(Melaka, Friday): Three days ago, on June 30, 1998, I walked out of the world’s latest and most sophisticated state-of-the-art international airport, the Kuala Lumpur International Airport, dubbed "the airport of the next century" because it could not even function properly as the airport of the present. I walked out of KLIA in disgust and cancelled my flight to Penang, although I had already checked in, in protest at the chaos and mess where everything that could go wrong went wrong and the much-touted Total Airport Management System (TAMS) became Total Airport Mess System!
I call on the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad to direct that a White Paper on the magnitude and causes of the KLIA chaos in the first four days of operations, and what actions had been taken to prevent any recurrence of the KLIA being turned into a shambles, be presented to Parliament when it meets on July 13 for a full debate in Parliament on the latest scandal in the country.
June 30, 1998 - the first day of operation of the RM9 billion KLIA - would stand as a day of shame for Malaysia symbolising "Malaysia Tidak Boleh"! I do not think it would be easy for find another international airport whose first day of operations is as shameful and disgraceful as the KLIA when planes were kept in a holding pattern circling KLIA for up to an hour before being allowed to land, passengers were locked in the aircraft for up to three hours because of breakdown of the aerobridge and aircraft bay allocation systems, delays of up to five hours to wait for the luggage, queues of up to 30 minutes just to buy a ticket for a taxi and queues of over two hours to get a taxi - a total of 11 to 12 wasted hours when one can fly all the way to London!
I am shocked that the Transport Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Ling Liong Sik and the airport authorities had tried to downplace the magnitude of the mess in the first days of operations of the KLIA by dismissing it as "teething problems". I would like to ask Liong Sik to explain what would be the "major problems" if the multiple catastrophes with the breakdown of all the essential services at the KLIA last Tuesday were merely "teething problems"!
The KLIA is a very impressive airport with futuristic features, but with a very lousy management and operations. The KLIA is so huge and vast, but so empty of the human touch, with no proper signages necessary to make it functional, that everyone feel lost and helpless. Even the former Transport Minister, Lee San Choon, who went to the KLIA on the second day on July 1 to take a flight to Hong Kong was completely lost at the airport!
The Minister for Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs, Datuk Megat Junid, should lead a team to check on the exorbitant prices at KLIA to reduce them to reasonable levels.