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