TIME passes so very quickly in this fast moving world.
It feels as if it was only yesterday that I landed at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) and had to wait nearly an hour to disembark.
I was arriving from Hong Kong on the Cathay Pacific jetliner and the delay was attributed to the aerobridge. But my suspicion was on the operator.
This was the evening of the first day of the airport’s operation on June 27, 1998.
A few days before that editors and journalists were taken on a tour of the facility and were given the assurance that the “big move” from Subang at midnight and the operation from KLIA the next morning would be smooth and seamless.
The proud (and patriotic), the editors and journalists duly reported the operators’ assurance.
The sight of the imposing space-age structure in the middle of nowhere provoked a sense of patriotism and awe.
Soon after the visit, I took off for the last time from the iconic Subang International Airport for the board meeting of Asia Magazine Limited in Hong Kong.
The now defunct weekly magazine was the joint venture among the New Straits Times Press (Malaysia) Berhad (NSTP), the Singapore Press Holdings Limited (SPH), and the South China Morning Post (SCMP).
|Once upon a time a Sunday must-read in Malaysia|
I was the Group Editor of the New Straits Times Sdn Bhd and sat on the board of the magazine.
It was during one of these board meetings that I called on the then controlling shareholder of SCMP, Mr Robert Kuok Hock Nien.
I wrote about the delay in the tone that didn’t please many in authority and was, in no uncertain term, told off.
I was accused of being unfair for not recognising the airport’s teething problems.
To me, being criticised, told off and chased away had been part and parcel of my growing up, maturing and survival in the rough and tumble of the journalism world.
So yesterday (August 13), sitting among the guests of Malaysia Airports Holdings Berhad (MAHB) to join the Prime Minister, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad in belatedly commemorating the 21st anniversary of the opening of the airport, I felt an acute sense of nostalgia and achievement.
How quickly time passes and how, in some small ways, I have been part and parcel of so many events that shaped this beloved country of ours.
At 21, KLIA has matured. It is many times larger than it originally was. From 13 million passengers in the first full year of operations, it now handles 60 million passengers and has the capacity of handling up to 75 million at its two terminals.
But undeniably it is also getting a bit old and tired. Gladly, however, things should be looking up not the least because the Prime Minister himself is paying keen attention to its revival.
Thank you to the many parties that saw it fit to share their hopes, aspirations and, not the least, their disappointments about KLIA in particular and the aviation industry in general, with me.
Thank you for sharing.
Allow me to make a mention of MAHB, Malaysia Airlines, Air Asia and Malaysia Aviation Commission (Mavcom).
Having listened to them and, yesterday, to the briefing by the Group Chief Executive Officer of MAHB, Raja Azmi Raja Nazuddin, and the speeches by Dr Mahathir and the Chairman of MAHB, Tan Sri Zainun Ali, I must say that my hopes and confidence are renewed.
And if my two-sen worth of advice is at all relevant, let me say this. Consultation is better than confrontation and negotiation is better than litigation.
With so many iconic global brands like Alibaba, Airbus, Dassault and Boeing coming to invest in our aviation-related activities, it would be a big shame if the local participants are unable to put their act together.
Still, happy anniversary to KLIA and thank you to all.