A Kadir Jasin[No anonymous comments will be posted. Please use your real indentity or a suitable pseudonym. Please avoid seditious and defamatory statements.]
[UPDATE, Jan 29] –THE Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, confirmed that an Airbus A319 Corporate Jet is being made available to the country’s VVIPs, including the King.
But according to The Star newspaper’s short message service (SMS), the PM said the Government did not buy the plane but instead leased it.
Whether the Government is buying the jet or is leasing it, the cost of leasing and operating it will still have to be shouldered by the taxpayers.
It is understood that the US$50-million plus aircraft is bought by Penerbangan Malaysia Berhad (PMB), a wholly-owned subsidiary of Khazanah Nasional Berhad. PMB has a leasing arm. It owns all the aircraft operated by Malaysia Airlines Berhad (Mas).
DO we, the taxpayers and voters, need to lavish our pembesar (VIPs) with another private jet?
Over the years we had already financed the purchase of four such aircraft – a Boeing Business Jet, a Bombardier Global Express, a Dassault Falcon 900B and a Fokker F-28.
They are still flying and we are paying for their maintenance and operation by the VIP No2 Squadron of Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) in Subang.
Have we, the taxpayers and voters, decided to purchase another luxury jet for them? I don’t know about you, but I can’t recall making such a decision.
So I am surprised when I was told that our government – one that we voted in with massive mandate in 2004 and to whom we pay all kinds of taxes, fees and duties – had bought yet another luxury jet.
This latest toy that we have to pay and maintain is an Airbus A319 Corporate Jet which, according to industry sources, can cost anywhere between US$40 and US$45 million without fixtures. Converting it to VIP configuration can cost another US$10 million.
According to a website dedicated to the sale of Airbus aircraft, “our” luxury jet made its maiden flight out of Airbus Industrie's Hamburg, Germany plant on Nov 29, 2006 and is now being outfitted by interior specialist Jet Aviation in Basel, Switzerland.
Taking the lower figure, the corporate jet will punch a US$50-million hole in our pocket. That’s a big hole. It’s equivalent to about RM175 million, which can build a lot of classrooms, hospital wards and not to mention mosques and rural roads for the rakyat. Or help rehabilitate Johor flood victims.
But alas our pembesar, having told us to change our lifestyle to cope with rising fuel prices, electricity rates, water tariffs and local government charges, are not about to change theirs.
Footnote: If this entry is inaccurate in any way, our democratically elected government or its agents are welcomed to respond. I undertake to publish their response in full.