What was the chief executive officer of AirAsia, Tony Fernandes, thinking when he appeared half-naked in front of his staff, in a management meeting?
Did he think he could impress those who read his post when he posted a photo of himself on LinkedIn with the words, “Got to love Indonesia and AirAsia culture, that I can have a massage and do a management meeting.”
No! All it showed was his terrible judgement, his bad manners and a lesson in ‘How not to appear shirtless when you are in bad physical shape”.
It’s quite a turn-off to see an ample 12-pack instead of firm 6-pack abs, and man-boobs.
Fernandes claimed that he had a stressful week, was in pain after an 18-hour flight, and had taken up the suggestion of a work colleague to have a massage. The photo he uploaded was of him top-less with his shoulders being kneaded by a masked masseuse.
Did Fernandes think he could impress people with his multi-tasking?
No! It had the opposite effect.
The photo was both offensive and nauseating to look at. If there was a moral to the story, it is to urge any middle aged male, that before they decide to appear topless, they should first work on their abs and get rid of any man boobs.
Fernandes looked like he was in poor physical shape. If he was really tired, he could have benefited from a few hours rest before calling the meeting, instead of subjecting people to his unsightly form.
If this is the ‘culture of AirAsia’, then it is clear that he needs to have a healthier lifestyle, and go more often to the gym. All those hours sitting around in aeroplanes or in conferences is not doing his body any good.
If he thought he could impress by having a massage whilst convening a conference, then what sort of work ethic is he trying to suggest to his employees? It may be massages today, but what may others demand tomorrow?
He claimed that he had asked those present for the conference if they minded if he had a massage and he said no-one had objected.
Well, what did he think? He is the boss and in the Asian culture, few people will dare to say anything to the person with seniority.
They may disagree and disapprove of what he was doing, but they will also be unwilling or be afraid to speak out against the boss’ unprofessional behaviour.
Is Fernandes not aware that he is in Asia? Female employees will feel awkward with him being topless and showing off his 12-pack torso.
What message is he passing to the rest of his employees? What if some of them then say that ‘if Tony can do it, then so can we’?
Perhaps some of the more aggressive and domineering workers may bully the more timid employees with their inappropriate behaviour like physical contact or sexual harassment? Did Fernandes think about the consequences of uploading his half-naked photo?
Did he think that his wife will approve of his inconsiderate behaviour?
Did he consider the feelings of the Indonesians, especially the women, in Muslim majority Indonesia? Even airline bosses must behave and act with respect for other people. He was also being arrogant to suggest that Indonesian corporate board members condone people having massages during a conference meeting.
As he is Malaysian, and a public figure at that, he has just shown the ugly side of Malaysian men. Malaysian men do not routinely expose their aurat, or be half-clothed, and especially during meetings.
Fernandes may not have realised it but he has just exposed the lack of decorum and social norms in the AirAsia office culture. He is a social media addict and possibly craves attention. Most people have no time for people with huge egos.
Most of us will say that if he wants to have a massage, to just get a room. There was no need to make everyone feel uncomfortable. It was poor judgement on his part. If this was the west, allegations of sexual harassment would have been made had there been any ladies in the conference room.
Fernandes’ publicity stunt has backfired.
His massage failed to send out the right messages.
Allegedly new photo which emerged on social media. It is totally inappropriate and incompatible with his position as a public figure. It demeans the women he works with. It is insulting for his wife to see how he behaves at work.