Worker unions puzzled over leadership changes at MAHB

by NUR HANANI AZMAN / pic by TMR FILE

THE Malaysia Airports Workers Union (Kesma) and the National Union of Flight Attendants (Nufam) said they were stunned over the resignation of Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd (MAHB) group CEO Datuk Mohd Shukrie Mohd Salleh and the appointment of new MD Datuk Iskandar Mizal Mahmood (picture) effective today.

With Mohd Shukrie’s departure both unions said they will feel the loss of a leader who is competent and capable, despite difficult times in the past two years mainly due to the Covid-19 pandemic that brought the aviation sector to a halt.

“Mohd Shukrie is a good and kind leader although the aviation industry was greatly impacted by Covid-19. During this critical moment, none of our staff was fired and we still survive to this day. We still work, while some of us work from home,” Kesma president Hussin Shahar told The Malaysian Reserve (TMR).

“Until now, all MAHB staff are still paid with full salary. Kesma strongly believes and is confident in the credibility of his leadership. Mohd Shukrie should have had his contract extended for another term,” he said.

In a Bursa Malaysia filing last Friday, MAHB announced the appointment of Iskandar Mizal as the new MD. Iskandar Mizal is not an unfamiliar name at MAHB, having been the firm’s GM between 1999 and 2003.

In a separate announcement, the airport operator also announced the resignation of Mohd Shukrie as group CEO, citing “to pursue other opportunities” as the reason, effective yesterday.

Mohd Shukrie assumed his current post in March last year. He joined MAHB in May 2019 as COO.

Recently, the government had been urged to clarify its position on Mohd Shukrie following reports on plans for his ouster.

Mohd Shukrie was said to be instrumental in foiling a move by WCT Holdings Bhd to acquire and operate Subang Airport until 2092.

On June 25, 2021, the government said there had been no decision to sell Subang Airport despite media reports that such a proposal was being considered.

In separate statements, the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Transport (MoT) stated that the government had no plans to sell any part of the airport to the private sector.

However, MoT noted that the government did not bar any parties from submitting proposals to redevelop existing projects or developing new assets.

A news portal reported Federal Territories Umno Youth information chief Wan Agyl Wan Hassan wanted the government to clarify a rumour that Mohd Shukrie will be replaced as group CEO of MAHB.

He said it was important for the public to understand why the CEO needs to be replaced, especially because Mohd Shukrie had strongly opposed a recent attempt to take over Subang Airport.

Meanwhile, Nufam president Ismail Nasaruddin expressed his disappointment and said this is not the right time for the change in CEO considering the aviation industry is gearing up for air travel recovery.

“When there are changes, there will always be changes in interest too. If the leadership is changed, will the new leader care about the staff’s interest?

“The most important thing now is to develop the quality of service in order to get ready for post-pandemic traffic growth,” he told TMR.