Tony Fernandes said with a little understatement on becoming Queens Park Rangers’ majority owner that he has “a communicative style”, and supporters will justifiably expect their club to be more approachable now, after the high-handedness of the Bernie Ecclestone and Flavio Briatore roadshow. Fernandes, who, with three partners, built AirAsia from a loss-making company with two planes to Malaysia’s version of EasyJet, has that modern businessman’s touch of talking to people and an appreciation of publicity, for himself – complete with famous Twitter account – and for his businesses.
Expressing all the right sentiments to soothe QPR fans’ sullen resentment over the price hikes that immediately followed May’s promotion to the Premier League, Fernandes, in an interview with the Guardian, was not all soft soap, however. He made no secret that he was motivated to buy QPR for £45m not only for the love of football, but as a sponsorship, marketing vehicle for AirAsia, where he remains a significant shareholder, and Malaysian Airlines, in which he and a partner more recently bought a 20% stake.
“Many people do not realise the power of sport to market a brand,” said Fernandes, whose Lotus Formula One team is sponsored by AirAsia, which also sponsored last year’s British Grand Prix and, for a time, Manchester United. “You can spend £40m on advertising and have nothing like the same effect. Around the world, everybody watches Premier League football.”
Through building up AirAsia, which has brought him decoration in several countries including a CBE here, his Formula One escapades and steady profile raising, Fernandes has become a public figure, whose career and success story have been serially told. Born in Kuala Lumpur, where he played the piano at the tupperware parties and conventions that made his mother’s fortune, he was educated in England, at the Epsom College boarding school, then the London School of Economics.
He qualified as an accountant and worked in the music industry for 14 years, including for Time Warner. He did not agree with the AOL merger in 2000, and left the company to do the deal that made his real fortune – buying the debt-laden AirAsia, with three partners, for a token one Malaysian ringgit in 2001.
He said he mortgaged his home and had just £250,000 to invest initially, but he and the partners reshaped AirAsia into a low-cost airline flying, according to its most recent annual report, 18 million passengers to 65 cities in Asia and around the world, turning over £790m and making a pre-tax profit of £200m. Tune Air, the company Fernandes and his partners formed to buy AirAsia, still owns 26%, and he said he sold shares in the airline to raise the cash to buy into QPR. Kamarudin Meranun, a co-investor, who will join the QPR board, is a longstanding Malaysian partner with Fernandes.
Prime Minister Dato’ Seri Mohd. Najib Tun Razak’s near shocking but extraordinary bold move to uphold the principles of democracy and human rights in the announcement of repealing the Internal Security Act and Emergency Ordinance. Although many felt it should have been done a long time ago but many of his backers seen as timely and moving with times.
No more ISA2011/09/16Najib announces legislative changes to boost democracy
KUALA LUMPUR: Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak yesterday announced an orderly “political transformation”, seeking the repeal of the Internal Security and Banishment acts.
He also said the government would look at making major amendments to the Printing Presses and Publications and Restricted Residence acts.
“As I promised in my inaugural speech when I first took over as prime minister on April 3, 2009, that the ISA would be reviewed comprehensively, I am glad to announce on this historic night that the ISA will be abolished.” To prevent subversive acts, planned acts of violence and terrorism, he said two new laws would be drafted to preserve public peace and order.
Najib said publications would also no longer need to renew their licences annually as they would now be valid until they were cancelled by the government.
The government will also be reviewing Section 27 of the Police Act 1967, which deals with freedom of assembly, which is guaranteed by Article 10 of the Federal Constitution.
However, Najib said the government still strongly held on to the principle that there should not be any street demonstration, but added that the specifics on the right to assemble would be established later by taking into account international norms.
Announcing the reforms in his Malaysia Day message last night, Najib said the government would not hesitate to amend or abolish any laws that were no longer relevant.
On the two new laws, he said the government would ensure the basic rights and freedoms of those involved were preserved.
“The new laws will have substantially shorter detention periods by the police and further extensions could only be done by a court order, but laws regarding terrorism will remain under the jurisdiction of the (home) minister.
“On another point, the government is also giving its commitment that no individuals will be detained solely for their political ideologies.” Generally, said Najib, the reforms meant that the power to extend the detention period was moving from the executive to the judiciary wings of the government, except where terrorism was concerned.
He also announced that the government would table a motion in Parliament to declare an end to all the states of emergency which had been announced before this.
(Only the emergency declared during the Confrontation with Indonesia had been officially ended.) Najib said this decision was made as the nation’s reality had now changed and the government felt the pulse of the people and also their aspirations in seeing a more dynamic democracy, on a par with other democracies in the world.
“It’s time Malaysians head towards a future with a new paradigm based on new hopes and not be held back by historic nostalgia.” Najib said in preparing the people to face unusual threats to the nation’s safety and well-being, special measures were needed, which sometimes seemed out of sync with democratic norms.
“This is a global reality and widely accepted. This is not something unusual or foreign.
“It is proven as countries like the United States and United Kingdom have drafted special laws to handle terrorists threats post-Sept 11.” He said the key point was to maintain a balance between national security and individual freedom.
For instance, he said the freedom of speech enshrined in the Federal Constitution did not mean that people could use it to slander or incite hatred.
Najib said Malaysia and its people were now at a crossroads and the choice they now made would determine the nation’s fate and also the shape of the nation that would be inherited by future generations.
“But the question is, are we able to go past our prejudices and can Malaysians from different backgrounds, socio-economic status and ideologies reach a consensus not to give in to hatred and suspicions that will lead down a valley of indignity?” He said the answers were clear and the steps that he had announced were the early initiatives of a political transformation for the nation.
A lot of others who are at awed too, felt otherwise.
Needless to say, the Opposition and activists who have been for years fighting for this are the parties who felt ‘morally victorious’ the most. Their leaders have been gloating on how PM Najib pandered to their demands, which is one of the glaring items encapsulated in their pre-12GE ‘Buku Jingga’ manifesto book.
Now that with the announcement as ‘gift’ for Malaysians to absolve the past ghosts of the phobia of warring communist terrorists’ atrocities within the Emergency (1948-1960) and post-Emergency insurgencies, PM Najib felt it is time for Malaysia to move on.
New laws would be introduced to safeguard the interests of national and internal security, replacing the ISA and EO. Stricter processes for detention, even for investigation and further information gathering would be included as mandatory requirements and the judiciary instead of the executive would have the power to decide for the detention.
The Opposition, same anti-ISA activists and other relevant stake holders would now have to come together with PM Najib and be part of the process to consult, plan, construct and enact these new laws. They have to put their political hat out of this and instead come through in the interest of the nation, first.
This challenge for them automatically comes in the same stroke of PM Najib’s initiative to change laws that previously never imagine dared to even critically discussed in the open.
Now that PM Najib has shown his true mettle of the man he is with real guts and ever willing to make bold drastic moves, we now would seriously want to see other changes. One of the damning issues of his administration is the ‘personality legacy’, which he carried through from PM ‘Flip-Flop’ Abdullah’s administration.
There are personalities have now proven to be a bane to PM Najib’s administration. The list is rather long but to sum it shortly, Cabinet Ministers such as Minister in Prime Minister’s Department Tan Sri Nor Mohamed Yackop and Minister in-charge of Propaganda and Multimedia Dato’ Seri Utama Dr Rais Yatim Ph.D. These are people who ought to leave PM Najib’s administration for quite a bit already.
This is not without ‘inducing’ for Gerakan President Tan Sri Koh Tsu Koon to throw in the towel too.
Then there is scandals-plagued Securities Commission Chairman Tan Sri Zarinah Anwar. Of course, Sime Darby Chairman Tun Musa Hitam also should be on the hit list, because of accountability issues. The nation cannot afford to move forward where government-controlled industry regulators and captains are of dubious aura. Especially if part of PM Najib’s ‘Economic Transformation Plan’ is centred on the business community and FDI driven industries, particularly in the services sector and capital markets.
PM Najib’s administration already saw the summarily change-over of several GLCs corporate personalities, namely Petronas CEO Tan Sri Hassan Merican, Sime Darby CEO Dato’ Seri Ahmad Zubir Murshid and the more recent, Malaysia Airlines CEO Tengku Dato’ Azmil Zahiruddin.
The ‘sell out’ of Malaysia Airlines a little over a month ago is also with PM Najib’s endorsement, as the Chairman of Khazanah Holdings Bhd.
Abuse of power, corruption and corporate governance are some of the damning issues which saw the rakyat sent very strong messages to PM ‘Flip-Flop’ Abdullah on 8 March 2008 12th general election and the ‘Political Tsunami’ where BN lost five-plus-one states and the two-third control of the Dewan Rakyat.
Several by-elections post 12GE also did not see the shift of the rakyat’s confidence back to BN. However, after almost two years after taking over as the sixth Prime Minister, PM Najib managed to slightly improve the confidence level with the recent wins of by-elections. Of course, other barometers also starting to show positive results for his transformation plans and ‘1 Malaysia’ concept of harnessing the best in every ethnic groups without the expense of the others.
Will PM Najib’s guts be consistent and now followed through for these personalities to be exited immediately, as part of his ‘transformation’. These new laws would take time to come to life but policy and corporate governance issues. Failure of him to act swiftly against all these ‘undesirable’ personalities now that the world has seen him to be bold and decisive might earn him the perspective of a ‘Flip-Flop’ leader.
We don’t want that now, do we?