Utusan Malaysia has expanded its criticism of AirAsia X chief executive officer Azran Osman Rani to the low-cost carrier itself, dedicating one full page to negative reports today.
The Umno-owned newspaper quoted several individuals including Consumer Association of Subang and Shah Alam president Jacob George and Malaysia Muslim Consumer Association activist Mohd Mustaffa Hamzah in a report headlined ‘AirAsia censured’.
This was a reference to the case of Izan Suhaila Mohd Ali, 36, and her 14-month-old daughter Mariam Sofea Mohd Reza who were not allowed to board an AirAsia flight at Ho Chi Minh airport in Vietnam to return home last Saturday.
AirAsia had explained that it followed international guidelines in rejecting the duo as a doctor had diagnosed the baby with chicken pox.
The rival Malaysian Airlines, which later flew the duo back, claimed that another doctor confirmed that the baby could be taken on board the aircraft as she had recovered from the disease.
Another report headlined ‘AirAsia’s excuse disputed by consumers’ quoted posts by Internet users on the airline’s Facebook webpage, rebutting its explanation.
Describing the airline’s treatment of the mother and child as “inhumane”, the daily cited a blog posting by TV3 journalist Mazidul Akmal Sidek who slammed AirAsia group chief executive officer Tony Fernandes for defending his employees.
The daily also interviewed Kedah-based NGO leader Khairul Anuar Ramli who demanded that AirAsia chairperson Rafidah Aziz apologises on behalf of Azran (left) for his criticism of Utusan.
Last week Azran Osman had described the daily as ‘racist’ because of its crude front page headline ‘Apa lagi Cina mahu‘ (What more do the Chinese want) on May 7. He also said that Malay rights group Perkasa is narrow-minded and had caused the Malays to be left behind.
Since then, the newspaper has embarked on a scathing attack against Azran and AirAsia.
For instance, in a column written by its editors under the pseudonum ‘Awang Selamat’, it suggested that advertisements from AirAsia should be rejected until Azran apologises.
It claimed that AirAsia’s advertisements are “cheaper than advertisements of traditional supplement and hair treatment”.
Utusan also highlighted the Twitter comments by prominent Malay businessman Kalimullah Hassan (right) who defended Azran.
“Only the bigots will find comments like that of Azran Osman Rani offensive. He is a true Malaysian,” said the ex-New Straits Times group editor-in-chief.
“I wonder sometimes under which rock some of these Utusan personalities crawled out from. Must be a real sank [sic] dark place.”
Azran, who had claimed that his comments were blown out of proportion, refused comment when contacted.- Malaysiakini