PM: Government jet bought as old aircraft became ‘safety hazard’

The Malaysian government’s new Airbus Corporate Executive jetliner (ACJ 320) makes its the first official flight by ferrying Yang di-Pertuan Agong Tuanku Abdul Halim Mu'adzam Shah to Langkawi from Alor Star, May 17, 2014. — Bernama pic
The Malaysian government’s new Airbus Corporate Executive jetliner (ACJ 320) makes its the first official flight by ferrying Yang di-Pertuan Agong Tuanku Abdul Halim Mu'adzam Shah to Langkawi from Alor Star, May 17, 2014. — Bernama pic

KUALA LUMPUR, May 17 — Datuk Seri Najib Razak said today that the government purchased a new jet because the 16-year-old aircraft that it replaced was turning into a safety hazard.

The prime minister said the cost of maintaining an old aircraft is high and pointed out that the Yang di-Pertuan Agong also uses the official jet, giving Putrajaya all the more reason not to compromise on safety and security.

“We must not be taken in by the opposition propaganda that the government was wasting money on a new jet,” Najib wrote on his blog today that listed answers to 13 questions on various issues plaguing his administration.

“The cost of maintaining an old aircraft is high. Hence, the older aircraft is being disposed of and the money the government makes from its sale will clearly reduce the cost paid for the new aircraft,” the prime minister added.

National newswire Bernama quoted the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) as saying last March that the Airbus corporate jetliner was bought to replace the 16-year-old Boeing business jet, after Pakatan Rakyat (PR) lawmakers questioned the purchase.

Najib said today that it is standard practice for world leaders to use official jets for efficiency in carrying out their duties and not for luxury.

“The aircraft’s interior is configured such that meetings and discussions can be held on board and that the work of state can continue even during the flight. Therefore the question does not arise as to whether or not a country should have an official jet,” he said.

On the claim that his 1Malaysia slogan is the same as the “Malaysian Malaysia” slogan, Najib said the former accepts the Federal Constitution in its entirety whereas the latter was a concept originally opposed to Article 153 on the special position of the Malays and other Bumiputeras.

“Had 1Malaysia been exactly like Malaysian Malaysia, there would not have been a Majlis Permerkasaan Bumiputera, Teraju and others.

"Had 1Malaysia been exactly like Malaysian Malaysia, there would not have been the New Economic Model (NEM), a framework to increase inclusivity in the economy but at the same time empower the Bumiputera community to be more competitive,” said the prime minister.

Najib also denied claims that crime rates have gone up since the Internal Security Act (ISA) was abolished, saying that crime fell by 12.6 per cent last year, while violent crime rates dropped by 13.4 per cent.

“To ensure that violent extremism has no place in Malaysia, the government has introduced the Prevention of Terrorism Act 2015, which has been passed by Parliament.

This Act will combat new challenges, including the rise of the Islamic State militant group and will not be used for political ends. Only those who raise the threat of violent extremism can be detained under this new Act,” he said.