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AWSJ: MTUC Postpones Protest - Subang Airport To Close
By Chris Prystay

13/5/2001 4:21 am Sun

[Walaupun MTUC menangguhkan piket mereka ada sesuatu yang diambil perhatian oleh pemimpin kerajaan masakini - mereka sudah tidak boleh bersambil lewa lagi berkhidmat. Rakyat sudah pandai mendesak dan memprotes sehingga menterinya terpaksa berpeluh juga menjawab segala tuntutan. Penangguhan setelah Mahathir masuk campur menggambarkan menteri BN, Fong tidak begitu pandai berpolitik. Begitu juga Kaveas yang lebih memakan diri sendiri dalam isu MSPJ-Country Heights.

MTUC seharusnya tidak bertolak-ansur atau memegang janji Mahathir walaupun secara bertulis. Royalti yang lebih tinggi pun dimungkiri juga - inikan pula janji bertulis sahaja. Mahathir seperti bimbang ledakkan akibat piket ini yang mungkin memercik ke perhimpunan agung Umno. Pertuduhan tambahan kepada Anwar telah digugurkan semuanya mengikut berita terbaru AFP dan AP. Di sini simpati ditakuti akan merangsang kebangkitan rakyat yang semakin membuak-buak lagi.

Tuntutan MTUC antara lain adalah SEMUA pelaburan dan pinjaman yang mahu dikeluarkan oleh KWSP hendaklah mendapat kelulusan lembaga pengarah juga. Sebelum ini hanya kelulusan kementerian kewangan dan bank negara sahaja yang perlu di ambil kira. KWSP telah rugi RM106 juta di atas kertas sahaja dalam pelaburan time dotCom. Saham tersebut masih di bawah paras harga tawaran sampai hari ini. Dengan menangguh lebih 3 bulan, pihak tertentu mungkin akan memainkan harga saham ini. Tetapi jika ia jatuh semakin teruk lagi, besar kemungkinan piket yang akan datang akan menjadi lebih besar lagi.

Dalam rencana AWSJ yang kedua, LTAB Subang akan ditamatkan kariernya untuk diganti dengan pusat ekspo antarabangsa. Di sinilah akan dibina satu projek NECC yang mencecah harga berbilion juga di mana Kamungting Bhd yang dikuasai oleh Mokhzani dikatakan mendapat tendernya.

Apa yang menarik rancangan ini mungkin memberi kebaikan kepada MAS tetapi ia akan menjerut syarikat penerbangan tempatan yang lebih kecil seperti Pelangi Airways, AirAsia dan Berjaya Air. Mereka ini kroni belaka yang terpaksa menggaru kepala kerana duit tidak ada untuk mengongkosi perpindahan itu yang tentunya akan memakan banyak belanja... Apakah tabung haji akan datang menolong pula? - Editor]

The Asian Wall Street Journal
11th May 2001

Malaysian Union Postpones Protest;
Mahathir Will Address Complaints



KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia -- Malaysia's largest labor-union organization postponed a planned nationwide protest against alleged mismanagement of the country's national pension fund after Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad agreed to address a list of union complaints and assured labor leaders that the pension fund will be run with greater transparency.

Leaders of the Malaysian Trade Union Congress -- which represents 550,000 workers -- said they received a letter from Dr. Mahathir this week stating that the pension fund will rescind a controversial reduction in death and injury benefits and review an unpopular move to introduce a privately managed annuity plan. The two issues were among the grievances that drove the MTUC to threaten to picket offices of the pension fund -- known as the Employees Provident Fund, or EPF -- on Saturday.

MTUC Secretary General G. Rajasekaran said Dr. Mahathir "has given a very clear assurance on the suspension of the annuity scheme, clear confirmation the [government] will take steps to restore the benefit, and thirdly, given a written undertaking that the EPF will assure that there will be greater transparency in the management of the contributors' funds."

In calling off the protest, the MTUC averted what would have been an unprecedented confrontation between the country's usually compliant union movement and the Malaysian government. The MTUC, an umbrella organization for 230 Malaysian unions, had said it would mobilize thousands of workers to march on EPF offices around the country this week. The EPF manages 181 billion ringgit ($47.63 billion) in retirement funds contributed by 9.7 million salaried Malaysians and their employers.

Continued Dissent

Dr. Mahathir's agreement to address labor's concerns is seen by some analysts as a bid to defuse one of a growing number of political problems besetting his government. The 75-year-old premier -- in power for almost 20 years -- is wrestling with restiveness within his United Malays National Organization and fending off attacks from a persistent opposition movement.

The 1998 sacking of former Deputy Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim, who was later convicted on s###my and corruption charges, continues fuel dissent among Malaysia's ethnic Malay majority. Police jailed 10 opposition activists last month under the Internal Security Act for allegedly trying to organize street demonstrations against the government.

Meanwhile, Daim Zainuddin, Malaysia's powerful finance minister and a longtime Mahathir ally, took a two-month leave of absence, spurring talk of a widening rift between Tun Daim and the prime minister. And complaints of money politics within UMNO prompted Dr. Mahathir last week to suspend six senior officials accused of buying votes in recent party elections.

'From All Fronts'

All this comes at a time when the Malaysian economy continues to slump amid slowing global growth. "He's got it from all fronts right now," said the research head of a Kuala Lumpur-based brokerage firm, who declined to be named.

MTUC leaders stressed that the unions' protest over the EPF's management was "postponed" and not canceled. Mr. Rajasekaran said the protest would go ahead Aug. 9 if the government fails to make concrete reforms concerning the transparency of the EPF's investment policies and the fund's public accountability. In addition, union representatives are demanding to fill at least half the seats on the EPF's board of directors; they now have five seats on the EPF's 18-person board. The MTUC also wants the EPF's investment panel -- which is appointed by the finance minister -- to seek board approval for all major investments and loans.

The fund's investment practices came under fire in March after the EPF took a 3.22% stake in Time dotCom Bhd., a telecommunications company controlled by the politically influential Renong Group. The EPF agreed to take most of that stake as partial repayment for a 500 million ringgit loan the fund made to Time dotCom's parent, Time Engineering Bhd., in 1996.

Time Engineering agreed to repay half the loan in cash and half in the form of 78.7 million Time dotCom shares valued at their initial-public-offer price of 3.30 ringgit each. The EPF bought another 2.85 million Time dotCom shares in January under a restricted sale offer in the run-up to the IPO in March. Time dotCom's stock price has plunged about 37% since its shares began trading, reducing the value of the EPF's shareholding by about 106 million ringgit on paper.

Write to Cris Prystay at cris.prystay@a...

The Asian Wall Street Journal
10th May 2001

Malaysia's Old Airport To Close to Passengers


Kuala Lumpur's old international airport at Subang will be closed to scheduled passenger flights next April, according to the airport's operator.

Adnan Shamsuddin, executive director for operations at Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd., said remaining flights will move from the old airport at Subang once express-train service opens in April to link the capital's downtown to the new Kuala Lumpur International Airport at Sepang.

But train service might not be enough to mollify some travelers. Although spacious and visually stunning, the new KLIA is almost three times farther than the old airport from downtown Kuala Lumpur. The announced fare for the train is also double the cost of a taxi from downtown to the old airport.

When the new airport in Sepang opened three years ago, flag carrier Malaysia Airlines initially moved all its flights there. However, the distance and cost of transportation to the new airport hurt Malaysia Airlines's business, as passengers chose to drive to their destinations or take one of the smaller airlines that stayed at Subang. As a result, Malaysia Airlines reversed itself after a few months and moved some flights back to Subang.

After its April closure to commercial passenger flights, Subang will continue to serve private planes and other general aviation uses, Mr. Adnan said. Malaysia Airports opened an auction center in a former terminal at the airport last year, and is also developing a convention-and-exhibition center at the site.

Although Malaysia Airlines accounts for most of the typical 18 passenger flights a day flown from Subang, the airport is also home base for four smaller Malaysian airlines, most of which have no operations at KLIA. The Subang airport handled 2.1 million passengers in 2000.

Executives from the smaller carriers said they have yet to receive any official notification that the airport will close to scheduled passenger flights. Ravi Vijayarengam, assistant commercial manager at Berjaya Air, said the shift to KLIA would be expensive for the airline because it would need to move all its support operations and equipment. Lo Chok Ping, a finance official with Transmile Group, said the company doubts a shift would affect its cargo flights from Subang. The other carriers based at Subang are Pelangi Airways and AirAsia.

John Casey, an aviation analyst with SG Securities in Singapore, said the move will benefit Malaysia Airlines and Malaysia Airports, now both under government control. Malaysia Airlines will save on the cost of duplicating operations between the two city airports. Its existing international and domestic networks and operations at KLIA also will give it a leg up on the small carriers just getting set up.

Malaysia Airports, Mr. Casey said, will get a small step closer to its goal of turning KLIA into a leading Southeast Asian hub through a boost from the additional flights and connections. The airport has recently lost service from several international carriers. To try to tempt airlines, KLIA is waiving landing and parking fees on new flights as of this month.

Write to Zach Coleman at