Dr M: Govt wants to sell Malaysia Airlines but retain its identity

Yiswaree Palansamy
Last week, Bernama reported Dr Mahathir as saying that Malaysia is willing to consider if there is a good offer for the company. — Reuters pic

KUALA LUMPUR, June 25 — Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said today that the government wants to retain the identity of Malaysia Airlines even if it were to sell the national flag carrier.

During a press conference today, Dr Mahathir lamented that despite the government’s best efforts to turn around the beleaguered Malaysia Airlines Berhad (MAB), it has often failed.

“So this time, we had to be a little bit more careful in the steps we take to resuscitate Malaysia Airlines. It’s not just a change of management. Lots of other things are wrong with the airline which has to be corrected.

“Ya, we would like to sell MAS, but we have to retain the identity as a Malaysian airline,” he added, using the old acronym by which the airlines is still called even after the rebranding.

In an interview with Bloomberg Television in Bangkok last week, Dr Mahathir said that the government would consider selling the national carrier “if there is a good offer”.

“We have changed their (Malaysian Airlines) leadership many times, each time, we were hoping they would do something to turn around the company but they failed (so) now we want to sell it, but if we sell (it) to people who will fail again, it is not worthwhile.

“We (the government) need to be very careful about choosing the buyer,” he said during a session titled “The Future of Malaysia and Asean” in conjunction with Asean Business Summit in Bangkok.

The airline was privatised in 2014 as part of a revival bid but continued its trend of heavy losses.

Malaysia Airlines suffered a massive blow to its image after Flight MH370 disappeared five years ago with 239 people on board.

In July the same year, it lost another plane, MH17, which was shot down over Ukraine.

A survey released earlier this year in March by YouGov Plan & Track, an international Internet-based market research and data analytics firm headquartered in the UK, revealed that the Malaysia Airlines brand is still seen in a positive light by locals amid debate over its potential sale or closure.

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