(TMI) - Here we go again. Let's fly the idea of Putrajaya selling the loss-making Malaysia Airlines (MAS) to corporate Malaysia because after several turnaround plans, the flag carrier is still plunging in a sea of red ink. Except that has been done before, nearly 20 years ago, to then whizkid Tan Sri Tajudin Ramli. The government got burnt in the process, big time.
Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad should be the last person Putrajaya should be listening to about privatising MAS, again. Wasn't he the PM when Tajudin took control of MAS by buying Bank Negara's 32% share for RM1.8 billion in 1994?
Tajudin sold back the controlling shares to Putrajaya for RM8 per share instead of the market value of RM3.68 a share in 2001, equal to his RM1.8 billion spent in 1994 despite the national carrier's losses.
In 1994, the government sold its MAS stake to Tajudin in one of the attempts to reverse the weak financial position vulnerable to rising labour costs, higher interest rates and reluctant lenders.
In 2001, the bailout was done to turn the flag carrier around.
"People don't lose money for nothing but the takeover was very urgent because we had to turn the company around," the former prime minister said last year of the move to buy MAS back at more than twice the market value at a cost of RM1.8 billion.
So why are we talking about the private sector taking over MAS again?