High Value Economy and Richer Government, Now

The future has arrived. Malaysia, eventually reached the ‘High value economy’ status head of schedule. In not so many words, Fourth Prime Minister Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad said this when he is asked to comment the recent Malaysian Government VVIP jet controversy.

I did not need big jets but maybe Putrajaya now has more money to splurge, says Dr Mahathir

JANUARY 09, 2014
LATEST UPDATE: JANUARY 09, 2014 05:08 PM

Malaysia’s longest-serving Prime Minister, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad (pic), said he had no need for a big luxury jet during his tenure but felt the current government may have more funds and as such, was in a position to indulge in such luxuries.

Dr Mahathir said during his 22 years as prime minister, he had even downgraded his jet during the early years of his tenure when there was a slump in the economy.

“In 1981, I inherited a Boeing 737 from the previous PM. He had problems travelling so I can understand why he has to have a big plane.

“I used the plane for a short while and I asked them what is the cost. They told me it will cost the government RM2 million a year. Then we sold  the plane, I need a small plane. So it was reduced to a Challenger,” he told reporters after being interviewed in conjunction with his 10 years of retirement.

Last year, the Prime Minister’s Department told Parliament that Putrajaya now owns at least seven planes, including a Boeing Business Jet.

The aircraft are for use by VVIPs including the Yang di-Pertuan Agong and the prime minister. They comprised a Falcon, Global Express, Boeing Business Jet, Blackhawk, two Augustas and a Fokker F28.

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Shahidan Kassim last year told the Parliament in 2013 that Putrajaya spent RM14.95 million for fuel and RM160.08 million for maintenance of the jets.

Dr Mahathir remarked that the small fleet of planes should not be an issue today.

“The government is much richer than during my time, then maybe they should upgrade” he said.

Putrajaya’s jets attracted the attention of pro-Umno bloggers last week who demanded to know if Najib’s two luxury jets are in service, as an Airbus ACJ320 was reportedly leased to the government.

Putrajaya replied that the lease of the Airbus ACJ320, which began on February 1, 2013, ended on December 31 last year. It said the lease was necessary as the government faced a shortage of jets. – January 9, 2014.

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That is a typical sarcasm from the Statesman, incase any of the PMO officials who are supposed to handle media and communications completely missed the punt.

During the Bajet 2014 debate in November 2013, Minister in Prime Minister’s Department Dato’ Seri Shahidan Kassim said in Dewan Rakyat that the Federal Government spent more than RM181 million in rental and maintenance cost to provide VVIP travel using executive jets for His Majesty Seri Paduka Yang DiPertuan Agong and Prime Minister of Malaysia.

PMO: Jets not just for PM, Airbus rental to plug shortage

JANUARY 4, 2014

The Najib administration had been hit by friendly fire this week after several pro-Umno bloggers criticised its spending on a provate jet to ferry government officials on domestic and overseas trips after slashing subsidies and urging Malaysians to tighten their belts. — Picture by Saw Siow FengThe Najib administration had been hit by friendly fire this week after several pro-Umno bloggers criticised its spending on a provate jet to ferry government officials on domestic and overseas trips after slashing subsidies and urging Malaysians to tighten their belts. — Picture by Saw Siow Feng

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 4 — Under fire from pro-Umno bloggers, the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) has defended the rental of an Airbus ACJ A320 last year as a necessity security measure to plug a shortage of government aircraft to fly the King and other government leaders on official trips.

In a statement published by several news companies today, the PMO said the government had previously owned five jets — the ACJ A319, BBJ, Fokker F28, Global Express and Falcon 900 — which were for not just for the use of the prime minister, but also to accommodate the Yang Di-Pertuan Agong, state governors, ministers and their deputies, senior government bureaucrats and other dignitaries, including foreign guests of the government on official business.

“Use of the special aircrafts enable the head of state and the head of government to move domestically and abroad with greater security.

“Apart from that, members of the administration who are busy with various work will not be bound by commercial airline schedules besides taking into consideration national image and interests,” the statement said.

The PMO justified the government’s decision to rent another aircraft after three of the five were grounded.

It said that one of the jets, a Fokker F28, was decommissioned in August 2012 as it was past 30 years of age, and had not been replaced.

It added that last year, two other airplanes, the BBJ and ACJ319, were sent in for their scheduled mandatory maintenance, which further compunded the shortage problem as the checks took longer than expected.

“In line with that, the Prime Minister’s Department, which is responsible for the management of the Government’s special aircrafts, decided to rent another ACJ A320 aircraft to accommodate the lack of aircrafts.

“This ACJ A320 was rented between 1 February – 31 December 2013 after it was found that the BBJ required more time for maintenance,” it said.

The Najib administration had been hit by friendly fire this week after several pro-Umno bloggers criticised its spending on a provate jet to ferry government officials on domestic and overseas trips after slashing subsidies and urging Malaysians to tighten their belts.

The statement from the PMO also appeared to differ slightly from the government’s reply on the number of aircrafts it owns.

In a written reply to Seremban MP Anthony Loke last November, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim said the government owns and operates six private jets known as Government Executive Jets (VVIP).

They include one unit of Falcon jet, one Global Express, one Boeing Business Jet, one Blackhawk, and two Agusta jets.

Shahidan also revealed that the government spent more than RM180 million for fuel and maintenance to fly private for official trips in 2012.

“For the cost of fuel for all aircrafts used in 2012 is RM14,951,448 and RM167,079,541.80 was spent on maintenance costs,” he said in his written reply on November 7, 2013.

In October 013, Shahidan said in a written parliamentary reply to Taiping MP Nga Kor Ming that Putrajaya spends RM28.8 million in annual rental and RM5.5 million to maintain the VVIP government jet ACJ319, the private aircraft used to ferry prime ministers much like the Air Force One in the US.

“To ensure the VVIP government jet ACJ319 remain in a good condition and has the highest level of safety, the government has spent US$25.2 million (RM80.12 million) in rental costs, RM16.52 million for maintenance and RM3.32 million for modification works from the year 2010 to last year,” Shahidan said in his reply.

– See more at: http://www.themalaymailonline.com/malaysia/article/pmo-jets-not-just-for-pm-airbus-rental-to-plug-shortage#sthash.9KFJzova.dpuf

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Then on the early hours here in BigDogDotCom, it was raised about the high probability that the Malaysian Government leased an ACJ320 VVIP VVIP jet from Malta-based executive jet charter Comlux Aviation. It quickly drew a lot attention and became viral.

The 9M-AWK, shot in Lapangan Terbang Sultan Abdul Halim, Alor Setar the morning a VVIP party leader flew in to attend the breakfast with rakyat of Pendang

The 9M-AWK, shot in Lapangan Terbang Sultan Abdul Halim, Alor Setar the morning a VVIP party leader flew in to attend the breakfast with rakyat of Pendang

PMO responded within the end of the same day of business, amidst the controversial raised to the exorbitant spending for VVIP. This is when in so many quarters the Malaysian public explicitly expressed their utter displeasure to the rise in cost of living, after the rise of petrol and diesel, sugar, grocery products and expected electricity tariff and tolled road rates.

Part of the ‘rationalisation of revenue’ for the Federal Government is Prime Minister Najib’s announcement of the introduction to consumption tax in the form of 6% GST, scheduled from April 2015.

Typical of a populist political leader, Prime Minister Najib announced what seemingly is a ‘Penny wise, pound foolish’ 11 point austerity drive on 30 December 2013. Probably his advisers had the believe if not the impression that more people are probably gullible enough to accept the sincerity to reduce spending and cost of Federal Government.

Malaysian Government VVIP jet ACJ319 with tail number 9M-NAA

Malaysian Government VVIP jet ACJ319 with tail number 9M-NAA

Despite the controversy and response, it was business as usual for PMO which is taking care of the needs of Prime Minister Dato’ Sri Mohd. Najib Tun Razak. This include his private matters.

On Sunday afternoon Malaysian time, it was captured that the ACJ319 VVIP jet commonly dubbed as “Perdana 1” or “NR1” as a call sign, is actually owned by Penerbangan Malaysia Bhd. and operated and maintained by Jet Premier One Sdn. Bhd., was in LAX.

The ACJ319 9M-NAA on 4 January 2013

The ACJ319 9M-NAA on 4 January 2013

It is believed that Prime Minister Najib was in Los Angeles over the New Year holidays, for a break and not an official or working visit. That round trip from Kuala Lumpur must have easily cost PMO over RM1.2 million in rental, maintenance, fuel, F&B and other related direct charges.

The fact that the Malaysian Government lease the ACJ319 VVIP jet with the 9M-NAA tail number from Penerbangan Malaysian Bhd., a company at ‘cost plus’ basis and the operation and maintenance of the aircraft is carried out by Jet Premier One Sdn. Bhd., added to the cost as opposed if it was under the RMAF. Both companies would have incorporated their own margin.

Six and half hours ago, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan arrived in KLIA for a two day official visit. Apparently, the leader of the NATO and EU nation flew on a Turkish Airlines B777-300 which is believed to be chartered instead of a dedicated VVIP executive jet.

The Star story:

Published: Thursday January 9, 2014 MYT 9:58:00 PM
Updated: Thursday January 9, 2014 MYT 10:19:37 PM

Turkey Prime Minister arrives for two-day official visit

Turkey Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan with his wife, Emine Erdogan, arrives at KLIA, welcomed by Foreign Minister Datuk Hamzah Zainuddin (right) and Deputy Finance Minister Datuk Ahmad Maslan (left).Turkey Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan with his wife, Emine Erdogan, arrives at KLIA, welcomed by Foreign Minister Datuk Hamzah Zainuddin (right) and Deputy Finance Minister Datuk Ahmad Maslan (left).

SEPANG: Turkey Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan arrived at the Bunga Raya Complex, Kuala Lumpur International Airport, here, at about 8pm Thursday for a two-day official visit to Malaysia.

He was accompanied by his wife Emine Erdogan and a 97-member delegation including the Turkish deputy prime minister, European Union affairs minister, economic minister, energy and environment minister, and youth and sports minister.

They were welcomed on arrival by the host country’s Deputy Foreign Minister Datuk Hamzah Zainuddin and Deputy Finance Minister Datuk Ahmad Maslan.

The visit is at the invitation of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and is part of Erdogan’s visit to Asia, which includes Japan and Singapore.

It is also in conjunction with the 50th year anniversary of Malaysia-Turkey relations which were established in 1964.

Erdogan is scheduled to attend the official welcoming ceremony at Perdana Putra in Putrajaya Friday, followed by a closed-door meeting with Najib before both leaders lead their respective delegations at a bilateral meeting.

Najib and his wife Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor will host the official dinner in honour of Erdogan and Emine at Seri Perdana.

The Turkish prime minister is also scheduled to deliver a lecture on “Transforming Asia Pacific and Turkey” as part of the Tun Abdul Razak lecture series, organised by the Transformation Research Foundation and Razak School of Government.

Erdogan is also to receive an honorary doctorate in management from the International Islamic University, Malaysia. – Bernama

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In the recent official visit to China, British Prime Minister David Cameron arrived on a Virgin Atlantic A340. It is believed, it was a chartered flight too.

British Prime Minister David Cameron arrives in China on a chartered Virgin Atlantic A340

It is unacceptable that so much tax payers money is spent for the pleasure, comfort and convenience of VVIP travel when Prime Minister najib over and over again reiterate that the Malaysian Government need to ‘rationalise subsidy’ costing annually RM43 billion and the ‘buck is being passed’ to Malaysians, especially the middle class.

Even Tun Dr. Mahathir sounded out on how the Malaysian Government is lavish and not observant on spending and cost of running the business as the government. He had asked the private sector to clearly voice their concern of the rising factors of production.

Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad's call for private sector to voice the concern of rising cost

Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s call for private sector to voice the concern of rising cost

Higher cost of production equates to products would no longer be competitive, amidst the more active regional neighbours which could offer lower cost of production. Inadvertently, the GDP would not go up to the level that Prime Minister Najib and his advisers envisaged.

Hence, achieving the ‘High Value Economy’ would not be able to be realised soon enough.

PM Najib Razak and consort Rosmah Mansor in a typical scene, waiving weil wishers before departing

They say charity begins at home. Unless Prime Minister Najib could ‘rationalise’ with facts that the Federal Government’s revenue have significantly increased and they are able to manage the ‘rationalisation of subsidies’ much better without passing the burden to the rakyat, then they should stop the opulence.

It is a sin for an elected leader to live in utter luxury, at the expense when so many upper lower income and lower middle class rakyat especially in the viscous cycle of urban poverty trap facing the hardship of rising cost and making ends meet.

Published in: on January 10, 2014 at 02:00  Comments (15)