Mon, 4 Mar 2024


Loke should know MAHB failed Sabah
Published on: Sunday, February 04, 2024
By: Datuk John Lo
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Hajiji’s announcement that KKIA should be upgraded is welcome news.
IT is good, extremely good that Hajiji has asked Loke to upgrade KKIA on 26th January 2024.

MAHB is not on the balls for too many years. Just for the record, most if not all the poor conditions in KKIA could/should have been dealt with in the normal routine of management, be it maintenance, renovation or system failures. 

After all, for more than 2 years, MAHB at the KKIA level, has been requested to upgrade KKIA’s facilities. The toilets were dirty, wet and smelly, lighting was dungeon-like, TV screens were malfunction. 

Many things were in a poor state. I wrote 2 articles in the Sunday Express with photos. Thereafter, there were meetings with KKIA management, countless WhatsApp group-chats messages by SEAC committee on tourism. MAHB’s response have been at hoc. Improvements were painfully slow.

A letter requesting to meet the Chairman of MAHB has received no courtesy of a response. This can only mean that Sabah is not important to MAHB. Sabah’s Minister of Tourism, Culture and Environment Christina Liew has no choice but to go public that Sabah should consider taking over the management of KKIA.

Admittedly, there have been some small improvements but no way near to the satisfactory level expected of an international airport, the number 2 airport in Malaysia and the gateway to Sabah and Malaysian Borneo.

Hajiji’s personal request to Loke is therefore very important, timely and appropriate. Hopefully, Hajiji’s intervention will result that Sabahans can be proud of KKIA.


I give credit to: [a] toilets are cleaner. [b] lighting has improved slightly. [c] The badly worn out covers of chairs in the check-in hall have been replaced. [d] New drink fountain machines have been installed.

Action needed urgently: 

[a] 2 walkalators are down, right and left sides on one. I have yet to see all the walkalators working at the same time for a very long time. 

[b] Left escalator down to immigration hall is also not working. No sign board to warn users. 

[c] Empty paper holders in men toilets. 

[d] Broken tiles on the floor glued in place by tapes. Not replaced for a very long time. MAHB has no budget to replace these tiles that cost a few RM each? They only do this in a kampong airport. Should not happen in an international airport. [e] The runway is bumpy, a bit like “rock and roll “inside the plane.

Comprehensive upgrade, please. Don’t do a half-baked job.

Hajiji has requested Loke to upgrade. Please do a comprehensive upgrade in the long-term interest of Sabah. This upgrade should include inter alia, the followings:

[a] The MAHB Board of Directors should accord recognition of the importance of KKIA as Malaysia’s 2nd busiest airport. If Penang deserves a major renovation, KKIA should be given priority if not on par with Penang.

[b] The MAHB Board should accord due economic importance to KKIA as the gateway to Sabah and Sarawak. Its economic importance to Sabah for tourism cannot be overestimated, especially for MICE for which Sabah’s Tourism Minister Christina Liew will launch an aggressive campaign very soon and Hajiji’s/Phong’s continuous vigorous promotion of investments.

[c] The MAHB Board should consider developing KKIA as a full-fledged second hub after KLIA. Should not treat KKIA as just another airport.

[d] The MAHB Board should introduce policies, incentives and promotion for KKIA in view that the Nusantara Airport will be completed and tested in July 2024. KKIA must be competitive vis-a-via Nusantara Airport.

[e] The MAHB should produce and provide the Sabah Government its business model for KKIA for the next 10 to 20 years. This is to allow synchronization of planning between MAHB and Sabah.

[f] Hopefully, the upgrade that Hajiji has requested will include the followings:

[1] A genuine and total upgrade of mindset of the MAHB Board of Directors, senior management and physical amenities to transform KKIA into the 21st century.

[2] Put a very senior manager in charge of KKIA with sufficient budget and authorities to act promptly. He shouldn’t have to run to KL for “nuts and bolts”.

[3] Upgrade the whole operational system especially the IT.

[3] User friendly procedures and facilities across the board. Reinstate the Green Lane. KKIA is unique to have a green lane that is permanently closed.

[4] Update all equipment.

[5] Up grade F and B outlets. No decent restaurants. These should be 24 hours.

[6] Present WIFI is pathetic. Needs upgrade urgently.

[7] Last but most importantly is to established standards and bench mark on every important aspect of KKIA’s operation.


Yes. This is possible. MAHB must create reasons for tourists to spend time and money in KKIA.

[a] If MAHB management can produce an imaginative business model incorporating with the followings:

[1] aggressive promotion and incentives for more airlines to land in KKIA. Work in tandem with Sabah Ministry of Tourism. Christina Liew will be happy with this.

[2] revamp and create more space for F&B and higher value retail outlets.

[3] develop the carpark land. If MAHB does not wish to do it, surrender the land back to Sabah. There will be many interested developers.


KKIA is the 2nd busiest airport. It must be a very big money spinner. If not, something is seriously wrong with the MAHB Board and senior management.

Please hold your next board meeting in KK. Check KKIA out for yourselves when it is busy. Don’t use the VIP lounge. Go through the normal channels, thoroughly check the toilets, F&B outlets, carparks, landscape, back of the house, etc. 

You will see that KKIA is tired and worn out. It needs a total revamp and renovation.

See for yourself why our CM Hajiji has to say what he has said to Loke. Hopefully, Loke will stop the buck.

I pray that our CM Hajiji will not be forced to speak to PM.


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