Tony Fernandes: "I'm Sorry. I Buckled At The Crucial Moment In Our History."

He said his decision was "a grave error in judgment."

Cover image via Tony Fernandes/Facebook

Earlier today, Tony Fernandes posted a video on his Facebook as a response to public outcry over a video he appeared in pre-GE14

In a slightly less than eight-minute-long video uploaded on his official Facebook page, the AirAsia Group CEO has apologised for "buckling" at the crucial moment.

"I'm not someone who runs away from difficult situations, from times that we need to stand up and be counted. Today is one of them.

"I'm sorry for what has gone on. I buckled at the crucial moment in our history. And I think it's right for me to try and explain what happened over the last few weeks," Tony says at the beginning of his video message.

Tony claims that while he had been under pressure many times before, he always withstood it when he fought against authorities

"I've been under pressure many, many times before. But I've withstood it.

"People have seen it in the newspapers when I fought regulators and governments authorities. Always in the name of trying to get more people to fly.

"It was hard, I never really buckled. So people are asking me why did I buckle at this crucial time in our history," Tony says while referring to the recently concluded 14th general elections which saw Malaysians vote out BN for the first time.

"There are no real excuses, but I will tell you how I felt leading up to those decisions."

"AirAsia is in a very regulated industry. An industry where almost everything requires the approval of the government. From flights to airport taxes to routes. And so it is never very easy running an airline. And one must always support the government of the day."

According to Tony, after Rafidah Aziz (Senior Independent Non-Executive Chairman of AirAsia X), was seen supporting Pakatan Harapan’s campaign, he was asked to remove her from her post.

However, as Rafidah started getting more and more involved in PH’s campaigns, the pressure on him grew exponentially, Tony claims in the video.

"The second point that led to this grave error of judgment was when the rakyat came to us asking for more flights at a low fare. I decided that was the right thing to do. I knew it wouldn’t be popular with the government. But I felt as an airline, we have to serve the people and at this time, people really wanted to go back."

He then said that the Malaysian Aviation Commission, Mavcom, summoned AirAsia to cancel those flights.

"That put us again under tremendous pressure. We had both Rafidah where we didn't buckle and we have put in these extra flights to carry the rakyat home, at low fares."

Tony also explained that his decision to unveil an exclusive AirAsia plane in Kota Kinabalu was to protect the jobs of his staff

"So, foolishly, I thought by doing the video, which I felt was fairly neutral and factual and the plane from Kota Kinabalu would appease the government and protect the jobs of our Allstars and more importantly, the very essence of allowing more than 80 million people to fly every year with low fares," Tony says in the video which at the time of publication had been viewed over 800,000 times and had more than 23,000 shares.

"I buckled. It wasn't right, I will forever regret it," the AirAsia GCEO says, adding that however, the decision made "on the spur of the moment" to protect AirAsia that has given so much to Malaysia

"I apologise once again for the pain and the hurt I caused. My views, as I said earlier, are very much the same as all of your views.

"I look forward to a fantastic new Malaysia. A Malaysia that gives everyone a chance," Tony says in the video while promising to "make up for this error of judgment."

Dear Malaysians, this is the awaited reply from me. This video explains why I made one of the toughest decisions ever for me. I’d also like to thank everyone who has continued to support me which meant so so much to me. AirAsia will continue to do its best to make millions of dreams come true. Love, Tony

Posted by Tony Fernandes on Sunday, 13 May 2018

This video by Tony comes two days after Syed Saddiq took to his Instagram to explain how he was actually an "unspoken hero"

In his Instagram post on 11 May, the newly elected Muar MP came to Tony's defence.

Unspoken hero- Tony Fernandes. . . I’d like to share with you something i have been keeping to myself for a while now. I couldn’t share it before because we were imprisoned by the politics of fear. Activist, politicians and businessmen who were not in line with the ruling party’s ideology were threatened and pushed to a corner. . . I must share this now as i can’t stand witnessing a hero get wrongfully accused. . . This is a story that many don’t know. I had to keep it a secret, but in this new era, an era where your right to speak is being uphold, it is time for change. . . This is about Tan Sri Tony Fernandes. . . He was among the first persons that came to the aid of Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin when Tan Sri was punished for speaking truth to power. . . He was once again a hero when AirAsia offered discounted flights and added flights during the election period. This infuriated some people in DS Najib’s circle. It became worse when DS Shafie’s (WARISAN) team uploaded a poster thanking this move as it meant that more WARISAN supporters can fly back home to vote. . . It didn’t stop there. He refused to fire Tan Sri Rafidah Aziz after she spoke openly against Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak despite being pressured to do so. . . He remained vigilant. . . Those actions came with a cost and he has to pay for it. . . He was pushed to a corner where he had to openly declare his support for the then ruling government. He had to take a video and his staffs had to change their uniforms. Pictures of the whole event were taken without the right context. . . Please Malaysia, don’t label him as a pengkhianat. . . This story is based on my own personal knowledge. TS Tony has helped us from the start, but can’t disclose it to the public due to the fear of repression. I leave it to the Malaysian people to judge. . . But what I can promise you is this.. the start of this new era will ensure that your right to openly criticise the government will be guaranteed. You can openly endorse opposition parties without the fear of being persecuted. . . We want a strong opposition. So businessmen, feel free to support any side. We are now living in a new Malaysia.

A post shared by Syed Saddiq (@syedsaddiq) on

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