Malay rights group Perkasa wants Petronas chief executive officer Tan Seri Shamsul Azhar Abbas to resign over his recent statement that the country’s oil and gas revenue does not “belong to the Bumiputera”.
Its president Datuk Ibrahim Ali said Shamsul (pic) was savvy when he said Petronas resources belonged to all Malaysians as he was trying to imply that he was being forced to give handouts to Bumiputera companies.
“Shamsul should resign for his unprofessional conduct. This is very unbecoming,” he said today at a press conference.
In the Edge Weekly report on June 21, Shamsul revealed that Petronas came under political pressure to back inexperienced businesses, adding that “bureaucratic interference made this difficult”.
Shamsul stressed the importance of meritocracy and pointed out that he did not look at colour or creed.
“In 2010, we restructured the whole organisation, including the composition of the board… I brought in new capable people. The talk was that I had got rid of all the government servants, brought in the non-Malays, opened up Petronas, which belongs to the Malays, to the non-Malays.
“Are we not interested in competence? This is the predicament that I am facing at this point in time. There is a need for us to shape ourselves into a more professional organisation, but at the same time, I am being pulled back by politics, by interested parties, by parties with vested interests, by agendas that are outdated,” he told the business weekly.
Shamsul also said he was not indifferent toward Malay entrepreneurs bidding for projects with the national oil company.
“I am a Malay too. I am proud to be one… You think I don’t want to help my own people. Of course, I want to help them, but in the proper way. Not through handouts and spoon-feeding,” he said.
Ibrahim, however, said Shamsul should remember that Malay, pro-Bumiputera affirmative action plans had to be continued as the community continued to lag behind other ethnic groups in the country.
Ibrahim also challenged Shamsul to a live debate where the Petronas chief could name the companies he was allegedly arm-twisted into backing, rather than make “sweeping statements” about bumiputera businessmen.
Ibrahim said although the Petroleum Development Act 1974 does not specifically mention Bumiputera, Petronas’s policies should be in line with the New Economic Policy.
“After the NEP was introduced, the Petroleum Development Act 1974 was overridden and should therefore be in line with government policies,” he said.
Ibrahim also raised the issue of Shamsul’s performance, which he described as controversial, especially in light of criticisms from Bumiputera businessmen.
“Before Shamsul took over Petronas, his predecessor Tan Sri Hassan Merican did not attract so much attention.
“Moreover, Petronas performed well during Hassan’s time at the helm,” Ibrahim said, adding that Shamsul constantly attracted criticism.
Ibrahim also urged Petronas to be transparent in revealing the list of contractors who had dealings with the company, and invite them for a dialogue.
“For the sake of transparency, I urge Petronas to reveal their list of contractors who have been given projects.”