When principled men speak and frogs croak
COMMENTARY BY THE MALAYSIAN INSIDER
Published: 26 June 2014
Honesty. Candour. Fearlessness.
These qualities are so refreshing about Petronas chief executive officer Tan Sri Shamsul Azhar Abbas. He speaks the language of a man who cares more deeply about doing the right thing by his company, and ultimately, by his country, than clinging to the coveted position as the boss of the national oil company.
He calls a spade a spade and not because sharp words are going to grab him a share of headlines, but because he knows that endemic rent-seeking is leading the country’s piggy-bank and financier of all our excesses to a bad place.
He has to wave the red flag, shout at the top of his voice and be the bearer of bad news because everyone else is in denial. Because Umno politicians and their supporters in Perkasa like Datuk Ibrahim Ali believe that the country’s one, constant source of revenue is theirs to pillage.
So it was expected that Shamsul’s candour in an interview with the Edge Weekly would provoke a response from the country’s instigator-in-chief, the purveyor of all nonsense and defender of the rent-seeking culture, Datuk Ibrahim Ali.
Among other things, Shamsul said that Petronas resources belonged to all Malaysians, and not just Malays. He was spot on saying that because the Petroleum Development Act 1974 does not mention Bumiputeras.
Shamsul lamented the fact that Petronas was under pressure to back inexperienced businesses, while he was more interested in stressing the importance of meritocracy.
“In 2010, we structured the whole organisation, including the composition of the board…I brought in new capable people. The talk was that I 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 a predicament I am facing at this point of time…I am being pulled back by politics, by interested parties, by parties with vested interests, by agendas that are outdated…I am a Malay too.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, ” said in the interview published on June 21.
Ibrahim, who finds any discussion on meritocracy and competence offensive, has found much wrong with what Shamsul said and now is calling for his head.
Ibrahim represents all that is wrong with this blessed and resource-rich country. He claims he is fighting for Malays when he is in fact trying to perpetuate a system where a small group of Malays have benefited tremendously from government contracts, approved permits and the like.
He adores the current political patronage system because it provides the perfect eco-system for Perkasa, Isma and other right-wing groups to thrive.
To hell with what is good for Petronas or Malaysia.
You can bet that there will be a steady drum beat from now on for Shamsul to step down as Petronas CEO.
But you can bet your last ringgit that Shamsul will not be cowed, especially by a politician who failed to win a seat in what was supposed to be his stronghold.
If Shamsul has to go, he will but on his terms and by speaking honestly about Malaysia’s most prized asset.
We used to have an abundance of men like the Petronas CEO in the Malaysia of old; men who did not decide matters based on colour or creed; men who put principle before self.
Ibrahim would not understand these concepts. – June 26, 2014.