Last week, Christoph Mueller, the CEO and MD of Malaysian Airlines Berhad (MAB) became the latest victim of Umno-Baru. Was anyone surprised? No! If they were surprised, it was that he had lasted this long.
Everyone knows that without the core values of Meritocracy, Accountability, Transparency and Integrity (MATI), no one, not even the Germans with their strong work ethics, can make MAB work. Umno-Baru leaders have refused to embrace MATI.
When he joined MAB, in May 2015, Mueller, who had helped to restore Aer Lingus and DHL Worldwide to profitability, gave Malaysians hope.
Perhaps, when he agreed to restructure MAB, Mueller did not realise the depth of depravity of Malaysian politics.
He may have been impressed with the Oxford and Cambridge types who run Khazanah, and wondered if they lacked the business acumen to turn around MAB. Little did he know that these smart alecs were simply obeying their political masters, and protecting the interests of Umno-Baru and its cronies.
On Jan 6 and 7, MAB enforced a two-day restriction on luggage for passengers flying to Paris, Amsterdam and London. Passengers were restricted to carrying 7kg of hand luggage each. The reason for this incredible ruling was, “strong headwinds in Europe”.
No one believed MAB then, just as no one believed Mueller last week, when he said he was leaving because of “his changing personal circumstances”.
So what are the true reasons for his premature departure?
1. Managing the impossible.
Despite the mess MAB (formerly MAS) was in, Mueller managed to turn the company around. On April 6, Mueller announced that MAB recorded a profit in February 2016, its first in many years and he projected that it would be in the black, by 2018.
Mueller has worked magic and restored the coffers of MAS. His role is now obsolete, and Umno-Baru can start to milk MAB, again.
2. An element of racism
Malaysia has produced many smart and capable people. Who says that Malaysians cannot turn MAB around?
We do not need foreigners, but in Malaysia, where racism is the norm, a Malay must toe the Ketuanan Melayu line and remain beholden to Umno-Baru. A non-Malay would be committing career suicide, and he would be threatened, if he were to sack MAS employees, most of whom are Malay.
A westerner can be impartial. When he is employed to do the culling, no-one has the courage to oppose him.
Moreover, if a non-Malay were seen to have turned MAB around, then Umno-Baru would lose face.
If a Malay could turn MAB round, would this give hope to the millions of fence sitters in Malaysia, and show that a Malay is capable, and is not dependent on crutches? Then the fallacy of Ketuanan Melayu would be exposed.
3. MAB is a reflection of how Malaysia is run.
The former MAS was run along the same lines as the country is run by Umno-Baru. Policies are made without consultation, nor is information given. The leaders react to an issue, rather than being pro-active.
If the rakyat are unhappy, then tough! The same lack of consideration is shown by MAS/MAB’s management towards its passengers, and staff.
The Germans are known for their no-nonsense attitude and their perceived lack of humour, but their work ethic is second-to-none and they have a penchant for obeying rules.
Mueller has probably had enough of the Umno-Baru types, who are laid back to the point of being comatose.
4. The Cash Cow
In the first round of culling, it was alleged that many of the people on the MAS board were retained in MAB. These people were drawing salaries of several thousands of ringgits per month.
Why was Mueller unable to get rid of them? Perhaps, the same people will now take over after Mueller has successfully managed the first of his tasks.
Why should Umno-Baru and Khazanah get rid of MAB, especially when the GLCs are allegedly Umno-Baru’s cash cows?
Will we ever know the true reasons for Mueller’s departure? Can pigs fly? – The Heat Malaysia