Tuesday, March 29, 2011
Tan Sri Rafidah Aziz is often refered as Malaysia's woman of steel and the iron lady of Malaysia.
She was a Federal Minister for 20 years and has been in the government for 32 years.
Most notabaly as Minister of International Trade and Industry since 1987 to 2008 when she was dropped after the March 2008 Malaysia's general election.
She was best memorized in the controversy surrounding Approved Permits, AP for the luxurious imported cars permits approved by her Ministry, way back in 2006.
Rafidah was also famous for her infamous spat with then United States Secretary of States Madeline Albright at the 1998 Asia Pacific Economic Corporation APEC Summit in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on November 1998.
Rafidah can take on anybody including the US Secretary of States and also perhaps the US President himself!!!
The 1998 infamous incident happened after Albright met the wife of the recently jailed Malaysian political leader, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.
In a gesture of solidarity, Albright talked briefly with Wan Azizah Ismail, whose husband, former Deputy Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim, was imprisoned in September 1998 and was then on trial for corruption and sex-related charges.
Shortly after the meeting, Albright had a caustic public exchange with Malaysia's Minister of Trade, Rafidah Aziz, about Anwar's treatment. ``The reporting on the trial of Anwar Ibrahim has given us great concern,'' Albright said at a news conference with other ministers.
Many Malaysians were then shocked and outraged when Anwar was denied bail and then appeared at his arraignment with a black eye and other bruises that he attributed to a police beating.
Rafidah responded that Anwar would get a fair trial, adding, ``Maybe when I go to the States, I would like to meet Ken Starr,'' referring to the independent prosecutor who was investigating then US President Bill Clinton.
"He's not in jail,'' Albright replied brusquely, to the surprise of hundreds of reporters who had turned up to hear an announcement of a new trade agreement involving the 21 countries at the meeting.
The ministers did announce a trade deal, though it fell far short of the sweeping agreement to lower tariffs that many countries were seeking.
Okay.. back to current times.
Y.B. Tan Sri Rafidah Aziz, is now Chairman of Air Asia X and on 3rd March 2011, the iron lady of Malaysia said getting new routes such as Sydney and Jeddah will be the main agenda for her as the new, independent and non executive chairman of AirAsia X.
Describing her appointment as one that would not just revolve around attending board meetings without knowing the directions of the company, Rafidah said she would be able to contribute much to the team.
“We are still awaiting approvals for several routes that we have applied for such as Sydney and Jeddah,” she told reporters tehn after welcoming former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad who visited AirAsia’s office and academy here on 3rd March 2011.
Rafidah said these routes were important for the country, as they could, besides being a link, bring in foreign investors and tourists from overseas.
“An economic spin-off would take place with the routes. Not only in terms of tourists expenditure but also the promotion of Malaysian products such as its services, hotels, transportation and so on.”
Business communities that give importance to low costs will definitely be attracted to using the services of AirAsia when having to travel to the country regularly before deciding on opening up their factory or investing here, she said.
“Not all investors go on first class. You can imagine how many people will come to realise the economic opportunities in Malaysia.”
Indeed, AirAsia will make Malaysia the hub for the transit of tourists travelling in the region, said Rafidah.
“Certainly the new routes will not become profitable and productive overnight but we can build them if we know that there is a market and demand.
This will be first agenda because we know there is huge potential,” she said.
The former Minister of International Trade and Industry said she took two weeks to decide on the offer made to her to take on the post in AirAsia X.
“I was attracted when offered to be the chairman of AirAsia X. Before making the decision, the management gave me a full briefing and I also visited AirAsia.
“I was impressed with the management style and business model and the measures taken to develop Airasia and AirAsia X. Only after this, did I decide to take on the position.”
Rafidah said this was the second posting she had taken up after becoming a board member of one of the subsidiary companies of Johor Corp two years ago.
Meanwhile AirAsia X intends to capitalise on Tan Sri Rafidah’s extensive international expertise, as Malaysia’s longest serving Minister of International Trade & Industry and her world-renown skills as a tough, no-nonsense, pragmatic and articulate international trade negotiator who completed many bilateral and multilateral trade agreements, as well as dealing with top-level executives of global multinational corporations to convince them to invest in Malaysia.
AirAsia X is the low-haul, low cost affiliate of AirAsia, Malaysia’s largest airline by market capitalization.
All the best Rafidah, All the best Malaysia and All the best Air Asia..