MP: Petronas not the PM’s property, should instead answer to Parliament

Subang Jaya MP Wong Chen speaks to reporters during a media conference at Parliament, Kuala Lumpur August 6, 2020. — Picture by Hari Anggara
Subang Jaya MP Wong Chen speaks to reporters during a media conference at Parliament, Kuala Lumpur August 6, 2020. — Picture by Hari Anggara

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 6 — Subang MP Wong Chen demanded today that the government explain its latest refusal to give Parliament oversight of state oil firm Petronas.

Wong said this was not the first time he raised this matter but was revisiting it since Petronas and other oil companies were grappling with depressed oil prices globally.

“The reply I got from the prime minister is that Petronas is managed by excellent senior executives and its directors are equally excellent and all are committed to good corporate governance with the highest level of integrity.

“I do not doubt the quality and experience of the executives and directors, but, it can be so much better if there were better checks and balances and zero political interference,” he told reporters today during a press conference at the Parliament building here.

The PKR MP, who is also the chair of the International Relations and Trade Select Committee, insisted that not all of Petronas’s “national services” were necessary, and that some were only undertaken due to allegedly poor fiscal discipline within the federal Cabinet.

“When this happens, Petronas should be accountable to Parliament and in fact, MPs should defend Petronas from any feckless request for funds from the Cabinet,” he said.

He added that he was doggedly pursuing the matter as Petronas was a state firm, not the property of the prime minister and should consequently not be answerable to him alone.

“This is (stated) in the Petronas Development Act 1974, it’s very clear, (that) only he (prime minister) can know what is the situation in Petronas,” he said.

He acknowledged that that the problem persisted even when Pakatan Harapan had been in power, noting that he also received a similar reply when he sought the amendment then.

“So with the new government, I want to see if there is a change on this matter.

“Of course it’s possible for them to tell us about Petronas’ oil secrets, but it is possible for it (government) to appoint a select committee, sign a non-disclosure agreement, for us to at least understand (what’s happening).

“Also, every time Petronas publishes its annual report, they have to come and brief the Parliament. It cannot be just — brief the prime minister — we need to know about basic issues,” he said.

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