KUALA LUMPUR: Tan Sri Rafidah Aziz is stepping down as chairman of AirAsia X Bhd (AAX) effective July 1.

The long haul budget carrier, in a Bursa filing, said Rafidah was stepping down as she would soon have served the term allowed as an independent director.

“I will be 79 this year and will have served the term allowed as an independent director. I would then need to comply with the change in status from independent to non-independent board member and the other ensuing requirements. I have therefore decided to resign from my position as chairman of AAX and this will take effect from 1 July,” Rafidah said in a statement on Wednesday.

“I feel AAX should appoint new people to the board to take the company forward, especially after the restructuring exercise. It has been a very good experience for me, having developed so many friendships with the Allstars at all levels, which I will always cherish.

“My special thanks to Tan Sri Tony Fernandes and Datuk Kamarudin Meranun for having come personally to invite me to be the chairman of AAX long before it was listed. My heartfelt thanks go to the board members, past and present, as well as members and attendees of the board committees that I have chaired, for all their cooperation, support and guidance. I wish all at AAX well and every success for now and the future,” she added.

Rafidah was appointed as an Independent non-executive director and chairman of the board, on March 3, 2011, and re-designated as a senior independent non-executive chairman upon listing of the company on July 10, 2013.

She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics, and a Master's degree in Economics, from the University of Malaya.

Rafidah was Malaysia's longest-serving Minister of International Trade and Industry, having served in that capacity, for 21 years, from 1987 to 2008.

Under enhanced listing requirements announced by Bursa Malaysia in January 2022, the tenure of an independent director on the boards of Bursa Malaysia-listed companies will be limited to 12 years.

“All long serving independent directors impacted by this enhancement must resign or be re-designated as non-independent directors by June 1, 2023,” Bursa said.

Another key enhancement is the requirement for listed issuers (PLCs) with a market cap of RM2bil as at Dec 312, 2021, to appoint at least one woman director on their boards by Sept 1, 2022, as announced by the Minister of Finance in his Budget 2022 speech on Oct 29, 2021.

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