Aug 20 (Bernama) — The Boeing Company has presented a four-wheel-drive vehicle to the Penang branch of the Malaysian Red Crescent Society (MRCS) as part of efforts to improve the quality of life in the communities in which it operates.

“The four-wheel drive will enable the society to be in a better position to render medical aid in remote areas in times of disaster,” said Boeing’s Regional Vice-President Paul Walters.  He said the US$28,000 (RM103,600) gift was decided by Boeing after a devastating tsunami hit Penang on Dec 26 last year.

Prior to the tsunami disaster, Boeing had donated an ambulance to the Penang branch of the MRCS last year but it was subsequently felt that a 4WD vehicle would serve the society better, especially in remote areas.

More than 60 people were killed by the tidal waves in Malaysia following an earthquake off Indonesia’s Aceh coast on Boxing Day.  As part of its good corporate citizenship efforts, Boeing had budgeted US$44 million worldwide “to put back into the communities where we live and work and 10 per cent of that is spent internationally,” said Walters.

Boeing has a substantial “footprint” in Malaysia with businesses in Kuala Lumpur, Sepang, Subang, Butterworth and Bukit Kayu Hitam.

“We are very committed to Malaysia as evidenced by our regional Southeast Asia office located in Kuala Lumpur,” he said.

All in all, Boeing had spent US$4.5 million (RM16.65 million) to help tsunami victims in affected areas in various parts of Asia, especially in rebuilding Aceh, the worst-hit.

Asked what prompted Boeing into “partnering local communities”, Walters said: “This is because we live in these areas. We want to put something back into the community if you want to be a citizen and part take in it (and) it makes good sense.”

Boeing’s good corporate citizenship efforts are guided by this maxim: No challenge is too big for the hearts, hands and minds of Boeing people.

Walters also said Boeing would be working with Yayasan Sultanah Bahiyah to provide a grant to buy dialysis machines and maintain them in medical centres at Bukit Kayu Hitam “as we know there’s a shortage (of such machines) for kidney patients in northern Kedah.”

“We want to help meet that need. We live there, we work there, we benefit from the community. So, we should put something back,” he said.

“We’re a resident in Kedah through our joint venture via the Asian Composites Manufacturing (ACM) joint venture, which has a workforce of a little over 300 people from the surrounding community,” he said.

Boeing has a 25 per cent share in the joint venture. The other shareholders are Hexcel Corporation, Sime Darby Bhd and Naluri Bhd.

“There’s a lot of work going on there, producing wing parts and airplane components for 737 planes and everytime we sell a B737, the people in Kedah benefit,” he added.

— BERNAMA, Malaysian National News Agency