Umno deputy: Subang Airport a strategic asset, should remain with govt

In the event of a national emergency, it is the only nearest airport for emergency operations, humanitarian aid and evacuation

by ASILA JALIL / pic by TMR FILE 

LAPANGAN Terbang Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah (Subang Airport) is a strategic asset and any move to sell it off would be contradictory to the nation’s interest, Umno deputy president Datuk Seri Mohamad Hassan said.

Subang Airport is collectively owned by the government-linked companies (GLCs) such as Khazanah Nasional Bhd, Permodalan Nasional Bhd (PNB) and the Retirement Fund Inc (KWAP).

“We have long lost the very strategic Sungai Besi Airport. In the event of a national emergency, Subang Airport is the only nearest airport for emergency operations, humanitarian aid and evacuation,” Mohamad said in a statement yesterday.

“Because of the strategic interest, it should remain with the government,” he added.

Mohamad further said that any proposal to the government should be made public with full transparency, as the people are the stakeholders of the airport.

Last month, WCT Holdings Bhd proposed to take over Subang Airport and turn it into a city airport.

The construction and engineering company currently holds a 60% stake in Subang Skypark Sdn Bhd which handles the operations of Subang Skypark Terminal. The stake was bought in 2018.

WCT is owned by businessman Tan Sri Desmond Lim.

Malaysia Airport Holdings Bhd (MAHB) workers’ unions have extended a letter to the airport operator’s chairman Datuk Seri Dr Zambry Abdul Kadir urging him to support the worker’s opposition to the proposed takeover. However, they have not received any response from Zambry on the matter yet.

Opposition MP Syed Ibrahim Syed Noh called for Transport Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong to explain how the proposed takeover of Subang Airport by WCT would benefit the National Airports Strategic Plan and the Malaysian Aerospace Industry Blueprint 2030.

He voiced his concerns towards the takeover and questioned why the government is considering the offer despite objections from the airport’s key stakeholders.

Among the questions he raised surrounding the takeover that still require explanation from the ministry include the salient terms of the takeover and why it was not done via an open tender.

“The government should also be transparent on the scope and terms of the proposed concessions. What will happen to the legal status of MAHB and the interests of Subang Airport?” he said in a statement yesterday.

The Ledang MP highlighted the objections for the takeover from MAHB, which manages the airport and Malaysia Aviation Group Bhd, and MAHB’s workers unions.

“Hence, it is strange why the minister is entertaining Lim’s proposal instead of siding with MAHB. Does Lim have special influential powers over the minister?” he asked.

He urged the government to reject the proposal and focus on its efforts to contain the pandemic nationwide.

“The suspension of the Parliament should not be used to pursue controversial business proposals,” he added.

Meanwhile, MAHB said yesterday that it sets out to bring innovation and technology leadership to Subang Aerotech Park with its latest collaboration with Teknopark Istanbul (TI), a world-class centre for technology excellence in Turkey.

MAHB said this is another step in fulfilling the airport’s aspiration to be a preferred aerospace and business aviation hub in Asia Pacific.

The collaboration will focus on aerospace and new generation technology sectors such as robotics, data analytics, machine learning and artificial intelligence.

“We will be working with TI to develop a cooperative framework for industrial and technology park development through exchange of knowledge on best practice models. Additionally, there will also be reciprocal efforts to facilitate convergence of technologies and advance the aerospace and aviation ecosystem,” the airport operator said.

The immediate plan is to organise a virtual forum to introduce Subang Airport and its ecosystem to TI’s community of over 340 firms, presenting an opportunity for Turkish aerospace and high-tech companies to set up international hubs at Subang Airport.

On Monday, MAHB announced that it had submitted a comprehensive strategic plan for the longterm development of Subang Airport to the government.

The company said the plan focuses on three areas to make the airport the preferred aerospace and aviation business hub in Asia Pacific over five years.