AirAsia boss Tony Fernandes apologises after Thai CEO hurls F-bomb at female colleague in online meeting

Tony Fernandes said he called the female employee shortly after the meeting to apologise for Bijleveld’s conduct. — Picture by Firdaus Latif
Tony Fernandes said he called the female employee shortly after the meeting to apologise for Bijleveld’s conduct. — Picture by Firdaus Latif

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PETALING JAYA, July 27 — AirAsia Group boss Tan Sri Tony Fernandes has apologised for the behaviour of the airline’s Thailand chief executive officer (CEO) Tassapon Bijleveld during a virtual town hall meeting.

Bijleveld was heavily criticised on social media after a clip of him dropping the F-bomb and telling a female colleague to “shut up” circulated online over the weekend.

Fernandes and AirAsia Digital president Aireen Omar were also present during the meeting, but did not call out Bijleveld’s behaviour at the time.

Fernandes told news outlet The Vibes that he spoke to Bijleveld after the incident to let him know his conduct was unacceptable.

“This is not the culture we want in AirAsia. What he did was wrong and he apologised,” said the airline tycoon.

Fernades also disagreed with claims that Bijleveld’s behaviour was “sexist,” saying that the Thai CEO would’ve uttered the same profanities towards a male employee.

“Of course the language used was not right but I know Tassapon. 

“He would say the same thing to a male staffer.”

Fernandes added that it’s now up to AirAsia’s board of directors to decide if further action needs to be taken against Bijleveld.

A screen capture of the virtual town hall meeting which was said to be attended by around 500 people. — Screen capture via Twitter
A screen capture of the virtual town hall meeting which was said to be attended by around 500 people. — Screen capture via Twitter

In the town hall meeting video, Bijleveld cursed out a female employee and repeatedly interrupted her as she spoke about AirAsia’s acquisition of Gojek Thailand and its impact on the airline’s logistics company Teleport.

A search on LinkedIn shows that the employee in question is a senior manager at Teleport.

“What’s your f***ing question? Come on. What’s your question? Come on, don’t talk a lot,” said Bijleveld in the clip.

He also told the employee to “shut up” when she began speaking in Thai.

Bijleveld then asked Fernandes to answer the question, though it is unclear whether the female employee even intended to ask one in the first place.

Fernandes said that everyone in the call was taken aback by Bijleveld’s behaviour and that he immediately phoned up the female employee after the meeting to apologise for what happened.

A WhatsApp screenshot of an internal memo for AirAsia staff also showed that Bijleveld had released a video apology two weeks after the incident.

“We will ensure that incidents of this nature do not happen again. 

“We sincerely apologise for everyone affected by the incident,” read the post.

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