Zaid Criticised for Criticism of AirAsia Pilot

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AirAsia chairman, the Minister of Transport and PAS Youth chief, among others, commended pilot of aborted Perth-KL flight versus Zaid’s disapproval.

In response to former law minister Datuk Zaid Ibrahim’s disapproval of the AirAsia pilot’s call for prayer, AirAsia chairman Datuk Kamarudin Meranun said there is nothing wrong with asking for divine intervention.

On Sunday, the AirAsia flight with 359 passengers onboard was forced to return to Perth 90 minutes into the journey, after it encountered an engine problem that caused the plane to shake “like a washing machine”, according to passengers.

Apparently, the pilot had asked passengers to pray for safety which Zaid had criticised in a series of tweets, adding that Air Asia should not condone such actions by its pilots.

“What is wrong with asking for prayers in whatever religion especially when you are in a tight position, seeking divine intervention while doing whatever humanly possible?” Kamarudin said in a post on his Facebook page.

“He was calm and in control, and as a believer, he asked everyone to pray with him as he guided the plane to safety. I would have done the same thing,” he said.

“Making statements is always easy when you are safely on the ground. Such a situation will never be easy to manage, but the objective was very clear…to land the aircraft safely and ensure the safety of all onboard,” Kamarudin said.

“As such, I stand by the pilot and his team as an individual and the management or shareholder of AirAsia,” he said.

The plane landed safely back in Perth and without casualties, although some passengers were reportedly traumatised by the experience.

Transport Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai also praised the AirAsia X pilot and cabin crew for their professionalism and courage in handling the emergency situation.

“The pilot had handled the issue with incredible professionalism and acted swiftly and proficiently to protect the safety of passengers onboard,” said Liow.

Zaid today took to Twitter to comment on PAS Youth chief Nik Abduh Nik Aziz’s remark that it was only normal to remember God during emergencies.

“Nik Abduh remembers God during emergencies; I remember God all the time,” Zaid said.

Zaid also explained his remarks on the pilot’s behaviour.

“When an engine is shaking, passengers would say a prayer, there is no need for a pilot to add on to the anxiety. That is what I meant,” Zaid said.

Saw Siow Feng/The Malay Mail Online

“The chairman of AirAsia says there is nothing wrong seeking divine intervention,” he said in a separate statement to FMT.

“Like Nik Abduh, he misses the point.

“The passengers had probably done so when the engine was about to fall off. Nothing wrong with that.

“But when the pilot enjoined everyone to do so, how would the passengers know he was in control and calm and collected? How would the passengers know he had not given up?”

In his initial tweets, Zaid said, “AirAsia pilot urged passengers to pray on distressed Perth flight. Good lord, I much prefer pilot don’t tell me death is imminent.”

He also mocked AirAsia, saying, “Pilot has to give hope and leave the rest to God and the passengers. If AirAsia are big into prayers; engage proper imam and priest.”