PUTRAJAYA, Nov 18 — Transport Minister Anthony Loke Siew Fook today clarified that Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s statement that the last time the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) conducted an audit on Malaysia’s aviation sector in 2016 is wrong. 

He said the last FAA audit was done 16 years ago in 2003 where Malaysia managed to maintain its Category 1 status.

Last week FAA downgraded Malaysia’s listing to Category 2 citing 33 outstanding issues that need to be rectified.

“I want to correct a statement made by the former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak. He said we passed an FAA audit in 2016.

“It’s not true. The last audit was in 2003 and in the past 16 years there have been no other audits,” Anthony told reporters after chairing a press conference to announce a new task force to oversee the 33 issues raised by the FAA and restore Malaysia to Category 1 within 12 months.

Najib took shots at the current administration’s failure to maintain Category 1 status and posted his thoughts on the issue on his official Facebook page on November 13.

He likened Malaysia’s current aviation industry to that of Ghana, Costa Rica and Bangladesh all of whom are also lower than Category 1.

He also said the downgrade was not due to the two plane crashes in 2014 as the FAA audit was done in 2016 when he was in office.

“When the last audit was done in 2003 Datuk Kok Soo Chon was the director-general of the Civil Aviation Malaysia and maintained our Category 1 status.

“He is an aviation veteran and will head our new task force. They will report to me and the transport ministry and once we’ve solved all our issues we will invite the FAA to reassess our status,” said Loke.

The task force will be headed by Kok on a pro-bono basis and will get the help of eight professionals who have yet to be appointed.

By downgrading to Category 2, Malaysia’s airlines will have difficulty attracting tourists to and from America as well as to other destinations.