by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General, and MP for Tanjung, Lim Kit Siang, in Petaling Jaya on Wednesday, 18th May 1994:
MAS should release the cadet pilots from their bonds if it could not offer them jobs as pilots, just as the government had previously released scholarship graduates to seek employment elsewhere during the recession in the 1980s
The plight of qualified commercial pilots having to do menial jobs because of the mismatch between demand and supply for pilots is a scandal of the first magnitude – for it represents planning at its worst!
MAS, for instance, has 115 cadet pilots who are not flying and in a few more months, some 200 cadet pilots in MAS would be grounded – and they might have to wait until 1997 before they could fly as pilots.
It may be understandable for MAS to err in its planning in having 20 excess pilots, but to have an excess of 200 pilots implies colossal management and planning carelessness and irresponsibility as the slowdown in the airlines industry did not take place overnight.
I understand that these cadet pilots who have been grounded have been reassigned as stewards of the cabin crew or office jobs such as filing, arranging books in the library, interviewing passengers in surveys, etc. No cadet pilot could be happy with such redeployment as claimed by a NIHS spokesman.
MAS has said that the cadet pilots who are grounded and want to leave MAS would have to return the money MAS spent on them to train them as pilots – between RM80,000 to RM140, 000 – as they are bonded to the company for seven years under the training agreement.
This is most unfair and even exploitative. It is MAS which had breached the agreement with the cadet pilots, where MAS promised to appoint them as second officers on completion of their training, where they would be drawing RM2,000 to RM3,000 a month inclusive of allowances.
Now grounded, these cadet pilots are paid RM800 a month.
MAS should either pay these grounded pilots the salary and allowances of second officers, although they are redeployed to other duties, or MAS should release them from their bonds to give them an option to seek employment elsewhere. MAS should follow the example of the Malaysian Government during the recession in the 1980s when it could not offer jobs to all its scholarship holders, and had released them from their bonds to seek employment outside the public service.
The Ministry of Transport should institute an inquiry to ascertain how MAS management could make such a colossal plan¬ning blunder and protect the cadet pilots from being exploited by MAS.