AIR ASIA- THE DEATH OF AN AIRLINE?

AIR ASIA QZ 8501- BACKGROUND TO A DISASTER

A recent comment by the editor of this blog, published on Che Det (the Tun Dr. Mahathir’s blog) about a report that Tony Fernandez of AirAsia apologized and issued a statement to the media  “accepting (full) responsibility” for the recent Air Asia tragedy drew sharp criticism from sectors of the public. Much of the criticism  in our view is misplaced for the perception that  we were attacking Tony Fernandez, Air Asia’s CEO. Fernandez is a man whose popularity and folk hero status is only matched by his flamboyance and AirAsia’s commercial successes.

Fernandez knows how to ride the crest of a wave. In his case that wave was amongst other things his association with Sir Richard Branson.

Along with his associations came the idea of cheap no frills flying, a fresh approach to marketing, personalizing his product AirAsia, stamping it with the identities of the people who make it fly (and in this instance those who make it crash as well). Then there is Fernandez’s ownership of English football team Queens Park Rangers. All good so far. A real text book approach as was recently described by Caroline Sapriel, managing director of CS&A, a firm that specializes in advising clients on disaster management.

Nothing it seems could stop the company having $200 million wiped off its value on the stock market in a short time though. We suspect this to be the result of Tony Fernandez’s premature ‘mea culpa’.  The shareholders now speak.

WAS AIRASIA OPERATING A PIRATE AIR TAXI?-RED FLAGS, SIRENS AND WHISTLES

Not long after our contribution to Che Det on this matter was published (two days later) Indonesian authorities issued a statement in which it questioned whether the pilot had followed correct weather procedures during the ill fated flight.

Later in the same day the Indonesians issued a further statement about suspending AirAsia’s (Indonesia) Surabaya to Singapore flights, saying ‘the airline’s operating license only permitted flights on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays’.

The question that arises in light of the official statements issued by Indonesian aviation authorities about AirAsia flight QZ 8501 now is this: Was someone operating an unauthorized flight within AirAsia Indonesia? If so how did Surabaya control allow the flight to take off in these circumstances?

Djoko Murdjatmodjo, Indonesia’s acting Director General of Air Transportation, said on Saturday 3 January 2015 that “the Transport Ministry would investigate other routes used by the carrier, which flies from at least 15 Indonesian destinations“.

Is the acting Director General of Air Transportation Indonesia by his statement suggesting that AirAsia is suspected of undertaking unauthorized flights out of other cities it operates in and if so how many and by what means? “We are going to investigate all AirAsia flight schedules. Hopefully we can start on next Monday,” he said. “It is possible AirAsia’s license in Indonesia might be revoked,” he added.

If AirAsia’s license is revoked that may indeed sound the death knell of what was once perceived to be a great airline. “It is without question”, an Indian aviation ministry official when asked and who spoke on condition of anonymity said “that we will be checking with all countries in which AirAsia has been flying to vet their compliance with international aviation practices and with regional laws and procedures”.

SHORT CUTS, DISASTERS AND THE ASIAN WAY OF BUSINESS

Garuda Indonesia and Philippine Airlines for a number of years had restrictions placed on them flying directly into Europe and the US because of their very poor record of maintaining standards and in meeting compliance sufficient to satisfy international aviation guidelines,protocols and benchmarks.

Audits on both Garuda, Philippines Airlines and in fact all Indonesian and Philippines domestic carriers found serious breaches of compliance, flaws in reporting, short cuts in maintenance and fault reporting, falsification of documentation, poor aircraft maintenance (no maintenance in many cases to save on costs) the use of diluted fuel and over worked staff some reported to be doing up to three shifts in a single daily roster.

It is widely believed by aviation experts that, these same malpractices and breaches of international air safety standards AirAsia now, Garuda and Philippine Airlines before it stand accused of, may in fact be far more widespread that is admitted to or acknowledged by aviation authorities in south east Asia.

Airlines regularly flying the same routes in the region flown by AirAsia are going undetected in their breaches. Business models like that of AirAsia’s in allowing full autonomy to regional partners to manage their operations of the AirAsia business, makes monitoring compliance full time by head office difficult if not impossible.

UNAUTHORISED FLIGHTS-UNOFFICIAL SANCTIONS AND THE ASIAN WAY

An aviation expert from the US reinforced comments made by Indonesian authorities in suggesting that the AirAsia flight that crashed QZ 8501 may have been unauthorized. As QZ 8501 carried many Indonesians of ethnic Chinese descent, (a very wealthy and influential minority group in Indonesia), the flight could well have been ‘unofficially sanctioned’ in Surabaya.

Unofficial sanctioning is a common practice in Indonesia and in many Asian countries. It simply involves paying off an official or officials to authorize an unauthorized act.

In the specific case of flight QZ 8501 the Surabaya Singapore flight may have been ‘unofficially sanctioned‘ (out of schedule) for the convenience of wealthy passengers.This would have involved administrative intervention, altering the status of the flight from one of (non) scheduled flight to that of a charter flight.

In unofficially sanctioning the flight  this way, the aircraft bearing the AirAsia livery could then fly its passengers to Singapore ( who in a bizarre twist, say the flight was authorised to land in Singapore on a Sunday) as a scheduled AirAsia flight  on a date it was not scheduled to fly.

Sunu Widyatmoko, Indonesia AirAsia chief, told reporters the airline, which is 49-percent owned by Malaysia-based AirAsia , would cooperate with the inquiry. “The government has suspended our flights from Surabaya to Singapore and back,” he said. “They are doing the evaluation process. AirAsia will cooperate fully with the evaluation.

Lets hope that the slogan “now everyone can fly” does not end up being “now everyone is dying to fly” in the wake of what is seen as an avoidable and preventable tragedy involving a first class airline.

The practice of “unofficial sanctioning” according to many, is what governments and businesses in south east Asia term “the Asian way” of doing business.

TONY FERNANDEZ & AIRASIA- WHERE LINES ARE BLURRED

It is widely reported that Tony Fernandez CEO of AirAsia issued an apology “accepting (full) responsibility” for the accident (by implication of what he said and the context in which his statements were reported).

There are many who believe Tony Fernandez owns AirAsia. There those who believe that an apology and ‘accepting (full) responsibility’ for an accident by the CEO of the company is the right thing to do in the circumstances.

It is also a widely held belief by many that an early acknowledgement of responsibility would help to reduce the prospects of the AirAsia tragedy turning into a bigger (PR) disaster for the airline and for its reputation.

With the benefit of hindsight this is not an unreasonable view to adopt, considering the disastrous handling of the public relations and media briefings by government appointed spokespeople in the MH 370 and MH 17 disasters.

There is merit and much to be said for good PR and effective communication with a grieving public delivered by people at the top immediately after the event. Full and frank disclosure helps. Accepting responsibility does not on any view help the Airline or its image so soon after the event without the benefits of the full facts behind the crash.

WHERE TONY FERNANDEZ ENDS- WHERE AIRASIA BEGINS

Tony Fernandez does not own AirAsia. The shareholders of who he is one, own the airline. Fernandez is a major and significant shareholder and founder of the airline. AirAsia is the property of a public corporation.

The airline is indelibly stamped with the identity and persona of Tony Fernandez founder of AirAsia and he with it. And thus far that relationship and public perception of the two in one has endured successfully over a decade and half.

One entity (Fernandez) is indistinguishable from the other (the corporation) in the public’s perception (till now).

Fernandez also enjoys folk hero status amongst not only Malaysians, but also amongst Britons, south east Asians, China and people in the Indian sub-continent where AirAsia operates in one form or the other.

It seemed for a while that nothing could go wrong for him or his airline. And from all accounts he deserves much praise for the airline’s success and for its good public image.

THE CRASH AND ITS CONSEQUENCES FOR THE AIRLINE

On Sunday 28 December 2014 the dream came crashing down over the Java sea in what was perhaps the most dreaded event in the life of any airline operator .

Western journalists went to town reporting that a “Malaysian Airlines AirAsia airbus” had gone missing over the Java sea. Very few amongst them could distinguish between the official flag carrier of Malaysia, Malaysian Airlines (MAS) and the private sector owned AirAsia and it was only a few days later that some bothered to check their facts and get the story right.

Another Malaysian Airlines plane goes down” screamed the headlines over the airwaves and front pages of western media outlets. There was a careful and deliberate avoidance of any reference to Virgin Airlines or of any mention of Sir Richard Branson and any connection to AirAsia lest the fall out should infect the reputation of Virgin Airlines.

The point seemed lost on many. A friend in need indeed is Virgin and Sir Richard Branson.

WHAT’S IN A WORD (OR WORDS)

The point we sought to raise in Che Det that appears to have escaped the comprehension of many readers is that by “accepting responsibility” for the problem”( i.e. the crash of the airliner AirAsia flight QZ 8501) Fernandez necessarily acknowledges and accepts the burden of legal responsibility for the consequences that flow from his “acceptance of responsibility” as the airline’s CEO.

It was a dangerous and premature acceptance of responsibility on the part of Fernandez speaking for the airline AirAsia. And the market appears to have taken note of that acceptance of responsibility. All $200 million of it.

The reason we say so is this: The cause of the crash has not yet been established. The recovery operations to find the wreckage of the aircraft, its black box and the cockpit voice recorder have not yet been completed let alone located. To have “accepted (full) responsibility” in these circumstances before any other official, forensic and scientific finding is made is simply suicidal. It says something about culpability.

Where was Tony Fernandez’s lawyers, where was his ‘well oiled’ PR machine?

WHY ANY ACCEPTANCE OF RESPONSIBILITY MUST WAIT FOR THE FACTS

The Asian media may forgive Fernandez (as should the rest of us) as his reported statement must have been a spontaneous heartfelt comment by a grieving CEO and an honest slip at that made by the man in the heat and emotion of such a disaster. However to make such an admission (which is what this is) by “accepting (full) responsibility” for something for which responsibility cannot yet be apportioned to, is a statement insurance companies, relatives and lawyers who will inevitably become a part of the gouging process in the aftermath of this tragedy would love to hear.

Many may already have picked up on Fernandez’s acceptance of responsibility statement. Where were his legal advisors? Where was his well oiled media PR machine?

An acceptance of responsibility has the effect of reducing an insurers liability if not partly at least, then wholly.

There are then the relatives of the passengers and the owners of cargo QZ 8501 who have an interest and a right to sue the Airline who will not ignore the acceptance of (full) responsibility by AirAsia’s CEO to consider.

What impacts his words will have on the immediate and long term future of the airline is yet to be determined.

CONTAINMENT AND BIAS IN THE MEDIA vs SELF INFLICTED INJURY

QANTAS has had four aircraft technical failures in the air whereby aircraft had to return to base in a matter of one month in December 2014. Nothing in the international press. That’s PR. That’s containment.

A Greek cruise ship caught fire off the Adriatic coast also in December 2014. The media reported 10 dead. The magistrate conducting the inquiry now in Italy has established 98 not accounted for in addition to the 10 confirmed dead. Thats clever use of language. 98 missing could be 98 dead meaning 108 deaths altogether. But by using the art of containment without lying, the cruise operator’s PR said 10 dead (confirmed) 98 unaccounted for (not dead). The impact on public perceptions of an otherwise disastrous event is obvious.

A ship was deliberately steered onto shallow waters and to rocks and is listing badly in Northern Scotland .4 people confirmed dead. Nothing is said of it. No apology issued no acknowledgement of responsibility as in the case with the Greek cruise ship.

Paying huge sums of money to western based PR companies is never the answer. Common sense is.

AirAsia’s crash of the Surabaya to Singapore flight is yet another example as to what could happen when airlines (MAS) are privatized and short cuts and profit take over as the overriding consideration.

Comments
15 Responses to “AIR ASIA- THE DEATH OF AN AIRLINE?”
  1. IT.Scheiss says:

    The Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) had approved the Indonesia Air Asia’s Sunday flights from Surabaya to Singapore and Singapore to Surabaya, the Straits Times reports.

    “Indonesia AirAsia had applied to operate a daily flight between Surabaya and Singapore, arriving at Changi Airport at 8.30am and departing for Surabaya at 2.10pm.”

    “The application was made for the period from October 26 to March 28.”

    “CAAS said on Saturday: “These daily flights were approved as there were available air traffic rights under the bilateral air services agreement and the slots at Changi Airport were available.”

    http://www.straitstimes.com/news/asia/south-east-asia/story/airasia-flight-qz8501-caas-says-approval-surabaya-singapore-flight-w

    It is curious why PT Indonesia AirAsia, legally a majority Indonesian owned airline company registered in Indonesia, relies on approval for that set of flights from the Singapore civil aviation authority and the strength of a bilateral agreement between the two countries.

    Also, even if the CAAS had approved that set of flights, don’t the Indonesian civil aviation authorities and Surabaya airport have to accept it as well, based upon their own landings and take offs slots, parking bay slots and so forth?

    The thought had crossed my mind too that if the flight on that fateful day did not have official approval, it would give insurance the opportunity to refuse to pay, just like they could refuse to pay for a car which had an accident the day after its road tax had expired, even if the driver’s driving license and the car’s insurance were still valid.

    This also makes a stronger case should the families of the pasengers who perished to sue the airline.

    Then there is the recent report of the take off of another Indonesia Air Asia flight from Surabaya to Bandung being aborted due to engine trouble whilst taxiing before takeoff and the plane returning to the terminal.

    “AirAsia plane engine dies just before takeoff from Surabaya, passengers told to disembark”

    http://www.straitstimes.com/news/asia/south-east-asia/story/airasia-plane-engine-dies-just-takeoff-surabaya-passengers-told-dise

    Had the engine failed during takeoff and if the plane had crashed, for sure Indonesia would have grounded all Air Asia flights or even revoked its operation license , which would have been a serious blow to Air Asia.

    Like

    • grkumar says:

      Indonesia’s civil air transportation board is the responsible entity and authority to determine whether AirAsia had the authority to fly out of Surabaya. Their statement is that AirAsia did not have the authority under its current license to fly on a Sunday on the route it flew.

      Singapore is only one of two legs on that route. It may have approved the route from its end, but that alone cannot justify the airline flying out of Surabaya.

      On one reading of the facts, the Indonesians may be acting with as much haste and in the interests of self preservation as Tony Fernandez did in his acceptance of full responsibility.

      Our article focuses on the dangers of making statements of the nature Tony Fernandez made before all the facts had come to light or a forensic examination of the wreckage made.

      Any crash is a serious blow to the airline concerned. How it recovers depends on how one deals with public perceptions.

      SIA had a crash that killed over 150 in Taiwan on take off in rain a decade or so ago. Its subsidiary Silk Air had a pilot suicide in Sumatera which killed all on board. Yet SIA is perceived to be one of the world’s safest and most preferred airlines to fly in and it continues as if nothing ever occurred.

      Like

      • IT.Scheiss says:

        Yes. I had posted that before I read elsewhere that the bilateral agreement requires agreement by both parties – i.e. Indonesia and Singapore on authorisation of each flight between airports in the respective countries.

        I also get your point about admission of responsibility. It is like the advice to not readily admit your fault should you get into a road accident but to leave it to the police investigators and perhaps the court.

        Perhaps Tony Fernandes should have used other words, such as “We will make every effort to help the victims and their families and are treatingthis unfortunate incident with utmost urgency” or something like that.

        Anyway, whatever is said in public cannot be unsaid, so let us see what direction this takes.

        Meanwhile, Air Asia’s share price on the KLSE is down five sen right now, which is not that bad a drop.

        Like

  2. grkumar says:

    Scheiss Tony Fernandez to the point of the air crash appeared to run a “well oiled” PR machine and a solid team at Air Asia. On another view he simply came to attention with an idea whose time had come. Luck? I would not like to ascribe something like Air Asia’s success to luck alone.
    However when one looks at how things are unfolding, one begins to wonder how this whole miracle of AirAsia sustained itself thus far.

    The true test of ones competence and efficiency is at a time like this when the blow torch is put to one’s belly.

    A well oiled machine has its CEO and everyone else in check, statements are vetted by legal teams and written by copywriters for effect and impact. It appears that the one man “I am Moses” may have overtaken the trained economist accountant riding the crest of a seemingly unstoppable juggernaut of success in south east Asia where anything goes if one has the money and the right contacts. Of course the rest of the world suffers from the same fate too in commerce.

    Lets hope and pray that all of the emergent down side in this affair is simply self serving survivalist rhetoric.

    Like

    • IT.Scheiss says:

      Agreed, Tony slipped on this one, perhaps on the spur of the moment.

      Perhaps he ate too much of his own dogfood, as the saying goes.

      Like you, I do not look upon Tony as some kind of demi-god, as some Malaysian do.

      Like

  3. The Surabaya-Singapore route has the approval of thr Singapore authorities, more credible than the corrupt Indonesian Transport Ministry.

    Tony F owns half of Tune Air Sdn Bhd which holds 20 per cent of the shares of Air Asia Malaysia.

    Air Asia operations outside Malaysia are franchise operations with the majority shares held by locals but the control and management in the hands of Air Asia Malaysia.

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    • IT.Scheiss says:

      If the rule of the game requires approval on both sides then it requires approval on both sides.

      If you sign an agreement with someone on something and you sign on the dotted line but the other party has not signed, then the agreement is not yet valid, irrespective of the credibility of either side.

      Same with two countries which sign a bilateral trade agreement with each other on tariff waivers on certain types of goods. If one party has not signed, then the agreement is not valid.

      In this case, PT Indonesia Air Asia apparently had not got the OK from the Indonesian side and if it in fact had, then produce the authorisation document from the Indonesian side andthis question will be laid to rest. It’s that simple.

      And if the Indonesian authorities are that corrupt as you allege, then why does Air Asia not just refuse to operate in Indonesia.

      And if as you say, Air Asia Malaysia has full control over the operations of its Indonesian unit or franchisee, then it is in a worse position than if only its Indonesian unit is to blame.

      What penalties the Indonesian authorities may impose on AirAsia will pale in significance to the the effects of insurance refusing pay for the loss of the plane and crew based upon the official validity or invalidity of the flight on a Sunday, and the litigation which could follow within the next few weeks or months.

      And as GKR pointed out quite rightly, by accepting full responsibility of AirAsia this incident beforeall the evidence is unearthed, it puts AirAsia in a doubly difficult position legally.

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  4. Tamara Terry says:

    Is this time below the only time Air Asia is allowed to fly on Sunday? I remember I read somewhere (think it was a family that missed this flight because they didn’t read their e-mail saying it was departing two hours earlier than they thought) this flight was supposed to take off at 7:30 a.m. and was re-scheduled to take off two hours earlier than that. An Air Asia employee told the family that Santa may have just given them the best present of all when they missed their flight. Definitely true.

    “Indonesia AirAsia had applied to operate a daily flight between Surabaya and Singapore, arriving at Changi Airport at 8.30am and departing for Surabaya at 2.10pm.”

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    • grkumar says:

      Air Asia from all accounts as relayed by Indonesian civil aviation authorities did not have permission, clearance or authority to fly out of Surabaya on a Sunday. It may have applied to fly on Sundays out of Surabaya to Singapore but there is no indication that the right to fly out of Surabaya on Sundays to Singapore was in fact granted. There is much yet to surface on the operational compliance of Indonesia AirAsia.

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      • IT.Scheiss says:

        Well, this Jakarta Post report is not good news for AirAsia.
        =============================================

        KPK steps into AirAsia flight case
        Haeril Halim and Nadya Natahadibrata, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | Headlines | Wed, January 07 2015, 9:14 AM

        Following the revelation that the crashed AirAsia flight QZ8501 might have obtained a flying permit outside of proper procedures, the country’s antigraft body is offering help to probe into the possibility of bribery having been practiced in the case.

        The Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) is ready to help the Transportation Ministry to curb alleged irregularities that might lead to corruption or bribery practices plaguing flying permits in the country’s aviation system, the agency’s deputy chairman Bambang Widjojanto said on Tuesday.

        He said the agency would establish communications with the ministry to find out whether AirAsia had eased its way to obtain flying permits by bribing state officials.

        The KPK said that it encouraged the ministry to file a formal report to the antigraft body should its investigation, currently underway, find an indication that corruption or bribery took place during the permit process.

        “The KPK will coordinate with the Transportation Ministry to clarify the [AirAsia flying permit] matter. We need to know what it is about and whether it is subject to maladministration or subject to an indication of corruption,” Bambang said on Tuesday.

        If later the KPK jumps in to investigate the alleged irregularities, which was described by former National Transportation Safety Committee (KNKT) investigator Ruth Hanna Simatupang as a jungle of irregularities, it will be the first crackdown conducted on the aviation sector.

        “It [the flying permit] is just one of the problems in the jungle of our aviation system. There are a lot of problems that need to be fixed in our aviation system,” Hanna said.

        Meanwhile, the Transportation Ministry and state navigation operator AirNav Indonesia suspended three more officials allegedly involved in allowing AirAsia flight QZ8501 to take off without a permit.

        Transportation Minister Ignasius Jonan said that on Tuesday the ministry suspended Juanda International Airport’s head of safety and airworthiness, who was also in charge of the airport’s slot coordination.

        “We not only ordered the suspension of aviation officials, we also imposed sanctions on officials at the ministry. We give no tolerance.”

        AirNav president director Bambang Tjahjono said that the operator had removed two top operation officials from their positions following the order by the minister to suspend officials deemed responsible for allowing AirAsia to take off without the correct permits.

        “The removal was not because we found these officers guilty. This is only for the sake of the investigation,” Bambang said. “If they are later found innocent, we will return them to their posts,” said the former Transportation Ministry airport director.

        PT Angkasa Pura I (AP I), the operator of Juanda International Airport, had previously removed its operation manager and apron movement control supervisor from their posts following the order from the ministry on Monday.

        Flight QZ8501, carrying 162 people to Singapore from Indonesia’s second-biggest city, Surabaya, was officially announced missing two and a half hours after it took off at 5:36 a.m. on Dec. 28. The government decided to suspend all AirAsia flights between Surabaya and Singapore, explaining that the flight lacked a permit.

        AirAsia Indonesia was licensed to fly from Surabaya to Singapore every Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. But in October, the airline revised its schedule to fly on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday, without the required permission from the ministry.

        Air Asia Indonesia safety and security director Achmad Sadikin previously denied the flight was illegal.

        Jonan said that he had communicated with AirAsia Group CEO Tony Fernandes regarding the airline’s Surabaya-Singapore route suspension. “He admitted the misconduct and accepted our decision to suspend the route,” Jonan said. “AirAsia can reapply for the route after the investigation is done,” he continued.

        Jonan clarified that the ministry’s action to immediately suspend the route was not aimed at blaming AirAsia’s misconduct as a reason behind the crash.

        “We will announce on Friday whether we found other airlines operating without proper permits.”

        Jonan said the ministry would cooperate with the National Police’s Criminal Investigation Division to follow up on the findings, given allegations of foul play surrounding the flight licensing.

        The minister said that he would also support the KPK launching an investigation into the ministry.

        The ministry also denied earlier reports that it had suspended 16 flights, including those of AirAsia and rival airline Lion Air, for allegedly lacking flying permits.

        According to Jonan, the lastest suspension only involved AirAsia’s Palembang-Medan route.

        Meanwhile, the ministry will revise tariff regulations for low-cost carriers (LCC) in order for airline operators to earn sufficient income to improve safety.

        http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2015/01/07/kpk-steps-airasia-flight-case.html

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  5. grkumar says:

    I think what you mean to say is that this is not good for Indonesia. This is a little to little a little too late. Indonesia saying it is going to investigate corruption and bribery in the aviation sector is like the south east Asian Chinese saying they are going to stand in a queue and wait patiently for their turn to do or receive something that is open to the public, or Henry Kissinger calling for an inquiry into American brutality in Irak or Modi saying he will impartially investigate the murder of 2000 Muslims in Gujarat.

    Corruption is not only endemic in Indonesia it is bigger than government there which is the cosmetic veneer of respectability that allows Indonesians to interact with the rest of the civilized world.

    It is unfortunate that AirAsia took the bait and invested in this regulatory cess pool we call Indonesia without having in place first those measures that would have allowed them to pull the plug on the slightest suspicion of Indonesians behaving like Indonesians.

    This is the country where a western installed and supported butcher murdered over 3,000,000 of his own people on the pretext of getting rid of communism. They bought their way to respectability and international legitimacy as a government their hands dripping with blood. And guess what? Singapore banked their leaders.

    Tony Fernandez could have borrowed the manual on how to deal with Indonesia from Singapore or Australia where on of its recent Prime Ministers Paul Keating called the butcher Suharto “Bapak”.

    One mistake too many Tony. One destination too costly, one crash too fatal.

    Like

    • IT.Scheiss says:

      No denial that corruption is endemic in Indonesia. I remember when I was in line at Soekarno-Hatta airport in 1995 how a Malaysian who presumably had exceeded his annual visa free entry quota put RM100 on the immigration counter and the immigration officer let him in, whilst leaving the RM100 on his counter, visible to all.

      When I joined an American semiconductor assembly plant in Senawang in 1980, I learned that our sister plant in Indonesia had an employee who took care of bribing customs to quickly clear consignments of materials parts being brought in to be assembled and completed items being shipped out.

      Yes, these anti-graft measures may be window dressing on the part of Indonesia but as you rightly said, Tony Fernandes may have stepped into a cesspit which he may well later regret.

      Anyway, as the Indonesian government has the upper hand over here, so this news does not look good for Air Asia.

      Anyway, corruption seems to be present in many developing economies, perhaps due to their feudal legacy, where patronage of the feudal lords lingers in new forms, despite many of these countries having done away with the feudal lords of old and having replaced them with politicians repesenting rich and powerful interests behind a facade of liberal democratic institutions and processes.

      After all, what is politics in the Republic of the Philippines all about, if not constant jostling for political power by various wealthy families and clans.

      When the culture of corruption and patronage pervades most of society, it will be very hard to eradicate and if one wants to do business in such an environemt, what choice has one got but to play ball with the system there.

      There also is speculation that the Indonesian owned airlines may be using this as an opportunity to drive Air Asia out of Indonesia.

      Perhaps it will take the second coming of Christ to end it all, or Lord Kalki riding a white horse and slaying all evil-doers with his sword.

      Like

      • grkumar says:

        Lion Air the Airline that crashes more often than it actually stays in the air has ordered over $1 billion worth of aircraft. Singapore has given it clearance for new flights there. It is still on Europe’s and the US’s black list.

        Europe and the US are corrupt places as well but they know where to draw the line.

        Like

  6. IT.Scheiss says:

    “Europe and the US are corrupt places as well but they know where to draw the line.”

    Yes, corruption in a more subtle and opportunistic way.

    However, Singapore has not banned AirAsia, just that it hasn’t banned Lion Air.

    With regards Soehartoo and the massacre of 3 million including many leftists and communists, this was backed by U.S. imperialism in furtherance of its Cold War geo-strategy against China and the Soviet Union.

    President Soekarno, who was ousted in Soeharto’s crackdown was an Indonesian patriot and independence fighter who tended to be left aligned and it would have not look good for Soeharto to kill the father of Indonesia’s independence.

    Singapore’s and Australia’s leadership after all were stooges of the British at the time and now the U.S. so what else to expect from them.

    I do not see how two commercial entities like Air Asia and Lion Air fit into the much bigger picture of imperialist manouvering for political and economic domination.

    Anyway, even had Soeharto and his military allies been defeated in that conflict, would Indonesia be significantly less corrupt?

    After all, there is corruption, cronyism, nepotism in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos as well, despite officially being communist countries, so by how would Indonesia be difefrent had the PKI and the leftists won?

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