KLIA2 suffers more PR woes

Going viral is a video of the newly opened Malaysian airport KLIA2 flooding.

The short 19 second clip is seen making its rounds after the six-month old airport flooded due to the depressions on its aircraft parking. According to DAP’s Tony Pua, this clip has led to the international airport becoming an “international joke” which first opened in May and cost RM4 billion to construct.

Pua posted the video on both his Twitter and Facebook page and the post has gotten over 1600 shares on Facebook since.

One senior PR practitioner told Advertising + Marketing said on the basis of anonymity that this incident simply highlights the impact social media has on the Malaysian public but does not necessarily have an impact on the image of the nation.

However, it does impact the organisation involved with the issue, he said.

“Communication about the issue should have been instant the moment the issue was raised in Parliament. The lack of communication, plus a number of issues prior to this, has left certain parties to speculate and further doubt their capabilities. Incidents such as these, compounded by the fact that it was politically driven, can easily provoke strong reaction if the issue is not promptly acknowledged and addressed. As such, there is more pressure for organisations to be prepared on all forms of media, both internally and externally.”

He added that Malaysian organisations hence need to have a proper system in place to monitor and track relevant information and discussion regarding their organisation.

Another senior PR practitioner added that given that Malaysia as a brand is undergoing a pretty tough year the floods at KLIA2 will unfortunately only serve to intensify the scrutiny and reproach of the authorities in question.

“On the flip side, because of the consistent blows that the image of Malaysia has sustained in the past two decades from multiple facets, this may very well be quickly fade into the pile of issues that remain unaddressed or unresolved,” she said.

She added that from a PR standpoint, Malaysia could benefit from the age-old communications tenets of transparency and accountability.

For this specific issue Malaysia Airports Holdings Berhad (MAHB) should take quick steps to acknowledge the issues that have caused these floods and put measures in place to minimise the immediate negative impact on stakeholders of KLIA2. A thorough investigation on these issues, including tracing back and making public the erroneous decisions which led to the structural impairment would win points on transparency. However, more importantly, MAHB needs to make sure the KLIA2 is restored to its promise as a safely functional international airport and that it fully justifies the immense (over) investment made.

This is not the only time KLIA2 has come under public scrutiny.  First of all, it came under question for raising the costs to build the terminal. The first estimated cost in 2007 was RM1.7 billion, then increased to RM2 billion in 2009, until its final cost of RM4 billion. Next, it had to delay its opening five times due to safety issues, amongst other reasons.

After it finally opened, it experienced tension with AirAsia and the airline’s high profile lead Tony Fernandes where the airline filed a complaint over problems in the terminal’s management system. Fernandes had then gone online to share his frustrations online via his Twitter account which drew a fair bit of public attention.


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