(Petaling Jaya, Sunday): Datuk Seri Dr. Ling Liong Sik had been the Minister for Public Relations rather than the Minister for Transport in the last five days of the chaos and mess at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport, for instance announcing on Friday that the KLIA was operating at 85% capacity when passengers were still facing the perennial problems of no proper flight information display, inefficient check-in and gate allocation, flight delays of four to five hours, passengers locked in their aircrafts after landing because of problems with aerobridge operations, baggage delays of up to four hours, etc.
Yesterday, Liong Sik intensified his P.R. (Public Relations) strategy for the KLIA by declaring that the "airport of the next century" was operating at 100% capacity when there were still widespread complaints about check-in service, flight information displays and flight delays.
This earned him today’s Mingguan Malaysia front-page headline of "KLIA pulih 100% - Operasi pengendalian pesawat dan penumpang berjalan lancar", which reports:
"Sepang 4 Julai - Operasi pengendalian pesawat dan penumpang di Lapangan Terbang Antarabangsa Kuala Lumpur (KLIA) di sini hari ini pulih 100 peratus, kata Menteri Pengangkutan, Datuk Seri Dr. Ling Liong Sik.
"’Penumpang sudah boleh tersenyum’, katanya yang turut tersenyum kerana berpuas hati dengan kelancaran sistem komputer yang sebelum ini sentiasa terganggu sejak lapangan terbang itu beroperasi lima hari lalu.
"Dengan perkembangan ini bermakna Dr.Ling mengotakan jaminan yang dibuatnya kelmarin bahawa operasi KLIA akan dapat dipulihkan dalam tempoh dua hari iaitu pada hari ini."
Liong Sik must be the only one person in the world to believe that the KLIA is now operating at 100% capacity and oblivious to the widespread complaints about the various essential airport services.
Although there had been continuous improvements in the various airport services in the past five days. Liong Sik should not mislead the travelling public into believing that the KLIA is now living up to the government’s boast as "a truly first-class airport and probably the best in the world".
It was Liong Sik himself who made this claim of KLIA as "a truly first-class airport and probably the best in the world" as far back as July last year, as published in the New Straits Times (NST) on 29th July 1997 in a report under the heading: "Advanced baggage handling system installed at KLIA".
This report quoted Liong Sik as announcing that the KLIA in Sepang had been equipped with a sophisticated Passenger and Baggage Reconciliation System which is a "fully-integrated baggage handling system which can pin-point a passenger’s luggage and retrieve it within seconds".
As Transport Minister, Liong Sik has not been able to give any satisfactory explanation as to why "the world’s most sophisticated and fastest baggage-handling system" not only failed to pin-point a passenger’s luggage and retrieve it within seconds, but turned out to be the world’s most sophisticated and slowest baggage-handling system requiring as long as five hours to retrieve luggages.
All Liong Sik could do was to be the Minister for Public Relations for KLIA by making assuring noises everyday claiming that there were less and less complaints but he is unable as Transport Minister to declare when KLIA will live up to its aim to be "a truly first-class airport and probably the best in the world", as he had been announcing for the past year?
It was this NST report of 29th July 1997 where Liong Sik announced that the world’s most sophisticated and fastest baggage-handling system was "incorporated into KLIA Berhad’s Total Airport Management System (TAMS)", adding: "KLIA Berhad evaluated and chose the best system available. There is no other technologically-competent system other than this."
This is why it is so shocking that last Friday’s newspapers reported the denial by TAMS operator Sapura Tomen Harris (STH) Consortium that TAMS had broken down on the first day of the airport’s commercial operations and caused the monumental chaos and mess at the KLIA, declaring that the baggage-handling system which broke down was a non-TAMS sub-system and that its breakdown should not be blamed on TAMS .
The STH managing director Shukor Karim asserted that the Consortium could only be responsible for 19 sub-systems, which had been rigorously tested and were working perfectly on June 30.
He said KLIA’s management system comprised both TAMS and non-TAMS sub-systems, which were designed, developed and installed by other operators and that STH could only be responsible for 19 sub-systems and not for the other 20 non-TAMS sub-systems (including the Baggage Handling System) which are interfaced to TAMS.
He said that the Baggage Handling System and Passenger Check-in Processing System, which were mainly blamed for the operational breakdown, were therefore not part of the TAMS network.
This sounds stupid and nonsensical even to the ordinary layman, for if this is the case, why call it Total Airport Management System when it is Minus 50 Per cent Airport Management System! It also makes a mockery of the earlier admissions by Liong Sik and the Malaysia Airports Berhad that the breakdown of TAMS was the primary cause of the KLIA chaos and mess since the first day of operations of the KLIA.
What is unbelievable is that Liong Sik seems to have bought the latest explanation by TAMS operator that although TAMS broke down, TAMS is not responsible because it was caused by the breakdown of non-TAMS sub-systems!
Liong Sik better do his homework and come to Parliament which meets
on July 13 to give a full and satisfactory explanation not only of
the shameful and disgraceful debut of the KLIA on June 30, but the outrageous
shirking of responsibility by everybody for the monumental chaos and mess
at the KLIA, especially the TAMS operator!
The press have reported that Hong Kong would today move into its sleek new international airport in a military-style overnight operation, where some 1,000 vehicles, 70 barges and 30 aircraft will make the move, starting this evening, from the old Kai Tak airport to the new US$20 billion airport at Chek Lap Kok, off Lantau island.