KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 9 — In an expletive-ridden rant today, the Malay Economic Action Council (MTEM) castigated Petronas chief Tan Sri Shamsul Azhar Abas over the alleged mistreatment of the state oil firm's former adviser Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
The Malay business lobby group later retracted part of their emotional descriptions of Shamsul in a news conference, but related allegations of high-handed action against the former prime minister within 24 hours of Dr Mahathir's departure from the Petronas office here last month.
“Is this how a national oil company treat a man who was very instrumental at turning Petronas into a Fortune 500 company and equipped with undeniable contribution in his 27 years and to date tenure?
“Are they really that glad to let him go?” Nizam Mahshar, chief executive of MTEM told reporters here.
MTEM representatives railed against Shamsul in the news conference, with Tengku Putra Tengku Ahmad, the council's Oil and Gas Cluster chief, using a derogatory word on Shamsul.
Moments after uttering it however, Tengku Putra said he retracted the word, claiming he made it in an emotional state.
Earlier in the press conference, MTEM accused Petronas of stonewalling its detractors by ignoring their criticism and complaints.
The council also accused Petronas of mounting a costly media campaign in a bid to bury any criticism towards the oil and gas giant.
It gave, as an example of Petronas’ attempt to quell criticism, the sudden award of contracts to Bumiputera firms and personalities.
MTEM said Dr Mahathir would not quit due to health reasons alone.
It claimed Petronas’ lack of engagement with its critics, including some Malay businessmen, that prompted the 88-year-old resignation.
“Tun Dr Mahathir would not resign for health reasons alone. On the contrary, we can see clearly that Tun is still a very healthy statesman who continues to actively advocate or share his thoughts and experiences both through his engagements and his writings.
“His office is still as busy as ever, and yet Petronas chose to treat him like a sore thumb,” Nizam said.
MTEM also alleged that under Shamsul’s leadership, Petronas restructured strategic policies that supposedly resulted in a massive decline of Malaysians in the local oil and gas industry.
The council also claimed that the firm’s investments are now biased towards developed nations.
It added that this policy is hurting Petronas’ ties with its Third World partners that has lasted decades.
Dr Mahathir announced his resignation as Petronas adviser in a letter to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak dated December 1, 2013.
State news agency Bernama reported Dr Mahathir saying it was time for him to leave the national oil corporation so he could concentrate on his health.
Dr Mahathir was discharged from the National Heart Institute on November 25 last year after being admitted on November 16 for a chest infection.
The day after, Najib asked Dr Mahathir to reconsider quitting.
Dr Mahathir then announced he was having second thoughts.