9th July 1998
YB Tun Mohamad Zahir Ismail,
Yang di Pertua.
"That the House gives leave to the Parliamentary Opposition Leader and MP for Tanjong, Lim Kit Siang, to move a motion of urgent, definite public importance on the RM9 billion Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) breakdowns on the first day and first week of its operations for the following reasons on grounds of urgent, definite public importance:
"The first day of operations of the KLIA, described by the government as ‘the airport of the next century’ and ‘a truly first-class airport and probably the best in the world’, was a catastrophic chaos and mess 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, the breakdown of the flight information display system, the gates allocation system, no food or refreshments for passengers, the horror story of the KLIA cargo complex with its mountainous load of rotting vegetables and fruits as well as dead fish and tortoises for nine days.
"Although the Transport Minister, YB Datuk Seri Dr. Ling Liong Sik claimed on the fourth day of the KLIA operations on Friday July 3, that the KLIA was operating at 85% capacity and on the fifth day that the KLIA was operating at 100% capacity, this was clearly not the case as could be testified by passengers who told me that the KLIA was ‘just not ready for operation’ when I personally had to use KLIA on July 5 and 6 in my to-and-fro flight to Sibu.
"The monumental chaos and mess at the KLIA on the first day and first week of its operations are most inexcusable since as far back as July 1997, the Transport Minister had boasted that the KLIA will have the world’s most sophisticated and fastest baggage handling system. In January 1998, the Transport Minister expressed satisfaction with the results of the tests of the baggage-handling system which scored 98.7 per cent success rate. The question is how a 1.3 per cent failure rate during intensive tests translated into an almost 100 per cent failure rate during the first days of operations of KLIA.
"Furthermore, the Transport Minister had said that the baggage handling system was part of another world’s first airport system - the RM700 million Total Airport Management System (TAMS) but what Malaysians and the world saw on the first day and first week of the KLIA operations was Total Airport Mess System or Total Airport Mismanagement System.
"What is amazing is that at first, both the Transport Minister and the Malaysian Airport Berhad Management pointed their finger at the breakdown of the state-of-the-art TAMS , which is supposed to integrate 41 systems with 1,600 interfaces some of which are among the most sophisticated in the world - including the flight information display system (FIDS), the baggage information display system (BIDS), parking and ground allocation system, passenger check-in system, air traffic management system, track transit system, electronic commerce system and gate allocation system.
"However, when the TAMS operator Sapura Tomen Harris (STH) Consortium denied that TAMS broke down on the first day of KLIA’s operations, blaming it on the non-TAMS sub-systems, the question that arose is whether the Transport Minister and the Malaysian Airport authorities understand what is the nature of the RM700 million TAMS.
"It is most shocking that the authorities had tried to downplay the gravity of the KLIA chaos and mess in the first days of operations by dismissing them as ‘teething problems’ or blaming them on "negative reporting" by the local press, and the Transport Minister owes Malaysians an explanation 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’!
"While it is fortunate for Malaysia that KLIA is not alone and has now the company of the Hong Kong International Airport at Chek Lap Kok in running into a chaotic and messy situation on the first days of its operations, we cannot feel complacent and proud that we are in good company, as KLIA missed the opportunity to show the world that KLIA is more efficient and technologically advanced than even HKIA if we had made better preparations and the KLIA is really ready before starting operations without any major hitches - even if the commercial operations at KLIA is later than HKIA..
"It is therefore a matter of urgent definite public importance that
there should be a full accounting of the monumental chaos and mess at the
KLIA from the first day of the operations on Tuesday, the causes, the magnitude
of the chaos and mess, what actions had been taken to ensure that there
would be no recurrence, to restore national and international confidence
in the KLIA not only as an airport for the next century, but also as an
airport for the present."
Lim Kit Siang
Parliamentary Opposition Leader