the airline reportedly received a two-year AOC extension demonstrates a significant oversight in the vetting process.
If the extension is true, the oversight potentially poses a severe risk to public safety. Airlines facing financial limitations may resort to compromising safety measures to cut costs.
This case underscores the urgent need to thoroughly vet the financial and legal standing of major shareholders, particularly for airlines operating large commercial aircraft.
Reevaluating CAAM’s role: A call to action
The oversight and regulation of the aviation industry are of paramount importance for the safety of passengers and the reputation of the nation’s aviation sector.
The aviation industry is rapidly evolving, with emerging technologies such as Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) and drone deliveries worth billions of USD.
In light of these recent developments, it is imperative that CAAM revisits and enhances its role in regulating and ensuring the safety and financial integrity of airlines operating in Malaysia.
This is a matter of utmost urgency, as the failure to do so not only jeopardises passenger safety but also threatens Malaysia’s standing in the ever-evolving global aviation landscape.
The recent incidents surrounding MYAirline should serve as a wake-up call for all stakeholders in the aviation industry.
Malaysia must ensure that its aviation regulatory body, CAAM, is equipped to meet the growing demands of this sector, maintain rigorous oversight, and uphold the highest standards of safety and financial integrity. – Oct 13, 2023
Dr Julian KP Tan is a former Stampin MP. He currently serves as a researcher and consultant at Taylor’s University in the fields of aerospace and defence, specialising in unmanned aerial systems and robotics.
The views expressed are solely of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Focus Malaysia.
Main pic credit: CAAM