Terminal approval slammed

(The Straits Times) – Former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad yesterday slammed the Malaysian government for approving a new budget terminal in Negeri Sembilan without explaining properly how the decision was made.

Tun Dr Mahathir asked why a new low-cost carrier terminal (LCCT) at the existing Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) in Sepang was not more suitable. Or perhaps, a former big airport at Subang in Selangor could be reopened.

The comments on his blog came a day after local conglomerate Sime Darby said the Malaysian Cabinet had approved its plan to build a new LCCT in Labu, Negeri Sembilan. The RM1.6 billion (S$673 million) terminal is to be built on Sime Darby's land and will be called KLIA East@Labu.

AirAsia and several no-frills carriers are currently using an LCCT in Selangor, about 20km from the KLIA.

Budget carrier AirAsia and Sime Darby had announced last month that they wanted to develop and operate the new budget terminal in Negeri Sembilan. And then on Monday, airport operator Malaysian Airports Berhad (MAB) raised eyebrows by saying it has the funds to build a new LCCT near KLIA. MAB operates all domestic airports as well as KLIA.

Dr Mahathir wrote yesterday: 'Maybe the government can enlighten us why Sepang or even Subang is not suitable…What happens to the (existing) low-cost terminal at KLIA we have built only recently with such great speed? Do we close it down or do we transport the whole lot to Labu?'

Veteran opposition leader Lim Kit Siang also published a letter in his blog asking the government to be transparent about the Labu airport decision.

Separately, Sime Darby said it has withdrawn plans to buy a stake in Malaysia's National Heart Institute (IJN). The Malaysian government had said last month it would delay making a decision to sell the IJN stake, following strong public objections.