I must admit I used to have a not so good an opinion of Hisham who was the former Minister for Home Affairs. He blundered on many occasions like unsheathing a keris ( a traditional Malay blade) and kissed it during an UMNO Youth Assembly , ostensibly to defend the Malays’ rights much to the consternation of the non-Malays. And then his non-action on cow head protesters in Selangor and later on his weak and soft response to the Sulu Invasion in Sabah.
In fact he was dubbed as, humiliatingly, a Minister of Warning. Yes, he only issued warnings but no action followed when his warnings were not heeded. He was perceived as slow, clueless, not transparent and indecisive.
Somehow, Hisham has kinda matured in the face of the international onslaught on the questions relating to the mysterious disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 on 08 March enroute from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. He handled the press conferences in a calm manner and appeared to have come prepared with the answers to the persistent volley of questions.
From the chaotic first few days of the press conference chaired by some senior civil servant, Hisham was a welcoming presence. He should have taken the lead on day one. And yes, he spoke in crisp and flawless English, something we can be proud of at the global level. I remember being highly embarrassed when a former Minister spoke in atrocious English on AlJazeera.
I suppose people need to go through crises in order to lead. Experiences and a calm demeanor are invaluable for anyone in the situation. I hope Hisham will continue to show us his leadership skills in managing problems faced by the country at both the domestic and global level. He is notably far better in handling the press than Najib.
Now what I am watching is how Hisham, an acting Transports Minister is handling the recalcitrant boss of Air Asia, Tony Fernandes. The latter has refused to move his Air Asia operations to the new LCCT that is KLIA2 on the set deadline, by 09 May 2014, citing safety and security issues.
I am very relieved to note that Hisham and MAHB have decisively responded by focussing on AirAsia’s specific contention. And so they are bringing in an international panel to assess and evaluate those two issues, (Read here). Bravo, Hisham! Firmness doesn’t mean you are arrogant, it simply demonstrates that you do not take “shits” from the likes of Fernandes who loves to carry his weight around.
The Star being Fernandes’s paper is very meek in putting up that heading ” Move follows AirAsia’s dissatisfaction with structural issues”, if it were my paper I would headline it as ” Move is to dispel AirAsia’s safety contention“, in fact that heading still appears timid; perhaps this is better ” Move follows AirAsia’s fear of using KLIA2“, this would have included Tony’s fear of having to pay higher charges for using the new and better facilities there.
In any case, the critical factor now is for PM Najib to support his cousin, Hisham in dealing with Tony Fernandes. Hisham has won a lot of respect from the people in his Ministry and those connected in its areas of responsibility.
An interesting development took place recently when one of the opposition MPs tweeted that AirAsia was lobbying opposition MPs in a bid to get political support in their confrontation with the BN government on issues relating to KLIA2. Instead of resolving problems amicably with the government, Tony chooses to use the opposition to fight for his demands. Another glaring attempt to up the ante and highlight, rather pathetically, his boundless recalcitrance.
Najib’s BN government and the Acting Minister of Transportation, Hisham, on the other hand, must remain steadfast because the whole of Malaysia is watching this tussle. We elect you and not Tony Fernandes to represent our public interests and aspirations.