by NUR HAZIQAH A MALEK/ pic by HUSSEIN SHAHARUDDIN
MALAYSIA Airlines Bhd (MAB) and its sister companies under the Malaysia Aviation Group (MAG) will contribute RM1 from each ticket sales in January 2020 to assist Australian wildfire victims.
MAB also said it is working with the National Disaster Relief Management Agency (NADMA) to fly in volunteers if it is required by the Australian government.
MAG CEO Captain Izham Ismail (picture) said Australia is close to the group’s heart as it was where the company had one of its earliest cadet pilot and engineer training.
“Australia has always been close to our hearts. The Australian government has also provided us with various forms of assistance during our time of difficulty.
“Due to the severity of the situation, MAB has decided to make a monetary contribution in addition to supporting NADMA in their aid on behalf of the country,” he said in a statement yesterday.
He also expressed his concerns on the escalating bush fire that has ravaged many parts of the country, forcing several areas to declare state of emergency.
“It has been reported that the fires have generated violent weather, which can influence regional and global climate.
“We are committed to not just limiting our assistance in the form of monetary, but we have also initiated discussions with various organisations that can offer skills and expertise in the recovery of the ecosystems,” he said.
Izham added that the company prays the situation can be contained soon and hopes that its contribution will ease some of the burden.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with them, and the families of those who perished in the fires,” he said.
Proceeds will be channelled towards wildlife protection, the firefighter benevolent fund and Red Cross, the major organisations managing the affected people.
Currently, Malaysia Airlines flies to Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne, Sydney and Perth, and operates 53 flights a week.
Meanwhile, it was reported that the government has offered to combat the bush fire which has killed at least 23 people by deploying NADMA and Special Malaysia Disaster Assistance and Rescue Team personnel.
It was also reported that three people were charged with allegedly having sparked the fires in the area, while police said they have taken action against over 180 people for bushfire-related offences.
The 2019-2020 bushfire season which started in September, has burned an estimated seven million ha of land in both eastern and southern states.
According to authorities, arsonists started most of the fires across New South Wales, with two incidents in Cooma and Tarro, allegedly involving open fire for cooking attempts and multiple small fires lighting in Contegany.
The target of heavy criticism recently, as many accused him of indifference towards the crisis is the Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, who went on a surprise vacation with his family.
In response, Australia’s government announced it would be willing to pay “whatever it takes” to help communities recover, while Morrison announced that the government was committing AU$2 billion (RM5.65 billion) towards the recovery effort, on top of tens of millions of dollars previously promised.