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‘They sat there and laughed’: Shock as AirAsia bosses smile over Thai CEO’s F-word on staff

Many are questioning the treatment of staff by AirAsia's senior management in the wake of their response to the incident.

Staff Writers
2 minute read
AirAsia group CEO Tony Fernandes and digital president Aireen Omar.
AirAsia group CEO Tony Fernandes and digital president Aireen Omar.

An AirAsia Thailand town hall meeting that saw its CEO berating staff and using the four-letter word has angered internet users in Malaysia, with many questioning the smiling response from the airline group CEO Tony Fernandes and digital president Aireen Omar.

Many expressed shock that neither Fernandes nor Aireen attempted to castigate AirAsia Thailand CEO Tassapon Bijleveld after the latter used profanity when a staff asked a question on the company’s new partnership with Gojek.

“What’s your f—ing question,” Tassapon was heard telling a female staff, before turning to Fernandes to let him answer the question.

While this was going on, both Fernandes and Aireen were seen smiling, even as Tassapon told the staff to “shut up”.

While Tassapon is believed to have issued an apology some days later, many continued to question the response from the AirAsia group top executives.

AirAsia’s Aireen Omar and Tony Fernandes (bottom) reacting to Tassapon Bijleveld (top right) while the latter berates an employee during a town hall meeting.

“A girl got bullied in your virtual town hall and nobody apologised?” said one in a post on Fernandes’ Instagram account.

“He just sat there and laughed. Disgrace,” came the rejoinder.

One AirAsia employee penned his disappointment with the episode, saying it contradicts the company’s “Allstars” label to denote the non-discrimination of its staff.

“AirAsia takes pride in their people and culture, and we take pride in being Allstars. Why is it then that I struggle to understand what sort of a culture we are perpetuating in allowing this to happen, then swept under the carpet, and that none of our management addressed or acknowledged this as a problem?”

On Twitter, a user questioned AirAsia’s treatment of its employees.

“Is this how AirAsia senior management treat its staff during internal meetings? So much for the public display of caring for its employees.”

“A display of toxic, misogynistic company culture that’s really inexcusable. And highest ranks playing along pouting face,” said another.