Restore Mahathir to Petronas, says Surendran

N surendran

PETALING JAYA: The Cabinet must restore Dr Mahathir Mohamad to his former position as adviser to Petronas, an Opposition MP said today, describing yesterday’s decision to remove him as being unlawful and “an arbitrary exercise of executive power.”

PKR’s N Surendran, MP for Padang Serai, said the prime minister did not have absolute powers over Petronas although the Petroleum Development Act places the national oil company under the prime minister, and empowers him to issue directives as he deems fit.

“However, the power of the prime minister in this regard is not absolute; in a democracy there is no such thing as absolute power or discretion,” Surendran said.

The PM must exercise his powers under the Act consistent with the objectives of the Act, which was the “exploration and exploitation of petroleum” by Petronas.

However, the prime minister’s office had said Mahathir’s appointment was terminated because he was no longer supporting the current government.

Surendran said Mahathir’s lack of support had nothing to do with the objectives or administration of Petronas and was an invalid reason to remove him simply because he had political differences with the PM.

Any exercise of power outside the scope of the Act would be a wrongful exercise of power, said Surendran.

He said arbitrary exercise of power was against the equal protection clause of the Federal Constitution, and would be open to legal challenge.