1. Terlebih dahulu izinkan saya merakamkan ucapan berbanyak terima kasih kepada pihak Kementerian Pengangkutan Malaysia dan Jabatan Penerbangan Awam atau Department of Civil Aviation yang lebih dikenali dengan singkatannya DCA, kerana telah sudi menjemput saya menghadiri majlis sambutan “100 Years Of Aviation” pada malam ini. Majlis ini saya kira amat bersejarah, kerana ia merupakan satu lagi penanda aras kemajuan negara kita. Setelah 100 tahun berlalu sejak penerbangan pertama yang direkodkan di tanah Malaya, sektor penerbangan tanah air telah maju dan berkembang pesat, setaraf dengan negara-negara maju di dunia.
2. Malaysia hari ini terkenal dengan lapangan terbang antarabangsa utamanya KLIA yang diiktiraf antara yang terbaik di dunia, dan kita juga memiliki syarikat-syarikat penerbangan yang ternama seperti Malaysia Airlines dan Air Asia. Yang paling dibanggakan ialah dalam sektor ini, hampir semua kakitangan, dari kumpulan kawalan penerbangan, kepada juruterbang, kepada jurutera penerbangan dan pembantu jurutera hinggalah kepada kakitangan penyelenggaraan, hampir kesuluruhannya dianggotai oleh anak-anak tempatan.
3. Saya kira, dalam banyak pencapaian-pencapaian yang telah kita catatkan sepanjang seratus tahun sejak mula kita kenali penerbangan, keterlibatan anak-anak tempatan inilah antara yang paling kita banggakan kerana ianya membuktikan dengan jelas bahawa rakyat Malaysia mampu berdiri sama tinggi dan duduk sama rendah dengan mana-mana bangsa pun di dunia, hatta dalam bidang yang begitu teknikal dan kompleks seperti penerbangan.
4. Sebelum meneruskan ucapan tentang Industri Penerbangan di Malaysia secara keseluruhannya, saya ingin menyentuh sedikit tentang perkara yang amat dekat di hati saya iaitu program latihan anak-anak Felda dalam bidang kejuruteraan penyelenggaraan pesawat, yang telah saya pacu sejak beberapa tahun yang lalu sebagai sebahagian dari inisiatif transformasi komuniti Felda yang kita usahakan. Saya mengimbas kembali dan masih ingat betapa ramai yang menyuarakan kesangsian samada anak-anak Felda mampu berjaya dalam bidang berteknologi tinggi ini.
5. Alhamdulillah, jelas sekali keyakinan saya terhadap warga Felda dan generasi muda anak-anak Felda tidak tersasar kerana malam ini juga, selain meraikan 100 tahun Penerbangan di Malaysia, kita juga meraikan pengiktirafan anak-anak FELDA oleh badan regulatori serta industri yang bertaraf antarabangsa. Saya difahamkan para jurutera penyengaraan pesawat terbang ini diterima bekerja oleh Malaysia Airlines, dan dengan itu sekaligus mereka menjadi modal insan yang sangat bernilai tinggi dan mampu meneroka peluang-peluang yang lebih hebat dalam bidang Penerbangan bukan sahaja di Malaysia, malah di peringkat antarabangsa.
6. Saya ingin mengambil kesempatan ini untuk mengucapkan setinggi-tinggi tahniah kepada anak-anak FELDA yang berjaya ini, dan juga kepada semua warga FELDA yang hadir. Kejayaan mereka ini membuktikan dengan jelas bahawa warga FELDA mampu melonjakkan taraf hidup dan pencapaian mereka jika mereka mempunyai keyakinan diri dan iltizam untuk berusaha dalam apa jua bidang sekalipun. InshaAllah, Kerajaan akan sentiasa berada disamping warga FELDA dalam membela untung nasib mereka dan mendorong generasi FELDA kearah kejayaan dalam pelbagai bidang dan industri.
Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,
7. I am delighted to be able to join all of you for this historic celebration of 100 Years of Aviation in Malaysia. I am sure that when G.P. Fuller landed his Antoinette Monoplane at the race course in Jalan Ampang Kuala Lumpur in 1911, he would never have imagined that Malaysian Aviation would be where it is today, or that in the vicinity of where his humble aircraft touched down, now stands the world’s tallest twin towers that proudly symbolizes the heights that Malaysia has managed to scale over the years.
8. As a matter of fact, aviation enthusiasts in those days would not have imagined that far from when the first civil aircraft, a Fokker FVII of KLM, landed on a bumpy grass strip in Alor Setar, Kedah in 1924, the hub of aviation a hundred years on would not remain in Kedah as it was then, but would instead flourish further south in what became the national capital after independence
9. Indeed we have come a long way, progressing along with the global advances in aviation, and this is made abundantly clear as we gather here today, at this hangar, which can actually hold two A380s and a Boeing 747 at one time. Yet The memories and romance of that bygone era of early aviation remain vivid in our minds. Who can forget the first flight to Europe from Sungei Besi airport in 1956. The birth of Malaysia Airlines System to replace the MSA in 1972. Subang International Airport with the winding passenger ramp, where so many historic events took place, and more recently the grand exodus from Subang to KLIA to mark the beginning of a new era of aviation in our country.
10. But as with all things in life we move on with the times and the aviation sector that we have today is almost unrecognizable from what it was a few decades ago. Globally, aviation technology progressed at remarkable speed and beyond all expectations, with rapid innovation being rolled out by aircraft manufacturers and players. This is to meet ever changing demands from passengers, as well as critical requirements of airlines and aircraft operators. In terms of business however, the aviation sector is not doing very well, to put it mildly, and it is today probably in the most challenging period in its entire history.
11. Economically speaking, aviation’s global economic impact is estimated at USD 3.5 trillion, equivalent to 7.5% of World Gross Domestic Product (GDP) annually. It supports 32 million jobs across the globe and is an important contributor to the growth and development of nations.
12. In Malaysia we are cognizant of the fact that aviation infrastructure is critical to national development and global integration. Malaysia has reaped the benefits from air links that have expanded our export markets globally and generated a boom in our tourism industry. Last year overall passenger traffic across all our airports grew 12% to over 57 million passengers . KLIA alone recorded over 34 million passenger movements, up 14.8% from the previous year, with 60 carriers now operating from this world class facility. The fact of the matter is that the national aviation sector has a high multiplier effect of 12.5 times to the overall Malaysian economy in terms of tourism, infrastructure and logistics development. The tourism sector continues to perform strongly, recording 24.6 million tourist arrivals with total receipts of RM56.5billion in 2010. Meanwhile, we continue to take a strong position in the global Maintenance, Repair & Overhaul (MRO) with, among other things, the transformation of the Subang Airport facility into the Malaysia International Aerospace Center which is a hub housing local and global MRO companies. 136 MRO companies of various sizes, of which 40 are local firms, operate from MIAC.
13. Encouraging though all this may be, the reality of aviation today is that it mired in a host of problems. Too big to fail, yet too complex and costly to sustain, the aviation sector is again in the throes of dilemma, needing to move forward yet held back by clawing and unrelenting challenges that fluctuate erratically. From fuel prices, to security threats, to natural disasters and disease outbreaks, never before has aviation faced so much peril in such a short span of time. On many occasions in the last decade, global industry-wide paralysis was a very real possibility. As this unfolded, hundreds of airlines perished amid financial and economic turbulence, as governments and aviation players worked together to find long-term, sustainable solutions to keep the industry afloat.
14. In Malaysia, as you all are aware, the landscape of aviation is also undergoing change, most notably with the recent corporate exercise involving the national carrier Malaysia Airlines, and the home-grown low cost carrier Air Asia. I will not comment on the issue here, but suffice to say that the moves made were not without serious thought and consideration on the best outcome that could be derived. We want Malaysia Airlines not only to survive but also to thrive for a long time to come. And we also want Air Asia, a Malaysian product, to remain a leader in the no-frills sector. Rest assured that the government is ever vigilant of various developments taking place in the industry and we will do our part to ensure the strengthening of this sector from various aspects.
Ladies and gentlemen,
15. In the context of these developments in aviation, the regulatory environment for aviation must be attuned to changes and must be dynamic and swift in its responses. Indeed the regulatory aspect of aviation is a critical element in building a strong and resilient aviation sector. I am delighted that our Department of Civil Aviation has been able to live up to expectations and played its role well. Our DCA is highly regarded and well respected by aviation regulators world-wide, as reflected by our election to the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) Council since 2007.
16. lndeed we are extremely proud of the exemplary safety record that we have managed to uphold under the vigilance of the DCA. In fact, as I understand it, safety and security audits by ICAO on Malaysia produced remarkable results and we attained the coveted Category I Certification in the International Aviation Safety Audit by the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Tonight the DCA continues to further strengthen its role with the formal introductions of two more regulations for the maintenance area and I am certain this reflects the dynamism of the DCA in responding to changes and developments in the industry. I hope that the DCA continues on this path of excellence, as it plays its role not only as regulators of the industry players but also as the responsible authority in producing talented and capable human capital in the maintenance and safety segment of this fascinating industry.
Ladies and gentlemen,
17. At this juncture in the progress of our aviation industry, and given the landscape that we have and the maturity of many segments in the sector, I believe that it is timely for us to formally put in place a National Aviation Policy. As we move forward in a most uncertain and volatile time for this sector, it is essential that a comprehensive policy defining all the key aspects of aviation, its direction, objectives and long term strategies be laid out for the clarity of all of Malaysia’s aviation stakeholders.
18. Towards that end, the Government through the Ministry of Transport intends to formulate such a policy as soon as possible and I believe the Ministry has initiated several consultations and discussions with various parties concerned and a policy framework will take shape in the very near future. I am certain that a comprehensive National Aviation Policy will give us an important boost as we take the next step forward to a brighter and more defined future for Malaysian aviation, and I look forward to unveiling this policy after all inputs, views and concerns from all stakeholders have been considered and evaluated.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
19. If we take a look back at the last one hundred years, we can be proud of what this country has achieved. No one would have imagined how far we would come, given the state that we were in then. But we confounded all our critics and today, in aviation as well as in various other areas, we stand no less than some of the most developed countries in the world. What we have today is not just because of the policy of leaders and the efficiency of managers; it is also as much the result of the hard work of the ordinary aviation worker in every area of the industry. I would like to take this moment to recognize and thank each and every person who has played a role, big or small in making our aviation sector what it is today.
20. Once again I thank the Ministry of Transport and the DCA for inviting me here today. Let us all rejoice in our accomplishments of the past century, and let us pray for a hundred more years of Malaysian excellence in Aviation.