Mohsin Abdullah: Just why did Mahathir quit as Petronas adviser? 

Mohsin Abdullah, 

Just what is the story behind the story of Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s resignation as Petronas adviser? Is there really a story behind the story?  

But first the reason for Mahathir to quit Petronas – that the doctor told him to take it easy. In other words due to “health reasons”.

Pro Mahathir bloggers (or those close to the former PM) do not seem to be buying that.

Datuk A Kadir Jasin is one. He wrote in his blog that while he took the doctor’s  advice at face value,  but “what I know is he does not have to climb 88 floors to get to his office at Petronas and the job was not  9 to 5 , seven days a week. He can even advise without being there”.

To Syed Akbar Ali of Outsyed The Box fame, the “give away”‘ was when Mahathir said he was not thinking about quitting as Proton adviser yet.

“Rupanya Tun Dr Mahathir sakit masa kat Petronas saja. Masa kat Proton Tun sihat. Alhamdulillah ”. That’s Malay for “Looks like Tun Dr Mahathir is sick only at Petronas.  At Proton Tun is in good health. Praise be to Allah”. That’s  how Outsyed The Box puts it.

As we know , Mahathir is also adviser to LADA, ( the Langkawi Development  Authority ),  TDA ( Pulau Tioman Development Authority)  and chancellor of Universiti Teknologi Petronas.

So I ask again – is there a story behind the story of him quitting Petronas?

Syed Akbar and  Kadir seem to “imply” there is. Or at least “suggest”. Or “suspect” such a thing.

According to Syed Akbar, what he heard was “Dr Mahathir is getting tired of this fellow: Omar Mustapha Ong, who is now ‘de facto’ boss of Petronas”.

And  Syed Akbar went on to write :” He is the PM’s closest ‘adviser’. The PM appointed him a board member of Petronas. Talk is Dr Mahathir’s  letters and queries to Petronas went unanswered. Letters he wrote went unanswered for three months. So Dr Mahathir got fed up and decided to throw in his shoes”.

Kadir had a similar tone, writing in his blog thus: “He is better off letting go of the Petronas job than hanging on to it and risk suffering the heartache of being spurned by The Power that now controls the national oil company”.

And just who might “The Power” be?

“Everybody knows that the single most influential person among Petronas’ board members is Omar Ong and everybody knows that Dr. Mahathir objected to his appointment,” wrote Kadir.

Among Mahathir’s parting words were, “I hope Petronas will continue to play its role in nurturing young entrepreneurs, “as quoted by English daily The Star.

To Kadir,  “that bit  about continuing to nurture young entrepreneurs is loaded because he was recently embroiled in a tussle of sorts with the Petronas management over allegations that the national oil company was not doing enough to help Bumiputera businessmen”.

The allegations Kadir was talking about are the ones brought up by Malay lobby group Majlis Tindakan Ekonomi Melayu or MTEM who according to Datuk Ahirudin Attan of Rocky Bru “has been arm twisting Najib Razak to sack Shamsul Azhar Abas, the CEO of Petronas”.

According to Ahirudin, Mahathir “had made time for them” and MTEM then  wanted to meet the PM but did not get to meet Datuk Seri Najib Razak. The PM, wrote Ahirudin, being a busy man “had to get one of his advisers to stand in and listen to the MTEM guys on his behalf.

The rep listened, accepted a memorandum for the PM containing pages and pages on why Shamsul should be sacked and then had to take the rest of the week off to seek therapy, I was told. It was that bad”.

MTEM’s grouses over Petronas have been rumbling for some time. But in February it was reported that a meeting was held between MTEM and Petronas which was chaired by Shamsul.

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