12 March 2016

Tun Dr Mahathir's Appointment as Petronas Advisor Terminated

On 11th March 2016, local newspapers began to cover the story of Tun Dr. Mahathir's termination as Petronas advisor. For those who don't know, Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamed was Malaysia's fourth prime minister, and its longest serving PM to boot.

An extract from The Star:
“Cabinet decided that since Tun Mahathir is no longer supporting the current Government, he should no longer hold any position related to the Government. Therefore, the Cabinet today agreed unanimously to terminate the appointment of Tun Mahathir as advisor to Petronas,” said a statement by the Prime Minister’s Office.

The PMO said on Friday that Cabinet had discussed Dr Mahathir’s actions, particularly in launching the so-called “Citizens’ Declaration” with Opposition leaders last week.

“The declaration aims to topple the democratically-elected Government led by the Prime Minister, and is therefore against the law and the Federal Constitution,” it said.

Last Friday, Dr Mahathir and other signatories – including former deputy prime minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, former Kedah mentri besar Datuk Seri Mukhriz Mahathir, DAP adviser Lim Kit Siang, former MCA president Tun Dr Ling Liong Sik, Amanah president Mohamad Sabu, PAS election director Datuk Mustafa Ali and former Kita president Datuk Zaid Ibrahim – signed a declaration calling for Najib’s removal.

Dr Mahathir was appointed as Petronas adviser after he stepped down as the prime minister in 2003.

He remains the chairman of Proton Holdings Bhd, a post to which he was appointed in June 2014.

Source: The Star, 11 March 2016. "Dr Mahathir Terminated As Petronas Advisor"

ASTRO Awani covered the same news but added a little note that Tun Dr. Mahathir had once wanted to resign in 2013, because of poor health. Here is an excerpt:
Dr Mahathir had been appointed as Petronas adviser after he announced his retirement as prime minister in 2003.

In December 2013, Dr Mahathir had stated his intention to resign from the post, citing health reasons.

However, Najib at the time had advised the former UMNO president to stay on.

Source: ASTRO Awani, 11 March 2016, "Tun Mahathir terminated as Petronas adviser"
All this was because Tun Dr. Mahathir teamed up with Opposition members to form a "Save Malaysia" movement, which vowed to change the Prime Minister. There are also Barisan Nasional (ruling coalition) veteran members in that movement.

From the Malay Mail Online:
Dr Mahathir led a delegation of politicians and activists last week to sign a “Citizens’ Declaration” that called for the replacement of Najib as prime minister and a change of his government.

The declaration expressed concern over the controversies surrounding state investment firm 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) and the RM2.6 billion deposited in Najib’s personal accounts.

It also carried over 40 signatures comprising Barisan Nasional (BN) veterans, opposition politicians and civil society leaders.

During the signing, Dr Mahathir told a press conference that a vote of no-confidence against Najib in Parliament was among the methods the group would consider, though he added that this would require the support from the majority, including lawmakers from Umno that is the largest party in the House.

Source: The Malay Mail Online, 11 March 2016. "Putrajaya axes Dr M as Petronas adviser over anti-Najib declaration"
From the Straits Times (Singapore):
Dr Mahathir's group - now known as the "Save Malaysia" movement - comprises opposition figures and civil society leaders as well as Umno rebels including suspended Umno deputy president Muhyiddin Yassin, as well as opposition stalwarts jailed during the former strongman's 22-year rule, such Mr Lim Kit Siang and Mr Mohamed Sabu.

Jailed opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim also expressed support for the alliance despite having been sacked as deputy prime minister by Dr Mahathir in 1998 before he was incarcerated for abuse of power and on a sodomy conviction that was subsequently overturned.

The 45 members inked an agreement last Friday to cooperate in ousting Datuk Seri Najib over allegations of graft involving US$700 million (S$964 million) linked to 1MDB that ended up in his personal accounts.

Source: The Straits Times, 11 March 2016. "Malaysia's Mahathir Mohamad's role as adviser to Petronas terminated."

From Channel NewsAsia:
A total of 58 people had signed a declaration on Mar 4, led by Dr Mahathir, calling for a national movement to remove Mr Najib through legal and non-violent means. They also pledged to take action against those who associated with or covered up for the Prime Minister.

Source: Channel NewsAsia, 11 March 2016. "Malaysia ex-PM Mahathir Mohamad's appointment as Petronas advisor terminated"

The three reports seem to indicate that there is some confusion on the number of people participating in the declaration. Was it 58, as CNA said? Or 45, as ST said? Or 40+, as MMO said?

A few questions come to mind:
  1. Who will be the new advisor for Petronas?
  2. What was Tun Dr Mahathir's contributions to Petronas during his tenure as advisor?
  3. What does Petronas's board of directors have to say about this?
It might be that Tun Dr. Mahathir's advisory role was not valued highly at Petronas. I failed to find mention of Tun Dr. Mahathir's name in the Petronas annual report for 2014, the Petronas annual report for 2013, the Petronas annual report for 2012, and the Petronas annual report for 2011. I couldn't find any link for the 2015 annual report at this page.

When I spoke to some Singaporeans, they said that their country is stable and boring. They find Malaysia interesting because it's a new drama every day.