Outgoing Malaysia Airlines CEO: I just want to 'balik kampung'

PHOTO: The Star/Asia News Network

PETALING JAYA - Outgoing Malay­sia Airlines Bhd (MAS) CEO Peter Bellew has denied his abrupt departure was due to interference in his management of the airline from major shareholder Khazanah Nasional Bhd and the Government.

He also refuted claims his departure was due to the memorandum of understanding (MoU) between Malaysia Airlines and the Boeing Company for aircraft purchases, which was witnessed by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak during his visit to the United States.

"That is completely untrue, 100 per cent incorrect. There is not one shred of truth in that statement (by Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad). There has been no interference," Bellew said.

The press conference was called because Bel­lew felt that there was a need to speak out one last time to counter allegations over his depar­ture.

"It was MAS' decision to buy or lease the aircraft,'' Bellew said.

"It is simple. I just want to balik kampung to my people.

"There is no mystery or intrigue in that.

"My family left in July and I want to be with them," he said.

"I have had no inter­ference from anyone on anything to do with running the business over the last two years.

"In fact, it is difficult to ask me to do anything.

"The only person who can ask me to do anything is my wife,'' he said.

Bellew is joining Dublin-based Ryanair on Dec 1 and he submitted his resig­­­nation to MAS chairman Tan Sri Md Nor Yusof on Oct 8.

Bellew said MAS did not an­nounce his resignation earlier because both Md Nor and Khazanah were trying to convince him to stay back.

Instead, Ryanair announced early this week that it was hiring Bellew as COO effective Dec 1.

He is currently on "garden leave" at MAS.

Bellew said MAS' decision to buy more aircraft was made by the airline because it will need more wide-body and narrow body aircraft over the next couple of years.

"Both the MAS chairman and I brought the MoU to Washington for the Prime Minister and he witnessed the signing," Bellew said.

"All came from MAS and it has nothing to do with anybody in Putrajaya.

"Dr Mahathir is completely wrong in his accu­sations made about me in the last 72 hours. He is 100 per cent wrong.''

He said no one connected to Dr Mahathir was in touch with him to verify the facts of the matter.

Dr Mahathir wrote in his blog on Friday claiming that Bellew quit MAS due to the Prime Minister's interference in the airline's management.

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