AirAsia Boss Apologises – But Here’s Why Tony Fernandes Was Shedding Crocodile Tears

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May 14 2018
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AirAsia boss Tony Fernandes has apologised over his eye-popping support for former Prime Minister Najib Razak. In his video clip, he blames it on pressure from Najib government. He claims that he was asked to fire Rafidah Aziz as chairperson of AirAsia X when the former Iron Lady started getting involved in the then-opposition Pakatan Harapan campaign.


Mr. Fernandes said that he didn’t tell Rafidah to step down because according to him, it just wasn’t the right thing to do. After being so-called “public crucifixion”, Rafidah has since come to the AirAsia boss’ defence. Rafidah said Fernandes had refused her resignation. Cool, it appears Fernandes was a principled and brave man who would not surrender to tyrants.


Tony then revealed how he decided to do the right thing by offering people flights at a low fare – RM99 for flights in Peninsula Malaysia and RM129 for flights across the sea to East Malaysia – to enable them to go back and vote in the 14th general election. So he put 120 extra flights to carry 26,000 more people on top of the carrier’s normal flight.

AirAsia Tony Fernandes - Crocodile Tears

He said within 24 hours, the AirAsia management was summoned by the Malaysian Aviation Commission, Mavcom, and told to cancel all those flights. But how did the authorities know the promotional flights were meant to fly opposition supporters and not Najib’s supporters as well? Why didn’t Tony Fernandes argue from this angle with the authorities is beyond comprehension.


Fernandes then admitted of being a fool, when he ordered an AirAsia A330-300 aircraft to be given a new coating – painted with Najib’s Barisan Nasional election slogan “Hebatkan Negaraku (make my country greater).” Najib, together with some Sabah BN leaders, flew back to Kuala Lumpur from his 2-day visit to Sabah in the AirAsia jet. Rafidah didn’t know about the plane stunt though.


Did Najib or the Malaysian Aviation Commission force Tony Fernandes to repaint the A330-300 aircraft? Nope, it was his own idea and initiative to “appease” the former corrupt prime minister. But why did he try to suck up to Najib? Tony claims it was to protect the jobs of his employees. That’s incredibly noble. But did Najib ever threaten to close down AirAsia or AirAsia X?

AirAsia Tony Fernandes and Najib Razak - Seat

Najib Razak with AirAsia Tony Fernandes - Make My Country Greater

Nope, Mr Najib didn’t and would not dare to close down the low-cost airline because to do so will send thousands of employees jobless. Although Najib didn’t actually finish his study in England, he wasn’t ready to do something so terribly dumb. Most likely the sucking up drama was to save Fernandes’ own job rather than the jobs of the AirAsia’s employees.


It’s also not true that the AirAsia boss offered low fare flights primarily because he wanted to help the Malaysian voters. It was Hong Kong-based Cathay Pacific which started the marketing stunt first, when the carrier offered a waiver for rebooking and rerouting chargers for Malaysians travelling during the day of the general election. Inspired by Cathay, AirAsia took the cue and ran its own promotion.


Obviously, AirAsia’s low fare promotional stunt was due to business decision, not social responsibility. It would be a different and more convincing story had the airline carrier offered free seats. Besides repainting his aircraft to please Najib, Fernandes also took the trouble to strip AirAsia stewardesses red uniform for the blue, which is BN’s official colour.

AirAsia Tony Fernandes At Bentong - Support MCA Liow Tiong Lai and Lee Chong Wei

Fernandes’ so-called “under pressure” support for Najib’s Barisan Nasional didn’t end with repainting an AirAsia jet. He deliberately went to Bentong and together with badminton star Lee Chong Wei, lends support to their long-time friend, MCA president Liow Tiong Lai, on his campaign trail. Fernandes was also in Raub to support MCA vice-president Chew Mei Fun, was he not?


So, did Liow Tiong Lai also pressure Tony Fernandes by forcing him to play badminton in Pahang? Do you want more proof that the AirAsia boss apology was nothing but shedding crocodile tears? On 6 Mar, 2008 (that’s 10 years ago, dude), he gave support to Lembah Pantai parliamentary candidate Shahrizat Jalil, saying she was hardworking and committed to her constituency.


Speaking at the Barisan’s Speakers’ Corner in Bangsar Baru, Tony said – “I have really never seen anyone who works so hard, like her.” Shahrizat, of course, was none other than Barisan Nasional woman chief caught in the infamous “Cowgate Scandal”, a scandal which saw RM250 million funds meant for a cattle project being siphoned to buy condominiums, vacations and a Mercedes.

AirAsia Tony Fernandes Supporting Shahrizat – 6 Mar 2008

Again, did warlord Shahrizat pressure Tony Fernandes in 2008 to praise her? If she did, Tony surely didn’t apologise publicly because the Barisan Nasional won the 12th general election. He spoke as if he was the only business owner in Malaysia who was targeted by the corrupt Najib regime. There were others who had suffered worse but didn’t budge.


As revealed by new Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, many businessmen were discriminated and forced by Internal Revenue Board (IRB) under Najib’s instruction to cough out more taxes than were due, partly due to supporting the opposition parties. Mahathir said – “If they did not pay, they were punished and blacklisted, preventing them from leaving the country.”


Was Tony Fernandes’s so-called “under pressure” worse than those businessmen mentioned by Mahathir? After marrying his Korean girlfriend Chloe in France, it’s natural for him to be afraid of losing his wealth if he chooses to confront Najib. Its worth to note that Tony’s best man during his wedding was Nazir Razak (chairman of CIMB Group and brother of Najib Razak).

AirAsia Tony Fernandes & CIMB Nazir Razak – On GE14 Road Trip

The point is this – even if it was true that the authorities were breathing down his neck, Tony Fernandes can choose to become an obedient boy, comply with instructions not to offer low fare flights and keep quiet. He certainly didn’t need to repaint his aircraft, let alone took photo happily with Najib onboard the plane and sacrificed the airline air stewardesses’ uniform.


Only a rookie such as Syed Saddiq could be easily scammed by Tony Fernandes. The AirAsia boss definitely isn’t an “unsung hero”, as described by Saddiq. At best, Tony is a coward. At worst, he’s a traitor. He enjoys rubbing shoulders with the government of the day, no matter how corrupt they are. He apologises not because he really regretted what he had done. He is sorry for betting the wrong horse!


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