Monday, May 25, 2009

After Omar Ong, Syed Hamid rumoured for Petronas Chairman?

If last week saw Omar Ong being appointed on the Board of Director (BoD) of Petronas, the Kuala Lumpur City Centre, where Petronas headquarter is located, is a buzzed with rumours that former Minister, Dato Seri Syed Hamid Albar will be appointed as Chairman of Petronas.

These two appointments are not expected to go down well with the public and corporate circle. If the two appointments are publicly announced, it could come at an expensive political cost to Najib. His first 100 days as Prime Minister has not brought the profound boost hoped by UMNO members and these appointments would invite more negative perception of his premiership.

Since its establishment by Tun Abdul Razak in 1974, Government has maintained an unwritten rule that the management of Petronas is free from any direct or indirect political interference and be run professionally. This has proven to be a successful formula vis-a-vis other state run organisation.

The practise has also been that members of the BoD of Petronas is limited to Government representative from the civil servants and top executives in Petronas for their professional input on the oil and gas. (See the current line-up here.)

The only exception being Tan Sri Ananda Krishnan, who was invited to help established Petronas at its inception. He was then an established player in the regional oil and gas trade and brought in by the then Chairman of Petronas, Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah.

The presence of former Minister, Syed Hamid as Chairman and Omar Ong as member of the Board of Directors will not auger well for Najib's public image.

Words are that the justification used to appoint Syed Hamid is his experience as Foreign Minister. This is felt by many observers as odd since the international relation role will be better served by the current Petronas Adviser, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

Dr Mahathir commands a strong respect in the Middle East and Third World countries. Petronas overseas ventures came about during his premiership. He was known as the number 1 salesman of the country.

Syed Hamid's stinct as Foreign Minister was marred by his failure to defend Batu Putih from Singapore’s claim. He was alleged to be involved in a company selling sand to Singapore. This became a factor in the cancellation of the scenic Johor Bridge that caused much uproar amongst Johorean.

Petronas is doing much in road into the Middle East. As told by a former Senior Minister, Syed Hamid is not known for his good personal relations with Arab leaders.

The perception of the few Petronas executives spoken on Omar Ong’s presence were generally negative.

He will be perceived as “the voice of the Prime Minister” and this will exert undue influence on other members of the BoD, particularly the representatives from the various Ministries.

This could invariably lead to Omar Ong directly interfering in operational matters of Petronas. He has tendency to be persistent and this will be the manner he insert his liberalisation "agenda" into Petronas.

Petronas has been successful because it was able to carryout it’s policy and implement it’s plan without interference from external parties. It’s system and procedures of check and balance is in place and working well. There is no need for interference, real or perceived, from other power at be.

The last Petronas need is interference from it’s former scholarship holder with limited working experience and textbook knowledge of the oil and gas industry.

Other than Petronas, another organisation that has proved successful with a “no political interference policy” is Permodalan Nasional Berhad. The BoD of PNB is similarly limited to distinguished former high Government officials. and at one time, corporate men.

The economic and social contribution of both Petronas and PNB is too invaluable to the nation. Thus, it is important that such institutions be protected and run by capable and experienced professionals with governmental playing the policy monitoring role. The "taboo" for politicians or politicians' representative involvement in the management of both organisations should remain.

Furthermore, Petronas is increasingly dependent on international business. It can’t afford to tarnish its unblemished record with ‘amateurish’ mistake and god forbid, a financial scandal. The risk is too high to give the top positions in Petronas to inexperienced young wannabees and popularity motivated politicians.

Politically, this could be an expensive political cost to the Prime Minister and UMNO. He could be accused by opposition of introducing cronyism into Petronas and the generally sceptic public is likely to believe such allegations. The role to be played by Omar Ong and Syed Hamid could be played without being appointed on the BoD.

As it is, Najib should remain focus to turnaround the economy in order to regain public confidence to the party. He does not need to take unconventional decisions that will detour him from regaining the trust and confidence of the public.


Anonymous said...

A Voice,

Seriously I don't think Omar Ong qualified. Current Petronas Senior Manager is more capable and exposed to the oil and gas industry. Do you think this fell has vision and capabilities to advise Petronas operation in 33 countries?

And, i don't think many people qualify to replace Tan Sri Hassan Merican. 33 countries to manage is not easy job.


Wahid Kasran said...

i dont this a gaffe prone x-home minister is a suitable candidate.

This is the person who said chow kit is TOO DANGEROUS for a police beat base!

And his biggest screw up when he datained a reporter under the ISA to protect the reporter from HERSELF!

Let's imagine what would be his next screw up if he ever becomes Chairman - announcing oil exploitation in the MOON?

Terongpipit said...

Aku depa dok kalut sangat nak berkaitan dengan PETRONAS?
Duit banyak berlungguk disana sebab pengurusan yang baik oleh kepimpinan PETRONAS sekarang dan yang dah berlalu.
Buat apa kalau nak latik depa-depa ni untuk merosakkan PETRONAS?
Apa track-records depa-depa ni? Pucuk lagi dan kalau yang dah berdaun dah tau dan akan layu... Wakakaka

yem said...

A Voice,

hope petronas not turn to be indonesian state owned petroluem company (pertamina).

worry of people like omar ong ,azlan hashim and few others which more interested in merger,acquisition and selling of companies rather build up the business.

Anonymous said...

sorry bro.

not syed hamid.

he will make petronas BOTAK!

drMpower said...


I suspect, if this promotion indeed goes on, the value of visionaries and capabilities has no longer play big part in deciding who can and who cannot.

the appointment of him, of course will be justified by (the people who bothered with him) maybe his education level.

so, if he is to be appointed as Director of Petronas based on his academia level, i believe at least i should be appointed Director of Proton or Tenaga. I possess whatever he has. and I got one better i believe ;)

but then who am i to demand such thing? what we can hope for is the person who make such appointment possible, would think longer than the eyes can see.

and about sleeping head. no la. please.

Anonymous said...

just like IJN which was previous;y run by professionals who know their stuff, it is now run with political interference.

i guess the current motto in malaysia is that if it ain't broken, destroy it!

Wong Pencen said...

Let's hope all these remain as gossips and never turn to reality.

If it ever become reality, it will serve as evidence that the PM knows only how to talk about changes but fails to introduce positive changes.

Not only UMNO and BN will continue their journey south, Petronas and the whole nation will follow.

Donplaypuks® said...

Tan Sri Hassan Merican has previously threatened to resign if there is political inteference or manipulation in the running and operating of Petronas.

Of course Dr.M did intefere when Petronas bought over his son's Perkapalan (for $1 billion?) when it ran aground in the wake of the 1997/98 Asian Currency crisis.

Let's see if these unwarranted appointments to Petronas' Board provokes a reaction from the CEO.

But really, this practice of appointing retiring PM's, has been politicians and unexceptional execs to gaji buta advisory and management positions MUST stop.

Remember MV Augusta, Proton and Dr.M the advisor who was never consulted? I bet MAS will have nothing to ask AAB for advise other than to ask where the subsidised air tickets are to be issued for.

carlos said...

Just imagine Petronas as Batu Putih....

Now that is scary!!!!!!!!

Dhahran Sea said...

Salam Voice,
Scary things indeed! I got the feeling that somebody's balls (IF there's any left, that is) are in somebody'd hands... the actions/decisions of najib seems "weird" lately... apa dah jadi? Just look at pak lah's appointment as MAS' adviser... lets hope our pilots don't zzzzz while on the job!

Satria Asia said...

The rape will begin in earnest ...

LINTASAN said...

TAK KIRALAH SIAPA OMAR ONG KE SIAPA , yang penting DS Najib tahu apa yang dia buat, tak payah lah nak masuk campur urusan PM . Apa PM kena ikut saja apa yang bloggers tulis ke , Huh kalau mcm tuh baik bloggers saja yang ajar PM perentah negara, tak habis habis nak dengki khaiant dengan orang, aku tak lah kenal sangat dgn Omar Ong ni, tapi aku rasa Najib tahu lah apa yang dia buat, Kalau dia nak letak Syed Hamid pu korang peduli apa, PM tahu kerja dia,

kamil said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Petronas Scholar said...

Mohd Omar Ong bin Mustapha Ong was a scholar of Petronas. He was offered scholarship in May 1989 to do A-level in the UK and to study in Oxford University. He has repeatedly defaulted from his obligation in the scholarship agreement with Petronas.

The revelation of Omar Ong’s appointment as a member of the Board of Director of Petronas will mean that the Board of Direcor have honoured a scholarship defaulter with this appointment.

Omar completed his study and graduated from Oxford with a Bachelor’s degree in Politics, Philosophy and Economics. On February 16th, 1995 he joined Petronas as Executive. He later resigned and join Multimedia Development Corporation (MDC) on February 1st, 1997.

Omar was employed for nearly 2 years and at the time of resignation, had not fulfill his compulsory service. Petronas agreed to transfer the compulsory service to MDC being another Government Company..

His stinct with MDC lasted few months more than 3 years for he resigned on March 31, 2000. This is in breach of the scholarship agreement and he was informed by the Education Services Unit on June 2000.

Consequently, he was issued a Letter of Demand in January 2001 from the Legal Service Unit of Petronas. By September 2001, Lee, Hishamuddin & Co. was appointed to start proceeding against Omar. Judgement was obtained against Omar in February 2003.

After MDC, Omar joined McKinsey & Co, London, and operated in Kuala Lumpur. He later co-founded Ethos & Co. in February 2002.

In February 2004, he was appointed Special Officer 1 to the Deputy Prime Minister. A deed of settlement was signed in May 2005 and he was to serve the Government of Malaysia for an assigned period of 4 years 10 months. In the event of another breach of contract, he will be required to pay a settlement of RM120,000.

Omar resigned and rejoined Ethos & Co. in February 2006.

Appreciate you could publish this comment in your blog in order to get reactions from Omar Ong or Petronas to this revealed details.

This should serve to alert Najib that the man he agreed to be appointed as Director for Petronas is a Petronas Scholar who defaulted on his loan.

Najib's insistance on the Board of Director of Petronas to appoint Omar Ong will put them in a difficult position to breach their own internally long practised policies and will be expected to be given exception.

As another Petronas Scholar, I ask why should defaulter Omar be an exception?

A Voice said...


Your comment have to be removed becasue you are linking it to an article that intellectually inapt.

Their idea of answering and discussing issues is by doing character assasination refusing to rebut any sensible suues discussed here.

Just like Sak, I am moderating and refusing low quality comments and links.

A Voice said...


That is an irresponsible act called blind loyalty.

It is for reasons like this the country, party and casue will be ruined for the act of bodeking the leaders.

It does not help Najib's casue. He needs to be hear valuable feedback.

Grow kids!

Anonymous said...

So what about Mr Omar Ong breaching a scholarship contract that offers a job that does not meet his capability and potential?

I'm one as well, an ex-Petronas scholar that gets too damned tired with the un-attractive and professionalism destroying early career with Petronas and off I go.Not to mention the office politics and promotional opportunities. Its just sickening to see cronyism and government-like attitude of the people inside.

Now where I am after 10 years? Earning 10x more than, knowing 10x more and 10x more satisfied than my fellow scholars who remains in there.

Its plainly professional, nothing personal, just business. Nothing to do with Patriotic Discounts that Petronas Mongers like Petronas Scholar here claims.

If one is good, he deserves it. Not to be pinned down with political lobbying like some tried here.

A massive change is needed in Petronas for Malaysia's own sake!


The Guardian said...

From the way things are going on between the present federal administration and the alternative media - especially the victorious crack cyber shock troopers of anti-Pak Lah movement - the nation would be left with another weak and indecisive governmnt post-Pak Lah. To PM Najib: Sir,in your decision-making it is important for your to take heed of all the pros and cons. However, at the end of the day, the onus is on you, and you alone, to make that decision; no matter unpopular the decision is. What matters most is whatever decisions made must be based on current realities and future needs of the 27 million or so Malaysians; and not neccessarily what our heroic cyber warriors wants them to be. Remember the age-old adage: with higher office comes greater responsibilities. Just as it is well within our Cyber warriors right to criticise, it is also within your prerogative, as the nation's Chief Executive Officer, to decide.

My Say