Throughout the years, Dr Mahathir allowed Tan Sri Azizan Zainul Abidin and Tan Sri Hassan Marican to have sufficient freedom in making their business decisions while ensuring that Petroliam Nasional continuously backed the Government's Budget and economic plans.
It was more like a win-win and "you happy, I happy" concept between the Government and Petronas.
The political interference began with the Omar Mustapha saga. The BOD, whose confidence lies with TS Hassan, initially rejected the "appointment" of Omar Mustapha to the Board.
The Prime Minister's office was not willing to budge and in the end, Omar Mustapha was "reluctantly" accepted as Director of Petronas.
Of course, this drew unhappiness among several mainstream bloggers (source: Rockybru ; related : BDDC). TS Hassan Marican lost Round 1 there.
But TS Hassan Marican won Round 2 when he made a "purely business" decision to sponsor Mercedes F1 team instead of Lotus F1, a project led by Tony Fernandes and Co.
Finally, TS Hassan Marican lost Round 3 when his contract was not renewed and his "in house" succession plan was snubbed.
After saying all these, the Petroleum Development Act 1974 should be amended I feel. At the moment, Petronas is answerable solely to the Prime Minister of Malaysia.
I would prefer to see a collective decision making system which involves
- the Advisor of Petronas,
- the Management and Board of Directors as well as
- the Prime Minister himself.
This triangular form of organization - Advisory panel, Management as well as the Prime Minister's Office - will be a better "Government - Business" model.
Whatever it is, I am irritated to see how Najib's Administration sidelined Tan Sri Hassan Marican and his management team lately.
There was actually a succession plan laid by Tan Sri Hassan Marican but by now, we all know it has been "shredded".
In fact, a new succession plan is rumoured to be formulated and prepared by Najib and Datuk Shamsul Azhar Abbas.
The last time Dr Mahathir lost his cool, our Statesman blasted Abdullah Badawi for not renewing Tan Sri Tengku Mahaleel Ariff's contract with Proton which had strong financial standing under him. The end result saw tePak Lah'snure as PM "shortened" than intended.
I am interested to hear Tun M's comments on the latest revelations in Petronas. Before this, there were reports that Tun M backed the renewal of TS Hassan Marican's contract
Datuk Shamsul will be under pressure to maintain the trust placed in him by Najib. But I doubt that the stakes are high though.
Any failure on his side will only further substantiate a greater plan.
The "soon-to-be-groomed" successor in the new succession plan should be "ready" to be appointed by Najib as Chairman and CEO of Petronas then, right ?
The way TS Hassan Marican's exit was handled showed great disrespect to his contributions and commitment to Petronas all these years.
Surely, his "retirement" looked like a forced one. It is unfair to the man who continued the legacy of Tan Sri Azizan and dynamically reinvented Petronas into a global Fortune 500 company which some of us agreed to describe as a Malay corporate success.
I believe the staff in Petronas share similar opinions with me too.
Whatever it is, thank you Tan Sri Hassan Marican for transforming Petronas into a strong and profitable company that benefited Malaysians in all forms of subsidies, fiscal policies and economic plans YEAR AFTER YEAR !