23.6.08

timber timber...

The 'timber' issues (in bold) apply to our state, something that we don't realize, even myself included.

PETRONAS a victim of its own success

MUCH has been bandied recently in the press about PETRONAS and it would appear that in a rather unfair way PETRONAS has been a victim of its own success.

Having worked in PETRONAS in the 80s through the mid-90s, I think I am in a position to offer certain insights about PETRONAS.

First, if PETRONAS was not formed way back in 1974, petroleum resources in this country would have ended up in the same current state of affairs as timber i.e. in the control of the respective state governments.

Why has it not dawned upon any politician or NGO to question what has happened to or, more pertinently, who have been the beneficiaries of timber revenues? Why is there no similar call for transparency on the accounts of the state governments or their statutory agencies entrusted with regulating or managing the timber resources, which are also the assets of the rakyat?

Secondly, with the ownership and management of all petroleum resources consolidated under a company, not a statutory agency, the former Prime Minister Tun Razak created the opportunity for PETRONAS to be run as a business by professionals. And this was well before the privatisation era of Tun Dr. Mahathir.

This opportunity was not fully exploited in the formative years of PETRONAS as its management and staff were on the learning curve in understanding the oil business and dealing with the multi-national oil companies. With the entry of Tan Sri Azizan in the mid-80s and subsequently Tan Sri Hassan Marican, that opportunity was exploited and, as we now know, with much ensuing success.

Having worked through those earlier formative years of PETRONAS, I wish to highlight that the public ought to realise that it has taken a lot of hard work for PETRONAS to be now accepted by the oil majors as a company they can and wish to do business with, in particular outside Malaysia.

By the same token, just like any professionally managed company, there are certain confidential information and trade secrets that PETRONAS cannot divulge without adverse impact on its own business.

Most importantly, I must on behalf of all right-thinking Malaysians salute Tun Razak for his wisdom and temerity to push through the resistance of certain states, in particular Sabah, to consolidate the ownership of petroleum resources in this country under Petronas.

Look at how difficult it is today to deal with the consolidation of management of inter-state water utilisation, water being another state-owned resource like timber.

Without PETRONAS, we could have ended up not quite differently from the timber situation and the petroleum resources would selectively produce some individual oil barons in oil-producing states, not unlike our timber tycoons.

K H LIM,

Petaling Jaya

Source: The Star, 20 June 2008

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