WHO can blame anyone, especially the local sports fraternity, for being riled? There is a thick air of dejection, and even a sense of betrayal, pervading now that it has been revealed that a home-grown brand that is AirAsia, which owes Malaysians a great deal for supporting the cheap, no-frills airline especially during its infancy, is likely to spend a huge sum of money to sponsor an NFL team in the United States.
Thursday, June 25th, 2009 05:17:00 malay mail
Eyebrows were instantly raised, especially in the wake of so many sports associations struggling to stay afloat. Stories of football associations failing to pay their players on time, families of budding talents having to fork out their own money to achieve glory for their country and the likes are a dozen a dime. So much so that some had stopped being sympathetic.
Others, like the government, association leaders, rulers and corporations, do their best to intervene. You can't save everybody, but you can at least try. As such, every single sen counts.
Now, one can argue that AirAsia too has been sponsoring some tournaments here and there, but really, in times like this, a sponsorship to promote a sporting event that has less following here than, say, sepak takraw, in a sponsorship-rich country where the airline doesn't even fly to, seems wrong. So decisively wrong.
Indeed, it is the prerogative of Tony Fernandes and gang to spend their money for branding anywhere and in any way they wish. No one can argue that the strategy to get as many eyeballs on the brand, as was the case when the airline went into the Barclays Premier League, is nothing short of being brilliant.
But is it really all about making more money? What about these ailing local sports associations then?
It doesn't require a genius to figure out that this deal is going to cost AirAsia, to quote the ironic word dreaded
by any airline, a bomb. Top of the list of questions is: why can't it commit to giving more to local talents, when it can "fly" out money to promote a fairly alien form of sports, and indirectly assist in developing talents in American football.
AirAsia, as seen from this exercise, is more than capable - financially - to assist the Malaysian government to nurture better talents and keep the struggling sports industry afloat.
Naturally, it owes the Malaysian government too, especially when one considers that the government has shown such patience and understanding by not taking any drastic action to claim the RM65 million in airport tax AirAsia owes Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd.
It is a slap in our faces as the message seems to be this: we are just not good enough for AirAsia money.
Shame on AirAsia.The Malay adage anak kera di hutan disusukan, anak di rumah mati kelaparan is an apt description for this act of betrayal.
AirAsia looks set to score a touchdown or two in terms of branding, but back home, forgive some for thinking that while everybody can now fly, not everybody here counts for much.