Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Profligate Prodigal Petronas

I cannot yet conceive of just how much a billion ringgit is, let alone sums like RM570 billion that Petronas has earned in the last 35 years. So what has it done with those mind-boggling lollies?

Squandered it?

According to a Malaysiakini news article, Petronas hits back at mismanagement charges, stating that it paid RM336 billion to the government, whilst investing the remaining locally, like laying gas pipelines and building processing and petrochemical plants.

But has that been it?

Of course not!

Malaysiakini in its Petronas bosses live like oil kings …….. well ........ need I say more?

Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng lambasted those pseudo-sheiks of oil, or oily pseudo-sheiks for living it like royalty at a time when millions of Malaysians are reeling from the impact of the fuel-price hike.

And may I say, even royalty may not live up to their publicly sponsored standards, not that the public knew (but only suspect) WTF was going on.

According to Lim, the Petronas has purchased jets, helicopters, mansions and luxury cars, etc, for the use of its executives. He wants it to stop.

Hmmm, that’s like telling little Johnny boy to mind the cookie jar and not touch it. The trouble with some Malaysians is that they love to live it up, especially on unaccountable public expense account. Some people have expensive taste too, with other people's money.

Furthermore, Petronas operates like the CIA – no one knows WTF its officials have been or will be doing.

Economy-class air traveller Lim Guan Eng moaned: "They should stop behaving like kings who feel they are not accountable to anyone but themselves. They have private jets - we want to know how many. They have luxury cars - we want to know how many."

KNN, 'how maNNNY'? Wah, chea lart man (bloody terrible).

Then there have been the frequent organised trips abroad and costly banquets, and its officials' pseudo-refined taste involving expenditure of millions and millions of ringgit on maintaining the National Philharmonic Orchestra, which is staffed mainly by non-Malaysians - a
s the Chinese saying goes, "spending public millions to buy people's bums to use as their blooming faces".

Oh, don’t forget the annual Formula One race too.

And of course Petronas played the role of rich godfather, bailing out failed projects operated by you-know-who. The bloody huge safety net, but only for the favoured!

I cannot help but recall my school days when my school principal forced, yes, forced every student including the poor like me to buy at least RM3 worth of church fete ticket.

The old man didn’t use any recognized Christian approach. He was full of sarcasm, insults and dire threats for those who pleaded that their parents, or in my case (as with many other students) my widowed mum, couldn’t afford the RM3.

As typical of mums in those days, mine gave me hell for the RM3 she was forced to dole out. I haven’t stopped cursing the school principal yet.

On the day of the fete, at Wellesley Church, I walked up and down pondering how I could maximize my RM3 worth of ticket.

I saw and liked the nasi kunyit kari ayam which was RM1.50 a plate (aiyoh, too expensive lah for such a small plate), whilst the rose syrup ice water was RM1 (what! KNN), which would then leave me with an unusable 50 sen because every damn thing at the church fete was at least RM1. No way was I going to go home with this sum unspent. It would have been an unmitigated sin to waste 50 sen.

I agonized for over an hour about the best combination to use up the RM3. In the end I skipped the ice water and had 2 plates of the nasi kunyit which only served to keen up my appetite – guess I was just a born loser.

And the worst thing, because of my long agonising over the RM3, was that I didn’t have the untroubled mind and time to enjoy the event at all.

When I read of the Petronas obscene profligate shindig-ing I wonder where’s the bloody justice? Some people just can’t be trusted with money.


  1. Lim Guan Eng has been taking unnecessary risks by travelling the "Y class" way and thereby savings a few pennies for the Penang State government! Security is a problem in Malaysia and if something unfortunate happens to LGE...what's going to happen to Penang? Maybe we have many other very DAP leaders who can easily takeoevr his job as CM...

  2. Your article is oozing with anger trying to find fault for the increasing price of product but you are barking the wrong tree and asking the wrong question, hence no solution. Where did the money that PETRONAS gave to the Government go, that's the right question. The inefficient Government has now taken a backseat ride watching the ever-loyal national oil company get slaughtered by the public for the Government's own fiasco in managing the economy. PETRONAS is the scapegoat here. It takes some brain to think logically, pal unless you don't bother and just follow the ignorant masses.

    Jets, luxury cars, speed boats and all that sh*t, have you seen any of them, or you just blindly believe what Uncle Lim feeds you? Live like oil kings? PETRONAS is the lowest paid oil & gas company out of the 6 in Malaysia. I bet Guan Eng is using his imagination just to create chaos so that PETRONAS is ripped apart for rejecting his 2nd bridge financing. If you are a fair person (and a real man), come up with your own damn evidence before spewing those filth from your mouth. Don't incriminate others and yet asking them to provide evidence to dismiss your unfounded claim. That's just plain lame, you coward.

  3. I find CM Lim's comment on PETRONAS to be extremely insulting. As an employee for the company (and no..I am not a pro-BN supporter) I can honestly say that PETRONAS is the best managed company in Malaysia. The senior management are all experts in the oil industry, they trained internally and promoted internally from within the company. They are not government appointed personnel. Tan Sri Hassan has done a wonderful job of transforming a small national oil company into a Fortune 500 powerhouse (despite the politics and pressures to save every Malaysian company in dire straits).

    If you want to blame someone for the oil money, blame the PM for squandering the huge amount PETRONAS has paid to the Malaysian government.

    Everytime I go on overseas assignment work on company project, everyone there looks up to our knowledge and professionalism, it is insulting to have everyone at home spit on us. So I only have one response F.U. and a rubber hose.

    PS, BTW Petronas employees are highly sought after by foreign oil co's, and dont be surprised if, PR takes over and squanders PETRONAS accounts for popularity sakes under poorly planned subsidies, alot of PETRONAS staff will move to foreign oil companies, and then you all will be proud for killing the only shining beacon of professionalism in Malaysia.

  4. petronas has no private jet. they just sometimes rent private jet to go to places like sudan, uzbekistan that takes longer time to reach using commercial flights on need basis.

  5. Reminded me of my schooldays when a teacher forced the entire top class to purchase a set of magazines because he assumed that every student in that top class were from affluent families

  6. Anwar promises to reduce the gas price (by using PETRONAS money) and you criticize him.

    If it was Guan Eng, Karpal, Kit, or another DAP guy... you'd be saying something else

    Although I'm all for reduction in petrol prices.

  7. anons

    why so defensive? let petronas come out firing if lim ( and kaytee)'s comments are bull. they have all the hard evidence and if its proven that lim ( and therefore kaytee) is barking up the wrong tree, let then apologise.
    sure, the govt has squandered billions and where were you guys then? nto a squeak from you all, i guess. hey, you are the only guilty ones. I was too at that time.

  8. brighteyes, I would criticize DAP leaders for suggesting that we continue subsidizing fuel. My criticism was not at Anwar the man but rather at his nonsensical promise to lower price below RM1.92.

    My criticism of Petrona is for wasteful expenditure, based on what I have read in MKINI - eg. why maintain a Philharmonic Orchestra at such staggering cost (and employing foreigners to staff the orchestra) when we are still not a 1st world nation yet? The money could be better used as scholarships for deserving students, or endowing public libraries with more materials, etc.

    It's typical wasteful 'style mau, kalah ta'apa' mentality, exclusively for the pleasure of society's elite rather than the rakyat.

  9. ayyo...

    ask govt lah where did money from loyalty, tax and dividend go....

    byk woo from 500 billion, and 300 billion kasi to govt... more than half...ask pak lah..maybe can ask KJ also where the money went...

    oil n gas is not cheap business .. upstream business such exploration, platforms, vessels, downstream such as petrochem...
    mau pakai byk duit... bukan business jual kain

    i'm not petronas staff but work in oil and gas field service provider

    i dunno la where is the legit resource say about petronas managements live like kings...

    malaysian staffs who work with foreign petroleum companies are paid even better... and even treated better

    buang philharmonic also cannot save malaysia if govt dunno how to spend petronas money smartly

  10. some of the petronas' projects is under a direct order from the government. u think petronas like to invest in a business that is not related to oil & gas? what good petronas gets from the putrajaya? u guys simply don't understand coz u guys not in the oil & gas industry.

    i agree, the right question to ask is how the govt spend the 300 billion. not where did the remaining 200 billion goes.

    i don't agree with the statement that said petronas management live like kings. do u ever meet tan sri in person? do u ever seen his home?

    pls verify the facts before making any critics. pls...

    ppl like u make the malaysian staff goes to foreign companies, coz u treat them like hell..

  11. to think that after 3/8 bloggers and fellow m'sians can take a break from the good fight. looks like the battle has only started and much more work needs to be done. soldier on everyone, we need as many perspectives on the issues to be able to have a good look at it.

    the main task at hand right now, i think, is to untangle the politics (read bn) that has been entrenched in every facet of malaysian life (in no particular order) like the civil service, glcs, education, and even jkk in villages.

    it has been this association/interference of politics that has brought upon this present mess. we can only slowly inch our way back to the right path, if there is one. it's only normal for any johnnies to stick their hand into the cookie jar when no one's watching. so hopefully, people will not take their watchful gaze off when times are good and only start complaining when things go sour.

  12. Dear KTemoc

    As M'sians we all have a stake and interest in how Petronas performs. To guage this , we need more detailed financial and operational information which so far is conspicuous by its dearth.

    But, generally, Petronas has performed well over the years, and it is a fact that Hassan Merican & petronas have a solid (good) reputation internationally.

    So, we must distinguish between Petronas & its performance, and The Govt which has misspent a lot of the profits, tax and dividends provided by Petronas.

    The recent 40% increase in petrol price is a Govt decision, not Petronas'. Using Petro $ to bail-out croney companies and for Mega White Elephant projects is Govt mismanagement, not Petronas.

    So, we should take the Govt to taks 1st, not Petronas.

    As usual, your cut-and-paste blog is long on allegations and short on facts. LGE is a politician and so we can give him some latitude to attack Petronas since Petronas has money, but the Govt wants to spend it on wasteful projects.

    But you should not parrot these allegations of Petronas proflifgacy and executives living like Maharajas, unless you can substantiate it.

  13. I don't know about others but Petronas Chairman TS Hassan certainly isn't living like an oil Sheikh. He is staying in my neighborhood ( a middle class ). years ago while still a successful partner of a prominent accounting firm, he bought over his neighbor's semi D and convert the 2 units to a modest bungalow which in my view already befits his financial status then. He continues to stay there until today. On certain mornings, I would saw him on the way to work early in the morning just like any typical office worker. He is chauffered driven in a modest BMW which is expected of person of his status. Based on these facts he does not fit into the profile of a high flying oil baron.

  14. Dear kaytee,

    I always admired your post, but I have to disagree with this one.

    May I ask where do you get your source from? malaysiakini? you have on many occasions disagree with a lot of articles there, so why so conveniently lift this off malaysiakini without verifying the facts?Petronas is to you, guilty until it managed to prove its innocence.

    The lifestyle of Tan Sri Hassan Merican is not that much different from a middle management executive in other MNC. Many are shocked to see that his salary is so low.

    Like so many other posts, I would like to ask;
    Is your angst and frustration channeled correctly? you disapprove of the price hike, the way government spend money..or PETRONAS?

    Jets, helis, mansions, luxury cars?
    expats community certainly get allowance to rent apartments nearby klcc. luxury cars? i don't know of this, so I cant comment. helicopters? of cos we need them to go offshore, to go to isolated places in deserts to our oil rigs. Jets are charted esp in more hostile countries, like sudan. this is to avoid road travel by petronas staffs, for safety reasons.

    Petronas has always been prudent in spending, and some projects undertaken by petronas, e.g philharmonic orchestra are request from government.
    ever wonder why it was named Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra first before changing its name it Petronas Philharmonic Orchestra?
    Many have enjoyed the beautiful music and the occasional plays/theatre for free or heavily subsidized price. its not uncommon to see 'rombongan' of school kids to klcc for orchestra, for petroscience and aquaria. We now also have a a PETRONAS performing arts group. For RM20, most Malaysian can afford to enjoy a live orchestra. Shouldn't this be something to be proud of?
    (btw, this point is not in your initial post, until someone questioned you for your basis of accusation)

    A lot of petronas staffs are on the brink of going to middle east offering much better salary.
    with the ill-informed bashing from the rakyat, the PR governments and taichi played by BN government, i pray for the survival of petronas

    For your information, Petronas staffs gets no discount on petrol. We are suffering just as every one else is. Unlike most companies offering discount on their products or services, Petronas staffs do not get them.

    As for other points raised;
    1. Frequently organised trips abroad and costly banquets? petroleum industry is highly internationalized. so a lot of the operations, vendors, fabrication yards, plants are scattered around the world. Conferences where petronas present papers are usually overseas too. trips overseas are because of business requirement. except for the few high level management, most Petronas staffs can only travel economy class. Costly banquets? there are no annual dinners for petronas companies. and btw, which company does not have 'makan makan' and dinners for their staffs? From end of last yr, Petronas has undergone cost reduction to cut excesses. For example, no more kuih and fruits for meetings, and internet is not provided to all staffs anymore.
    2. Petronas is like a CIA, accountable only to themselves.
    PETRONAS is under the petroleum act is only answerable to the PM, so you have to bring this to the government, not PETRONAS; to change the law. We do realize we are the custodian of a very valuable natural resource, we are duty-bound to optimize this. In the end of the day, we are still answerable to God, to ourselves and to the people.