What stunned the rakyat was that Fernandes had the audacity to take the ailing nation’s woes for granted and that too at the people’s expense

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‘There are no permanent enemies or permanent friends but there must be permanent principles’ – Karpal Singh (1940-2014)

Yesterday was May 13, a date etched in the minds of Malaysians as one of bloody and frightening whenever the racial riots of May 13, 1969 come to mind.

It now pales in comparison to May 9, 2018, a day when Malaysians cried openly and rejoiced at their new found emancipation and in succeeding to restore the nation’s honour and dignity.

May 9 was a watershed moment for Malaysia and her people. It was then the 14th general election (GE14) was held and result was mind boggling – a total washout for the Barisan Nasional administration and the coming on board of Pakatan Harapan, the opposition coalition which promised Malaysians it would “save Malaysia” from the political tyranny of the BN government led by deposed prime minister Najib Razak.

May 9 was a day when Malaysians defied being malleable and demanded change. It was patriotism and not selfish motives that ruled the day. It was a dream come true as Malaysia finally redeeming her compromised honour.

In the face of so much happiness, comes a confession of sorts, a regret rather, by a corporate entity whose rags to riches story post-May 9 no longer inspires Malaysians.

If prior to GE14 super rich Tony Fernandes, the man that made no-frills, public-listed airline AirAsia a household name, was singing praises of the Najib leadership, yesterday, after the knockout punch both Najib and BN faced at the polls, Fernandes attempted a remorse.

On March 1, Fernandes, chief executive officer/AirAsia X co-group CEO, hooted about what a big believer AirAsia was in Najib’s policies and for having the airline’s back enroute to becoming a world leader in the aviation sector.

“We’ve been big believers in your policies … We would not be where we are today if not for your wisdom and vision, and we respectfully hope for your kind consideration on how best to shape an ideal cost environment for low-cost airlines like AirAsia not just to grow but thrive for the benefit of the nation.”

Yesterday, in an about-face, Fernandes apologised to Malaysians for a stunt which had him ferried Najib aboard a BN-themed flight.

That act and his singing praise of the BN government saw Fernandes berated and condemned.

In his apology, the budget airline chief claimed he thought the move would please the then BN government which had been pressuring him and AirAsia over their move to provide affordable flights on election day May 9.

Patriotism above all else

Fernandes pointed out too that the airline also faced the heat following Air Asia X chairperson Rafidah Aziz’s vocal support for Pakatan Harapan.

“Foolishly I thought by doing the video, which I felt was fairly neutral and factual, and the plane from Kota Kinabalu would appease the government and protect the jobs of allstars (AirAsia staff) and more importantly, the very essence of allowing more than 80 million people to fly every year with low fares.

“Under the intense pressure, I buckled. It wasn’t right, I will forever regret it… I apologise once again for the pain and the hurt I caused,” Fernandes had said in a video posted on his Facebook page yesterday (Sunday).

Whether he truly buckled or made an injudicious call believing the BN government was here to stay no longer matters to Malaysians.

What stunned the rakyat was that Fernandes had the audacity to take the ailing nation’s woes for granted and that too at the people’s expense.

Why did AirAsia not reflect solidarity with Malaysians and place the country’s wellbeing above all else? Would Fernandes bother apologising to Malaysians had the BN coalition won GE14?

Whilst the nation was desperately in need of ‘saving’, Fernandes chose to engage in politicking. At a time when the country needed him for her own salvation, Fernandes jumped ship and ran to safe himself.

Is that how patriotism works for Fernandes where the end justifies the means?

After 60 years of enduring arm twisting by the BN government, Malaysians revolted but in a dignified fashion. Were their anguish and struggle alien to Fernandes, the businessman who made it to Forbes’ 2018 Malaysia Rich List?

Still, all is not lost. That the AirAsia founder is repentant hopefully allows him the benefit of the doubt from Malaysians who tragically now find it hard to forgive him for deserting Malaysia and her people at a time they most needed him and his unconditional support.

The comeuppance Fernandes has faced and continues to underscores the truth as to why Malaysians will never forgive any wheeling and dealing with patriotism.

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