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Malaysia election: AirAsia boss apologises for stunt backing failed prime minister

AIRASIA'S boss has apologised after endorsing failed prime minister Najib Razak before Malaysia’s general election amid a series of scandals surrounding the candidate.

Airline boss Tony Fernandes said what he did was a “grave error of judgement” in a video posted to his Facebook page on Sunday. 

He said: “I’m sorry for what has gone on. I buckled at a crucial moment in our history.”

The controversial stunt involved showing the airline boss Mr Fernandes with then prime minister Mr Razak on board an AirAsia plane.

Mr Fernandes even painted the plane blue and changed the uniforms of the AirAsia flight attendants from red to blue, which is the colour of Mr Razak’s Barisan Nasional coalition.

The AirAsia boss said he had come under “tremendous” pressure from Mr Razak’s government before the May 9 election.

He claims it caused him to issue a video crediting Mr Razak’s policies for the success of the home-grown low-cost carrier.

Mr Fernandes said he was under pressure to fire the former trade minister Rafidah Aziz, who was also on the board of AirAsia’s long-haul budget arm AirAsia because she supported the opposition party.

He admits that he thought he could “foolishly” appease the government by doing the endorsement video. 

He said: “Under the intense pressure, I buckled. It wasn’t right, I’ll forever regret it but it was a decision made at the spur of the moment.

“I apologise again for the pain and the hurt I caused.”

Mr Razak’s party the Barison Nasional coalition ruled Malaysia for 61 years and was defeated last week by the opposition alliance that was led by the ex-Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad.

Mr Razak was slapped with a government travel ban over the weekend as it was believed he was trying to flee the country to try and avoid prosecution over the 1MDB scandal.

He was alleged to have siphoned billions of dollars from a state fund, in what US Attorney-General Jeff Sessions described as the worst form of kleptocracy.

The US Department of Justice has filed several lawsuits to seize more than $1.7 billion in assets believed to have been stolen from 1MDB.

Mr Razak has denied any wrongdoing.

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Tags: Daily Express, Sunday Express. UK, World News
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