Malaysia Airlines introduces first female pilots

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Malaysia Airlines' second officer Wang Wen Chien steers her inaugural flight to Nanjing, China in August 2018. (Photo credit: Malaysia Airlines Twitter account)
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Malaysia Airlines celebrated their first female pilots during a graduation ceremony in August 2018. (Photo credit: Malaysia Airlines Facebook page)
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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.

Kabul begins freeing Taliban

Newly freed Taliban prisoners walk at Pul-e-Charkhi prison, in Kabul, Afghanistan August 13, 2020. Picture taken August 13, 2020. (REUTERS)
Updated 15 August 2020

Kabul begins freeing Taliban

  • Release of final 400 inmates was approved by traditional Afghan grand assembly

KABUL: After months of delay, Afghanistan’s government has started releasing the last 400 Taliban inmates in its custody, clearing the way for long-awaited peace talks, officials confirmed on Friday.

Eighty of the 400 were set free on Thursday and, according to the government, more will be freed in the coming days. The release was a condition to begin intra-Afghan negotiations to end 19 years of conflict in the war-torn country. The talks, already delayed twice, are expected to take place in Qatar once the release process is complete.
“The release was to speed up efforts for direct talks and a lasting, nationwide cease-fire,” the Afghan National Security Council said in a statement accompanied by video footage showing former Taliban inmates calling on insurgent leaders and the government to engage in peace talks.
The prisoner release follows an agreement signed by the US and the Taliban in Qatar in February that stipulated the exchange of prisoners between President Ashraf Ghani’s government and the militants, who have gained ground in recent years.
The process, involving 5,000 Taliban detainees held by Kabul and 1,000 security forces imprisoned by the militants, was slated to begin in early March and should have been followed by an intra-Afghan dialogue.
Ghani, initially resistant to the idea of freeing the Taliban inmates, began to release them under US pressure. Some 4,600 Taliban inmates were freed over the few past months, but Ghani refused to free the remaining 400, arguing they were behind major deadly attacks and that setting them free was outside his authority.
Faced by mounting pressure, after Eid Al-Adha holidays two weeks ago, the president vowed to summon a traditional grand assembly, the Loya Jirga, to help him decide if the remaining Taliban inmates should be freed or not.


Footage showing men in uniforms mutilating the bodies of purported Taliban members went viral on social media this week, raising concerns that violence between security forces and the militants may impede the peace process despite the prisoner release.

Last week, the assembly approved the release, which is now underway and expected to be followed by the peace talks, in accordance with the US-Taliban deal.
The process, however, coincides with a spike in violence in the country and mutual accusations of an increase in assaults by the Taliban and Afghan government forces.
On Thursday, the Defense Ministry said it was probing a video circulating on social media showing men in army uniforms mutilating the bodies of purported Taliban fighters.
The UN requested that the incident be investigated. It remains unclear when and where it took place.
The Taliban, in a statement, said the bodies of their fighters were mutilated in the Arghandab district of the Zabul province.
Concerns are rising that similar acts of violence will further delay the peace process.
“Let us hope that this video does not become part of revenge-taking between the two sides and affect the process of peace. It is really unfortunate,” analyst Shafiq Haqpal told Arab News.
“As the violence continues, we see more brutal and shocking tactics from the sides and examples of revenge-taking, and that is very worrying and impacts any trust in a peace process,” Shaharzad Akbar, the chief of Afghanistan’s Independent Human Rights Commission, said in a Twitter post on Thursday.
“It is on the leadership of the two sides to have clear messages to their fighters to avoid war crimes and actions that further the instinct for revenge that will make the reconciliation that should come out of a peace process difficult,” she added.