Former chief wants local to head MAB after Mueller’s gone

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KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia Airlines Berhad CEO and Managing Director Christoph Mueller’s resignation provides an opportunity for a local to head the national carrier, says former Malaysia Airlines Chief Abdul Aziz Abdul Rahman.

At a press conference today, Abdul Aziz, who headed the airlines for almost 20 years since its inception, said the national carrier should be headed by a local as there was no shortage of competent candidates for the job.

He acknowledged that in the past, some local heads of the airlines had not performed, leading to enormous losses.

“The problem was these people were making losses, but they were not replaced.”

He said if a local was hired to replace Mueller, then the person should be given six months to a year to perform, and if he did not, then he should be replaced.

“This is how it should be,” said Abdul Aziz.

He pointed out that other national or government-owned companies were headed by locals, and this should be the case with MAB as well as locals better understood the country’s culture and government policies.

Abdul Aziz said it was a mistake to hire expatriates, including the chief and fifteen other senior management officers, not because they were not capable, but because locals could have been hired instead.

“When we started the airline in 1971, we had nothing,” he said, adding that the airlines was developed from scratch and so logically there was more local talent now than when it began operations.

He said when it started, the airline was run by locals from top to bottom and grew to be a respectable national carrier, with internationally recognised subsidiary operations like its cargo as well as its maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) subsidiaries.

“As it is, MAB is not a national carrier, it is too small and is not generating anything.

“No cargo, no engineering, what rubbish is this?”

Abdul Aziz, who ended his service in 1991, left the company with a cash reserve of RM5 billion.

He, however, declined to name any potential candidates, but stressed that there were locals within MAB who could do the job as well. He also declined to comment on speculation surrounding Mueller’s resignation.

On Tuesday, it was reported that Mueller would be leaving the company in September, just over a year into his three-year contract due to “personal circumstances.”