Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Pearls & Gem : Mohd Hassan Marican

Friends ,

I actually reserve the 'personalities' section of my blog writing on 'non well known 'people whom I know and happened to criss-cross in this narrow field of mine but somehow today I will write on someone whom everybody know : Tan Sri Mohd Hassan Marican of Petrolium Nasional Berhad .My sixth sense tells me I need to as I do not know how long my friend here can 'bertahan' in Petronas with the changing of guard at the highest level of the Nation about to happen soon !

Hassan was just an ordinary student at the Malay College Kuala Kangsar .By 'kolek' standard of that time if you were not a prefect ,a school Colours Winner or in The ALL Blacks school rugby team ,or a frequent DC [ detention class ] atendees ,you were quite ordinary ! No ,Hassan was not quite ordinary .He played cricket for 'kolek' and that mean he got to brush shoulder with Encik Aziz ,the 6 foot 4 inch headmaster [ the 1st Asian headmaster after a long string of Mat Sallehs ,one or two on hindsight I suspect were probably MI5 intellectual hardcore operatives , permanently 'brain damaged' either at Cambridge or Oxford ,you know the 'John Le Carre' type of characters ,like 'The Spy Who walks in From The Cold '],and get fine dining and teas every so often .

The cricket boys were considered 'jambus'in 'kolek' ,I mean it was not rugby but who cared , Encik Aziz loved cricket !So , as Hassan was the cricket captain of the school , he got to be near 'god' every week .The 'High Teas' and the 'High Table' lunches ,my god ,Hassan had it so good ! As he has now ,on a daily basis at the Petroluem Club , brushing shoulders with the who's who of Kuala Lumpur ,corporate 'surgeons' ,political heavyweights and the occasional 'pirates' and 'robbers' of the daylight kinds !.

When we all wanted to be just doctors ,lawyers and NEB engineers ,Hassan and a few others [ like Saleh Sulong ,latter of DRB HICOM fame ]chose to do accountancy in the UK .When people were in a hurry to come back home and get employed he remained in the UK with ,if I am not mistaken one of the 'Big Four',Price Waterhouse .Years later when we were happy drawing just 4 figures salaries Hassan catapulted back to Malaysia as an expatriate drawing 5 figures Mat Salleh's renumeration !Lucky he .Then a senior position in Hanafiah Raslan and Mohamed .Then was headhunted by Tan Sri Basir to join Petronas .I lost that part of Petronas history whether he joined as President or as one of the VP's .He took a drastic pay cut joining Petronas and even now is the lowest paid CEO of a petroluem company in the world !

Well Petronas is not all Hassan and Hassan is not Petronas .One must remember the guy who first conceptualised this National Oil Giant :Ku Li .One must remember Dato Rastam Hadi ,the chap who dared to confront Esso and Shell in those heydays of 'high sea daylight robbery ' and gave them the ultimatum : you guys play by our rules or you guys ship out ! Hassan only came in when all these nitty gritty have been settled out by these early giants .Ku Li conceptualised Petronas ,Rastam Hadi got tough with the big boys of the oil multinationals to have some semblance of a fairdeal in profit sharing ,and Hassan got Petronas out of just being a 'production sharer' into a respectable global explorer ,player and expanded further related downstream petrochemical activities .

Now ,someone may say this is no great shake ,does not require a lot of imagination to run a national oil company ,as the 'money' keep coming out of the ground !Precisely !when a lot of money keep coming out of the ground is where in Malaysia you need a serious and clear thinking gatekeeper like Hassan .

Petronas is every politician's grandfather's company .They think it is their godsend right to rape and plunder : When Bank Bumi went under due to so many heavyweight UMNOputras ,politicians and people with the right political connections not paying their uncollateralised loans which ran into billions ,they turn to Petronas to bail out BBMB, BMF debacle ,again Petronas .That young business wizard who purchased a huge fleet of junked ships from the Hongkies , KWSP misshap ,and last but not least , Bank Negara's money market debacle in the 90's by that mamak fellow who later got promoted , all of these failures also probably conveniently referred back to Petronas to bail out,I dunno ,just perhaps !

When someone felt KL need a 6 star hospital ,Petronas again was called to do it .It was so much cost over run that it became a standing joke amongst the'medical fraternity' who know that on average the building cost for a decent 5 star private hospital is just well under 300k RM per bed .Prince Court is well beyond 1 million RM per bed ! Several change of plan ,several change of consultants :So much for doing business in your 'non-core' speciality !

More interestingly now another someone had asked Petronas to get involve in the 'boer goat' business for the East Coast Economic Corridor .A large farm has been bought in Fontainebleu ,South Africa with Petronas funding ,as I heard from reliable sources . How many more millions are going down the drain I would not like to guess .Small change perhaps ,a necessary evil the responsible corporate citizen ,that is Petronas , need to do for "Bangsa ,ugama dan negara !".

And all these evenwith spendrift Hassan at the helm ,when every ringgit and sen need to be accounted for .

Can one imagine if for instance in the not so distant future [ even 6 months down the lane ] if say some still 'wet in between the ears' KJ-like clones or some other Uxbridge clowns hand picked and 100 % wired and configured to the new Sri Perdana Putrajaya occupants were to be heading Petronas ,what will happen ? With no focus ,wisdom and global understanding of the complex oil business ,before long it will be like Pertamina .Indonesia produces more than a million barrel of crude oil per day and where is Pertamina today ? Stories of huge sales being conducted on the 'high seas' etc etc ,under the counter far beyond the official ones ..Nigeria is another example .one of the biggest oil producer in the world and probably one of the poorest nation on earth as well .

Perhaps not many know that Bintulu alone contributes about 25 % of the gross national income on a daily basis just from exporting liquefied gases !If some still 'wet in between the ears' Pemudas out there are already salivating at the mouth to be the next CEO of Petronas ,let us the raayats tell them right on that all of them have neither the experience nor the prequalications ,moral or academic ,not to mention the necessary 'fear of god' factor,to head this "national gold mine of the raayats" ,fullstop .Please' bugger off' .

Hassan Marican is still good for another 5 to 6 years ! You guys who want his job have to keep working at it !

Perhaps the 'mother' of all nightmares as some imaginative friends of mine shared over a heady brew of tea tarik last night would be that of Mrs PM .If she ever does visit Suria KLCC it is the onus of the Suria KLCC chairman to keep her so busy doing FOC shopping ,compliment from Petronas ,just up to Level Four with the branded shops ,and never to look up beyond level four . .Dont allow her to look up lest she may be tempted to insist on an office for say Balkis , near the current Petronas adviser's on the top floor .That would be too close for comfort they think ! They are a wee bit too harsh in their perception as people change or can change as Malaysian leopards do ,but then again ,Human Greed Knows No Bound .

We are living in interesting and dangerous time indeed !

Dr Nik Howk


Anonymous said...

Dear Nik,
I'm dreaming a day that every Malaysian would be awarded shares of Petronas just like the Goverment of Brunie offering free shares to her citizens.

Pearls & Gem said...

Rahmat ,

That would be nice but not as important as 'accountable account' of what the govt of the day does with the money contributed annually by the company .We do not want the fund to be used for 'buying' votes at elections and bye elections for instance ,'war chest' to fund election spending ,buying over MP's ,covering bad debts and 'financial blunders' etc etc etc .

The ECER thing if done properly is not a bad idea but usually given our present culture of 'non accountability' pervading everywhere many millions will be lost .

That brought me to the recent comment by the Hon Tengku Rithauddeen who was asked to analyse money politics in UMNO and he came out with the strong recommendation that they do away with the Youth ,Puteri and Wanita Wings .Do you know that the going rate to be just a Pemuda [ mind you this is not the Senior post ,just Pemuda] branch rep now is more than half million RM !

But once you are Pemuda Branch rep you get to sit on so many councils and that is where you rake back what you have spent .The whole system in UMNO stinks !How do najib Tun Razak change this went he grew up in this culture !

Anonymous said...

Dear Nik,

UMNO should get rid of Pemuda, Wanita and Putera; there should be only UMNO members. Not even for Veterens.
UMNO has been practising caste system in heirarchical order to maintain their power grip.
Even after UMNO abolishes this caste system, money polyics would remain. Because, for ages, Malays used to be toll colllector, from Malacca time to the present time. They prefer makan atas angin, dapat duit free, Ali-Baba, permit for sale or sorts.Whatmore, there are political boys around who distribute money prior to UMNO Election/Erection!

Pearls & Gem said...

I suspect by the next GE there will be a catharsis of sort .Excessess of the past will no longer go unnoticed and uncriticised .

Must be pretty painful for old man Ku Deen whose sincere assessment and recommendations were just pushed aside by all and sundry .Like the Congress Party of India ,we are seeing the dying throes of a dinosaur that cannot change .A pity .

Anonymous said...

I am a loyalist by nature.I spent some 9 years in Mardi and another 19 years in Petronas working in the lab. Cant help this sinking feeling of hopelessness when it comes to what is happening now with the Malays in UMNO and Malays & others in the present political catastrophe. I used to feel very very proud when on a bus in London, an American critises Mahathir & a Pakistani cab driver talks highly of Mahathir. Trust me they know him by name. He is a visionary and faulted for being human, I find it hard to even think if there is any real successors, Najib included. If my memory didnt fail me, Tun M was the one who said Malaysia needs a guided democracy. I tend to agree in the sense that it seems NOW, with AB opening the floodgates, everyone has something to say in the media, even Samy Velu has an opinion on the Hudud laws. So much so that during present government, there is utter confusion among simple folks like the man on the street like me, who are least interested in politics. With the coming April, are we sinking further? I am afraid to think that coming back to good people being swept aside, our dear President of Petronas, Tan Sri Hassan, needs more than a cricket 'god father' to save him.

Pearls & Gem said...

I share your apprehension .And I think our main 'penyakit' is back to increasing materialism in our society .UMNO used to be a party of Cik Gu's with old world idealism .Then the contracotrs came in ,then the corporate guys took over .MCA had long being all business from time immemorial .

Now we even have royalties in business .Big business .No big deal provided everything is fair and square in war and peace .

Up to a point during your Dr M's era things was 'golden' until his children come of age and also get 'corporate' then we get blurring of his visions and directions . Same thing with AB .

Now some smart aleck will turn around and say what are the childrens of PM's and Ministers going to do except 'bang balls ' if they cannot go into business .Well they can but we must have institutions and rules in place to safegurd against vested interest etc etc .Sultans and anak sultan can go into business but let us have the guidelines now ,not 20 years later .

Otherwise you may repeat the same mistakes of young punks like that business wizard I mention earlier going on a rampage and expecting public funding to bail them out .Rafidah's case with her son in law just went off like that .Our memories are short .

There are business and business one can do that does not involve govt tenders etcetc .

Get the guidelines and rules in place and implement them .Otherwise if we cant ,one must follow Ronald Reagan's whose son was not a corporate bug gun but just a 'dancer' .I can still remeber Mark Thacher ,,how the British public gave him hell when he took advantage of his position with the Sheikh in an arms deal during his mother's tenure os PM .It got so bad he finally migrated to the US and become a 2nd hand car salesman for sometime .That is the price of being a numero uno public figure .You cannot have the cake and want to eat it at the same time.

Anonymous said...

Put them all in the place where they should belong in the first place...and it needs gut and cunning to do that.Ask Dr M...