Friday, June 27, 2014



Yesterday, Ibrahim Ali of Perkasa said that the Petronas chief executive, Tan Sri Shamsul Azhar Abbas, should resign for saying that the state oil firm belongs to all Malaysians. Ibrahim Ali insisted that Petronas was built via ‘Malay effort’ and therefore belongs to the Malays.

“Shamsul is right to say that Petronas belongs to all Malaysians under the Petroleum Development Act but he must remember that it was overwritten by the New Economic Policy (NEP) and emphasised again by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak last year in the Bumiputera Economic Empowerment Agenda,” said Ibrahim Ibrahim, adding that, “Shamsul should resign for his unprofessional conduct. This is very unbecoming.”

Even a novice politician would know that oil and gas is a national asset and hence the trustee to this national asset, Petronas, belongs to the nation and not to just one race. Such a statement from Ibrahim Ali not only defies logic but it is also unnecessarily provocative and utmost racist in nature.

I can subscribe to Malay nationalism and can quite understand that some Malays would like to uphold their ideals of Malay nationalism. This is what democracy and freedom of choice is all about anyway. However, there is a fine line between nationalism and racism and we must be very careful we do not cross the line from one to the other.

If Ibrahim Ali wants to adopt the stance that Petronas belongs to the Malays then what is there to stop the citizens of Sabah and Sarawak to also claim that Petronas belongs to them or for the Terengganu citizens to claim that Petronas belongs to them? After all, these are the three states that ‘own’ the oil and gas so would this claim not be accurate and justified?

Originally, the oil and gas did belong to Sabah, Sarawak and Terengganu. But then in 1974 it was changed into a national asset through an Act of Parliament with a national petroleum company created to manage this national asset. Hence Petronas, too, would be a national asset.

The status of Petronas was decided by an Act of Parliament. The New Economic Policy or the Bumiputera Economic Empowerment Agenda were not an Act of Parliament. It is merely an aspiration or hasrat and hence not ‘legal’ in the real sense of legality. You cannot arrest and jail someone if that person refuses to abide to the aspiration of the NEP.

Maybe Ibrahim Ali can reconsider his stance regarding this matter and recognise the fact that what belongs to the nation belongs to the nation and the nation does not comprise of only one race.

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