The calls made by United Malay Economic Action Council (MTEM) for Shamsul Azhar Abbas (pic) resigns as president of Petronas begins to smell fish, especially when the nation is preparing for the 13th general elections.
Shamsul, appointed by Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak two years ago has been blamed for not opening up the oil conglomerate to more Bumiputera participation, an allegation he already denied many times.
MTEM, led by chairman Syed Ali Alatas had a 2-hour discussion with Petronas' top level management on Wednesday and the company promised to 'look into the matter'. Syed Ali said, the demand stays.
On February 2, MTEM, an umbrella body of 63 Malay business groups, had called on Shamsul to quit the state oil company's board before Election 2013, claiming Petronas had failed to protect Bumiputera interests and instead given priority to foreign firms.Nizam himself was a bit considerate by saying MTEM will get evidence, data and feedback about all allegation made against Petronas and its president.
It further accused the Petronas chairman of sidelining Bumiputera companies, including those that were qualified, when it dished out contracts for its projects.
The council alleged that Petronas's cash flow had dwindled to RM162.2 billion, a drop of RM2.1 billion, and that profit after tax showed a downward trend that included closing down operations in Sudan.
MTEM expressed concern that Malaysia's only Fortune 500 company would be gambling its valuation risk worth RM300 billion over the next five years.
Syed Ali said today the council would submit tomorrow (Friday) a letter demanding confirmation that Petronas would respect the negotiations made in yesterday's meeting.
"Its just a formality. I don't think there would be any problems for Petronas to reply within a week," he said.
MTEM chief executive Mohd Nizam Mahshar speaking at the same press conference said the council is now in the process of gathering feedbacks before it tables the issues in a meeting with Petronas at a date yet to be determined...
Until all tangible evidence and data are collected, such a call remains to be a subject of prejudice and unjustified.
However, Syed Ali remained uncompromising, and this has raised question as to whether he carried someone's instruction to scrutinise Shamsul and Petronas at a time when Barisan Nasional's strategy for the general elections, among others is to woo more Malay/Bumiputera votes and support.
What actually drives him, is only a guessing game but the timing is not very collaborative. I am not saying its wrong to dig out discrepancies and irregularities at our GLCs or government agencies but we should well look into its impact of the upcoming national poll on Barisan Nasional.
In fact MTEM gets more louder of late in making such a demand.
Does Syed Ali realise that there are other GLC and government agencies that sidelined Bumiputera entrepreneurs. Even a ministry under a non-Umno minister awarded less than 10 per cent of its projects to Bumiputeras.
But why didn't MTEM or Syed Ali make any noise about it?