Malaysia Airlines introduces first female pilots

1 / 3
Malaysia Airlines' second officer Wang Wen Chien steers her inaugural flight to Nanjing, China in August 2018. (Photo credit: Malaysia Airlines Twitter account)
2 / 3
Malaysia Airlines celebrated their first female pilots during a graduation ceremony in August 2018. (Photo credit: Malaysia Airlines Facebook page)
3 / 3
Pearl Mak was honoured as Malaysia Airlines' first female captain. (Photo credit: Malaysia Airlines Facebook page)
Updated 03 November 2018

Malaysia Airlines introduces first female pilots

  • In 2017, 3 percent of the 130,000 pilots worldwide were women, according to the International Society of Women Pilots.
  • Malaysia’s low-cost carrier AirAsia has 55 female pilots and a female CEO.

KUALA LUMPUR: Four Malaysians have become the first female pilots for their country’s national carrier, Malaysia Airlines, which has 927 pilots.
Pearl Mak, the airline’s first female captain, told Arab News that it felt like a solitary effort to “break into this male-dominated profession.”
But she said she persevered because “all I wanted was to fly, and I wanted to fly a jet aircraft, and it had to be a Boeing 747. That was my goal.”
She added: “Financially, I supported myself in getting my pilot license. That was a huge challenge for me as I had a limited budget to complete the course.”
She said: “It’s an honor to serve my national carrier, and most importantly I didn’t give up on that dream.”
She added: “Some airlines around the world are now more receptive to having female pilots. Overall, however, the aviation industry still has a long way to go in that regard.”
Second Officer Hooi Wen Foo, one of the four female pilots, said her dad inspired her to fulfil her dream.
“He really inspired me with all his stories about flying,” she told Arab News, adding that it was also his dream to become a pilot when he was young. “That dream rubbed off on me.”
Becoming a pilot was no easy task, she said. “Aviation being such a male-dominated industry, I did have a couple of setbacks mentally. One must be mentally tough and know their dreams and goals,” she added, thanking her male colleagues at Malaysia Airlines for their support.
“The more women who know about this opportunity, the better. In this modern age, gender shouldn’t be a barrier for anyone to achieve their dreams.”
MalaIn 2017, 3 percent of the 130,000 pilots worldwide were women, according to the International Society of Women Pilots. Malaysia’s low-cost carrier AirAsia has 55 female pilots and a female CEO.


Jakarta literary festival aims to give a voice to the voiceless

Updated 22 August 2019

Jakarta literary festival aims to give a voice to the voiceless

  • The four-day festival features authors from the Middle East and Africa
  • The festival unites international authors with dozens of fellow writers from Indonesia

JAKARTA: The inaugural Jakarta International Literary Festival commenced on Tuesday evening with a focus on bringing together writers and literary works from the Global South. 

Festival Director Yusi Avianto Pareanom said that the organizer, the Literary Committee of the Jakarta Arts Council, wanted to emphasize the importance of creating balance in a discourse that has been dominated by work from the Global North.

The four-day festival features authors from the Middle East and Africa, such as Legodle Seganabeng from Botswana, Adania Shibli from Palestine, Bejan Matur from Turkey, Zainab Priya Dala from South Africa, Shenaz Patel from Mauritius, Momtaza Mehri from Somalia and many authors from Southeast Asian countries.

The festival unites international authors with dozens of fellow writers from Indonesia at the Taman Ismail Marzuki arts and cultural center in Jakarta between Aug. 20 and 24.  

“Our theme ‘Fence’ highlights that we want to unlock and deconstruct the barriers that separate us, so that these writers can get to know each other,” Yusi told Arab News. 

“From authors like Adania Shibli, we can enrich our knowledge about Palestine and its literary scene. There are plenty of ways to portray a situation. Through Shibli, we can get understand Palestine through its literary side.

“By featuring Bejan Matur, we know that there is another prominent Turk author apart from the world-renowned Orhan Pamuk,” he added. 

Shibli delivered her keynote speech titled “I am not to speak my language” at the opening of the festival, in which she described how the Israeli occupation has silenced Arabic-speaking Palestinians.

“The phenomenon of Palestinians taking refuge in silence whenever they are around Hebrew speakers in Palestine or Israel is not unfamiliar,” Shibli said.

She added that decades of military occupation had made speaking in Arabic a fraught experience. 

“Colonialism, however, does not only show contempt toward the colonized, their history and their culture by silencing them, but also toward their language,” she said.  

Shibli described how the nationality law, which the Israeli government passed in July 2018, strips Arabic of its designation as an official language and downgrades it to a special status. 

“Arabic was downgraded from a language into a threat a long time ago,” she added. 

Yusi said that what Shibli described in her speech is relevant to similar situations in other countries, including Indonesia. 

Multilingual Indonesia has more than 700 actively spoken local dialects, with 652 of them verified by the Ministry of Education and Culture. Many of the remaining dialects are in danger of dying out due to diminishing speakers, especially among the younger generation.