dimanche 15 juin 2014



Simple things about an enterprise or a government give clues to why it is bound to fail or succeed. Why has Pakistan failed so miserably when their neighbours, who virtually are the same people, have flourished so well? Why is MH Malaysian Airlines is in the throes of bankruptcy despite never having made profits and always bankrolled by the government is in the same town as Air Asia, which has done more for civil aviation in South East Asia, has dramatically changed the culture of travel for all South East Asians rich and poor? The Malay dominated government of Malaysia in the spirit of exclusivity employs predominantly Malays at MH whereas at Air Asia, it is the merit that counts.

Here is one simple example of the inefficiency of MH.

I arrived at the gorgeous airport of Changi, in Singapore (yet again a contrast to KLIA which cannot hold a candle to Changi), a technologically advanced airport representing a technologically advanced country which has already reached the developed country status. (In Malaysia it is still the rhetoric, we will be developed by 2020, big chance!)

I wanted to fly MH from SIN to Siem Reap via KUL, there were other airlines flying via other cities to my destination, but I felt a soft spot for MH and Malaysia from my recent multiple visits to the country. Indeed the other airlines offered cheaper fares, and were more direct. (Jet star from Singapore for example). I fondly thought of the time, I was granted a Business Class ticket (roundtrip) on MH from LHR to MEL via KUL, with Teh Tahrek when you pleased. Also I wanted to change planes in KUL, an airport loaded with symbolism for me, with multiple arrivals and departures and goodbyes.

I have an MH app on my iPad and I have been able to book on it before, so why not this time? Each time, at the completion of my transaction, a message appeared saying Unable to authorize the credit card!

I thought there might be something wrong with my credit card so I called them in the USA, only to be told that everything is in order (USA is 12 hours behind in time to Singapore). Next I called the call centre of MH in KUL, a call that I had to pay for.

A very pleasant young woman, a non-malay by her elocution, found in the computer my multiple attempts to book the flights and said she would help me reinstate it.

The fare was 259 USD (the direct flight was just 100 USD, air Asia was slightly more also via KUL) I was looking forward to the MH club in KUL and also the pleasant crew of MH. I was put on hold, while the young lady consulted her supervisor, who returned after about 15 minutes.

Here is what she said:

We cannot accept your credit card since the flights are within 24 hours! But you can pay at the MH counter at the airport when it opens, which was fine with me.

Then she cautioned, the fare you had booked is on line but when you pay for the ticket at the airport they would have to charge you the full fare which would be 744 Sgd (more than 675 USD!). For that money you can fly to Melbourne and back and they are trying to extort that out of me, just because I wanted to fly with them?

I thought of Yossarian of Catch 22 fame! Yes MH likes to help you, but our offices are open only at times when nobody is behind the desk.

No wonder the stock of MH is plunging, since no one is interested in rescuing them, not even their coreligionists in political power which has been supporting this financial hemorrhage for more than half a century, to the tune of billions of dollars!

The Question is why MH and Malaysia are so far behind, far behind Singapore and very soon, Indonesia would be ahead of them, India has already surpassed them technologically. They are not innovative, mired in accusing a leader of homosexuality, banning a church from using the word Allah; these belong to the middle Ages and not the modern times, if they want to remain competitive. Singapore has achieved the first world status since they separated in 1965, when the Malays predicted that Lee Kuan Yew would return, running back pleading to be taken back... LKY once famously said: in Jamaica, why his country is so advanced… you see, Singapore is inhabited mainly by the Chinese. Survival, Innovation, lack of desire to depend upon government subsidies, lack of racial prejudices when it comes to merit... these are hallmarks of Singapore

I am sorry sir, the girl, said somewhat pleasantly.

Changi airport has free Wi-Fi and rows and rows of computers for general use. I was able to find the same fare, for the same flights, on line, on the web site of a travel company and within minutes I had my tickets mailed to me electronically. (It is the amount of time the pleasant girl put me on hold). I was able to pay with the same credit cards the MH people couldn’t accept!
MH and Malaysia, are you listening?