His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Sa’adul Khairi Waddien, Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam emphasised the need for an experienced and effective mechanism and firmness in making decisions in ensuring that Royal Brunei Airlines (RB) has excellent management.
The monarch underscored this in his titah during His Majesty’s unscheduled visit to the RB Campus headquarters in Jalan Kustin yesterday.
His Majesty sees that the matter still needs to be evaluated as to whether the executive management spearheading RB had already achieved the required level and if not, efforts are still needed towards this.
Efforts to move forward include reviewing and evaluating leadership as well as the level of achievement obtained with the integrity, capability and transparency in actions of the officers.
His Majesty pointed out that if a head prefers to or mostly leaves his responsibilities to the subordinate officers it is a sign that the head is lacking in integrity and capability or is not transparent in his actions. Under a head such as this, there is not much hope in expecting a fruitful outcome, His Majesty said.
The monarch said there is no harm in a leader giving orders, however it should be reasonable as it could lead to depression and hurt the mind.
“If there is a scope of work that should be done by the head it must be the head who takes up the responsibility and not push it to the subordinate,” the monarch said.
It is vital to identify obstacles causing management not to excel and once identified, it should be tackled.
Among the obstacles seen is the existence of an unclear scope of authority between the BOD (board of directors) and executive management (EXCO) as the promotion and transfer of staff was under the EXCO authority. However it is now under three levels of committee namely RB BOD, EXCO Committee and Darussalam Assets Sdn Bhd.
This, added His Majesty, includes the approval of projects and can take up to six months or more, which in turn will be a loss for RB.
The unprofessional act of the board members in tackling several issues is another obstacle taking for example the issue of the salary of a Chief Commercial and Planning Officer (CCPO) appointed on June 14, 2021, but is yet to receive the salary as CCPO.
When the senior officer expressed his intentions to withdraw from the post and return to his former post as the Senior Vice President of Ground Services, the board members said it is not permissible as that the appointment as CCPO was by the consent of His Majesty.
This is not a good attitude as it is an inclination towards making His Majesty as a self shield.
“Although the appointment was upon His Majesty, did the monarch himself prohibit to pay out the salary?” asked His Majesty.
Another sector that hinders excellence in management is the lack of firmness in making a decision.
His Majesty cited an example of an incident where a civil servant requested for RB to handle the flight of several foreigners and their baggage through interline with the connecting flight between RB and another airline.
Initially, RB declined to perform the baggage check-in process as there was no arrangement between RB and the country. However the civil servant contacted the RB Chairman directly using an approach that senses threat and force giving the chairman authority without considering the consequences that could arise and put RB at loss.
This incident undoubtedly shows an obvious weakness and was a mistake.
As an organisation, RB should resolve weaknesses and flaws and not setting it aside without making any efforts to tackle the issue.
The monarch also raised the issue on insufficient engineers and technicians and whether steps have been taken to resolve this, as well as taking light on matters such as health, safety, security and environment (HSSE) affairs, where RB staff need not attend Safety Management System and Safety Risk Management workshops, violating the national and international airlines standards as well as tarnishing RB’s reputation.
Another issue highlighted in His Majesty’s titah was the elimination of BND6,511,893.16 bad debts from several parties and approved by the board members.
Among the reasons for the failure in the collection of bad debt is the dispute in the invoices due to insufficient supporting documents. His Majesty found these documents should have been reviewed before the issue of claims for payment arise. RB has good potential in the airline industry as proven by the awarding of Asia’s Leading Cabin Crew 2022 during the World Travel Awards in Vietnam, an award that the airlines has been given for three consecutive years since 2020.
Such potential needs to be continuously maintained to generate excellence not only in the airline industry but in all aspects of RB management.
The monarch also questioned whether the board members and ExCo plan to make a retention plan for its staff, particularly among the pilots, engineers and technicians.
The monarch also made an inquiry on the achievement of health, safety and environment (HSE) standard and number of violations recorded in a year.
His Majesty also asked about the frequency of audit operations in ensuring the management affairs have been implemented according to the standard operating procedures (SOP) including purchases from customers and the total of bad debts RB had to eliminate during the last five years.