Najib indicates rethink over AirAsia’s Labu terminal (via TMI).

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 23 — Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak said today the government has yet to decide on whether to allow the go-ahead for the proposed new low-cost carrier terminal to be built in Labu, Negri Sembilan.

His remarks today is the clearest indication yet that the government is considering a reversal of its earlier approval for budget carrier AirAsia to built its own LCCT in light of mounting controversy and an escalation of hostilities between various government-linked companies.

“No formal decision yet, we are studying the matter from all angles, to see if we should go ahead or make a different arrangement,” Najib told reporters after witnessing the handing over of an amphibious aircraft by Bombardier Canada to the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency.

The proposed LCCT, planned to be operational by 2011, is a joint-venture project between AirAsia and Sime Darby Bhd and would cost RM1.6 billion.

The airline says the new airport is necessary as it is expected to serve close to 20 million passengers by 2011, four million more than the current LCCT can handle after its expansion.

Although a private project, it has been sharply criticised.

The government investment arm Khazanah Nasional has also opposed the construction of the airport, citing connectivity problems.

The proximity of the airport, dubbed Terminal Rakyat by the airline, to the existing Kuala Lumpur International Airport has also raised safety concerns, but AirAsia has rebutted the claim, saying that the distance between the two airports’ runways is in accordance with the international standard.

One way or another, the dispute will be resolved next week after AirAsia meets Najib.

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Isn’t a DPM an important integral post within the Federal Government who should in fact be very, very privy to Cabinet decisions? Especially if such a decision entails a project costing RM1.6 billion, presumably a PFI, which apparently will not cost a single cent of taxpayers’ monies.

The more I read of this Sime Darby Chronicles, firstly the IJN takeover bid which vanished within a few days prior to the KT by-election and the ongoing Air Asia LCCT in Labu, the more I smell an elaborate scheme to make NTR look damn good for the job as PM by March ’09.

I wonder which PR firm got this job and whether it pays RM250,000 per month like what I hear Fox Media got from Sime Darby. Heck, there might even be a ‘sub-con’ service involved. Honor among thieves, some would say.

Anywayz, it’s good to see the DPM following the footsteps of his boss. That’s what I call true loyalty, at least until the right ‘kaching’ comes through.

Oh well…… Gotta run and check where the pong is coming from.