AirAsia CEO Francis "Tony" Fernandes regrets Supporting former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak
By: Sarah Brunner and S.Harding Xiro Xone News May 15, 2018 Updated: 8:21 AM PT
AirAsia CEO Tony Fernandes, apologized for supporting defeated Prime Minister Najib Razak of the United Malays National Organization.
The former team principle of the Caterham Formula One team posted a seven-minute video on his personal Facebook page. At one point in the video Fernandes said “Foolishly I thought by doing the video - which I felt was fairly neutral and factual - and the plane from Kota Kinabalu would appease the government and protect the jobs of allstars (AirAsia staff) and more importantly, the very essence of allowing more than 80 million people to fly every year with low fares," he said.
"Under the intense pressure, I buckled. It wasn’t right, I'll forever regret it. "I apologise once again for the pain and the hurt I caused."
The former Prime Minister was considered a Trumplike figure and was friends with the American President since 2014. Prime Minister Razak received a photo of Trump with an inscription that read, “To my favorite prime minister.” While still in power, Prime Minister Razak visited with Trump at the White House in 2017, but the visit did not translate into votes on election-day when, Razak and his party lost their grip on the Malaysian government after 60 years.
Fernandes openly supported Razak’s ruling party who had been in control for six decades. He and Razak’s photos were seen on AirAsia’s aircraft along with Razak’s campaign slogan. Fernandes went on to say, because of stringent regulations in an industry that requires government approval, he was “Foolish to think that his endorsement would appease the government and protect jobs.”
Malaysian voters and business owners found it hard to blame Fernandes for supporting Najib who had total control over regulations regarding his business. Prime Minister Razak controlled the courts and government resources. He imprisoned political opponents, shut out journalists he did not like, and instilled fear.
AirAsia stocks fell as much as 13% from their last trading price on Tuesday, the day before the
elections, then picked up a bit the following Monday afternoon, still down by 4 percent.
According to newly elected Prime Minister Mahathir, he plans to lead the Malaysia government for one or, two years, at most. Mohammad anticipates the filing of charges against his predecessor Najib Razak for, theft of 1Malaysia Development Berhad, the government investment fund.
Razak, the candidate endorsed by AirAsia CEO Tony Fernandes has been accused of stealing approximately $700 million from a state investment fund. The U.S. Department of Justice made the same accusation but put the figure closer to 7.5 billion.
Time and the stock value of AirAsia will help determine whether Fernandes endorsement of Najib Razak, will have a negative impact on Fernandes and his business or, if all has been forgiven.