Press Statement by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjung, Lim Kit Siang, in Petaling Jaya, 8th July 1990:
MAS should stop fleecing the public with its profiteering and unconscionable implementation of the 72-hour penalty rule before it arouses the ire of the travelling public
DAP demands that MAS should stop fleecing the bona fide travelling public by its profiteering and unconscionable 72-hour penalty rule, where a passenger has to pay 25 per cent penalty if he changes flight within 72 hours.
I have just returned from Sabah and Sarawak, and the people in these two states are even more worked up against the MAS for the rigid and inflexible implementation of this 72-hour rule, because of the greater dependence of the people in Sabah and Sarawak on air travel.
I call on the MAS to immediately modify its exploitative 72-hour penalty rule before it arouses the ire of the travelling public, not only in Sabah and Sarawak, but throughout the country.
The reason for introducing the 72-hour rule by MAS was to prevent mass over-bookings, blocking up seat reservations. In trying to resolve this problem, which is largely a problem created by travel agents, MAS should not find a solution which has created great hardships and inconvenience to the bona fide passenger.
At present, even if there are seats on earlier flights than the one originally booked, the traveller cannot take the earlier flight without having to pay the 25 per cent penalty.
I congratulate the MAS Managing Director, Datuk Aziz Abdul Rahman, for being recently conferred the honorary doctorate of DBA (Doctor of Business Administration) by the International Management Centre in London, but I want to ask him on what management principles he justified the 25 per cent penalty rule for such a case.
It has nothing to do with overcoming overbooking, as there are plenty of seats available in this case. Such change of flight plans cannot cause any administrative problems for MAS, as the whole air ticketing system is computerised. Or is the MAS Managing Director suggesting that the 25 per cent penalty is to meet the administrative cost of altering the flight by the computer system? If this is the case, then MAS must be the most inefficient airline in the world.
The 25 per cent penalty rule for such a case has no justification on any ground, but purely to exploit the monopoly position of MAS at the public expense with the sole aim of making the greatest possible profit for MAS. To put it simply, what the MAS is doing in this case is fleecing the public!
I have given up on the Transport Minister, Datuk Dr. Ling Liong Sik, who is clearly incapable of managing anything under his Ministry.
If MAS refuses to modify its 72-hour penalty rule, then I will seek an appointment with Datuk Aziz Abdul Rahman after the Sabah state general elections to let him realise the growing anger of the travelling public at such irresponsible, unconscionable and profiteering practices by MAS, and to warn him that he should expect a campaign by the people in Sabah, Sarawak and Peninsular Malaysia against such profiteering practices by MAS.