by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjung, Lim Kit Siang, in Petaling Jaya on Tuesday, April 6, 1993:
Liong Sik has again shown he is not in full control of ‘the Transport Ministry when in 48 hours he had ‘to I eat his own words’ in Bintulu that the special air fares being considered for Sabah would not be extended to Sarawak.
The MCA President and Transport Minister, Datuk Dr. Ling Liong Sik, has again shown that he is not in full control of the Transport Ministry when in 48 hours he had to ‘eat his own words’ in Bintulu that the special air fares being considered for Sabah would not be extended to Sarawak.
In Bintulu over the weekend, Liong Sik declared that ”the Federal Government. is unable to meet. Sarawak’s request for cheap flights like those proposed for Sabah”.
He said Malaysian Airlines could not consider lowering air fares on the Sarawak sector as it suffered losses in operating to the state.
On his return to Kuala Lumpur, Liong Sik has now issued a statement saying that any discount of air fares from Sabah to peninsula as proposed by the Government will also be extended to Sarawak. He said it was not the intention of the Government to discriminate against Sarawak when it proposed that Malaysia Airlines introduce cheaper flights between Kota Kinabalu and Kuala Lumpur.
The question is why Liong Sik did not realise this 48 hours earlier when he said in Bintulu that Sarawak would not benefit from the special cheap fare scheme being considered for Sabah?
Could it be that Liong Sik was not even aware that the Federal Government had officially asked, MAS to consider a special cheap fare scheme between Kota Kinabalu and Kuala Lumpur?
If so, it only confirms the sorry state of affairs in the Transport Ministry, whose Minister is not on top of his job, and which explains for the four security scandals at the Subang International Airport in less than a year, creating an unprecedented ‘image problem’ for Malaysia as a civil aviation and tourist destination.
It was the Deputy Prime Minister, Ghafar Baba, who announced in Keningau on 27th March that Malaysia Airlines had been directed the previous week to study the possibility of having special flights with discounted fares for peopie from Sabah wishing to tour Peninsular Malaysia.
Ghafar had said that he hoped that the study would be completed in two or three weeks to decide on the actual fares and the type of aircraft to be used.
He said such flights would be specially for people travel¬ling’ under tourist group packages and who are visiting the peninsula for several days. Businessmen would have to pay the normal fare.
Two days later, the MAS corporate communicatiosn manager Siew Yong Ganalingam said that MAS was studying Ghafar Baba’s proposal ‘to reduce its fares to Sabah.
Liong Sik should step down gracefully as Transport Minister instead of creating more scandals and commiting more blunders in the Transport Ministry
It was natural therefore that when Liong Sik visited Sarawak over the weekend, requests would be made for similar consideration to be given to Sarawak with regard to the proposal that MAS lower fares for flights between Sabah and Peninsular Malaysia.
However, Liong Sik was so incompetent and irresponsible a Transport Minister that he summarily dismissed such Sarawak requests in Bintulu – and he had to ‘eat his own words’ within 48 hours on his return to Kuala Lumpur, as Sarawakians would be fully entitled to feel aggrieved and discriminated if the s’p’ecial cheap flights system ap¬plies only to Sabah and not to Sarawak.
Can Liong Sik explain the reason for his great blunder in Bintulu? He is trying to explain it away by claiming that he had meant that MAS could not lower air fares for the internal sectors in Sarawak. This is a lame excuse, for Ghafar’s proposal is not about internal Sabah flight sectors, but a special fare between Kota Kinabalu and Kuala Lumpur.
Isn’t it time for Liong Sik to step down gracefully from the Transport Ministry instead of causing more scandals and committing more blunders in the Transport Ministry?