Wrong to use public funds for privatised airports


Free Malaysia Today

Investment, trade and industry minister Tengku Zafrul Aziz’s recent announcement that the government intends to enhance the Penang International Airport’s (PIA) infrastructure to facilitate semiconductor export has sparked significant concern.

The plan, disclosed in the Dewan Rakyat, aims to improve Malaysia’s airport capabilities, especially for high-tech exports.

Astoundingly, none of the opposition MPs voiced any objection to the proposal.

It is important to note that the PIA is owned by Malaysia Airports Holdings Berhad (MAHB), which manages 38 other airports in the country, including those in Sabah and Sarawak.

On the same morning of Zafrul’s announcement, the finance minister, who is also the prime minister, revealed the government’s decision to privatise MAHB in a scheme that involves Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP), a company linked to BlackRock.

The process will see 30% of MAHB’s equity sold to GIP, apparently without need for any tender or cabinet decision. It was also reported that BlackRock, a major US investment firm, will eventually take over GIP by the end of this year.

Controversial decision

The decision announced by Tengku Zafrul to upgrade PIA has generated controversy, particularly because the government now plans to use public funds for an airport that it intends to privatise.

The decision is, in my view, shockingly unethical. Using taxpayers’ money to subsidise a privately-owned corporation, which will also include foreign owners like GIP, contradicts the principles of any privatisation policy.

It goes without saying that the main reason why certain infrastructure projects are privatised is to reduce the financial burden of the government.

Such savings in public funds could be better utilised in sectors that are more beneficial to the rakyat, such as schools, hospitals, housing and other important utilities like water, electricity and flood mitigation.


It is equally bizarre and outrageous that the opposition has not addressed this issue.

In fact, Tengku Zafrul also mentioned that Johor’s Senai Airport, privatised almost 30 years ago and owned by Syed Mokhtar Albukhary’s MMC Corporation Berhad, also requires infrastructure upgrades.

Again, the government should not be using public money to fund a privately-owned facility.

This situation raises several important questions about the proper use of public funds and the potential conflict of interests that arise when supporting private enterprises.

In my opinion, allocating taxpayer money for infrastructure that benefits a partially foreign-owned private entity is a misuse of public resources.

The Malaysian government must clarify this issue, reconsider their decision, and abandon this unacceptable approach.

They must maintain public accountability by ensuring that all public funds are used transparently and ethically.

Government expenditure, collected via taxation, should be directed toward initiatives that offer clear and equitable benefits to the Malaysian public. - FMT

The views expressed are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect those of MMKtT.

Wrong to use public funds for privatised airports