Transparency needed in political appointments, says Petronas’ Rohaizad

Petronas chief integrity officer Rohaizad Yaakob says he has no issues with political appointees in government-linked companies.

KUALA LUMPUR: Petroliam Nasional Berhad’s (Petronas) Rohaizad Yaakob has no issues with political appointees in government-linked companies (GLCs).

Expressing his personal opinion, the oil and gas company’s chief integrity officer however said there must be clear and transparent terms of reference.

“There must also be a proper reporting system. At the same time, you need to supervise all these appointees.

“It is a problem if you have a good system and don’t have the right people.

“Similarly, you will also have a problem if you have the right people but you do not have a good reporting system,” he said at the C4 conference on Conflict of Interest here today.

Also present were political economist Prof Terence Gomez, Election Commission (EC) chairman Azhar Azizan Harun, Deloitte Malaysia’s operational risk adviser Cheryl Khor and C4 executive director Cynthia Gabriel.

In explaining his reasoning, Rohaizad said political appointees are also professional people and are experts in their fields.

“Some are lawyers, some are businessmen. So where is the big problem?

“You must look at the person. Their political standing is secondary.

“If they are professionals, they may be politicians, but they will be working, right? So I believe also that they must be appointed because they are good (at what they do),” he said.

Rohaizad, who was seconded to Petronas from the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC), said one did not put somebody with no knowledge in oil and gas into Petronas.

“They must be somebody good. And I believe those who are appointed have their own credibility,” he said.

On the issue of political donations, Rohaizad said Petronas has stopped doing so since before the 14th general election last year “because we do not want anybody to start thinking we are aligned to any political party”.

“We can still give donations. We have our CSR (corporate social responsibility) programmes.

“For example, in Sabah, we have our own committee with the government. We will ask, what assistance do you need? Let us talk on what you want us to assist.

“We will build a school for you. That is what Petronas does,” he said.

Rohaizad was one of two MACC directors transferred to the Prime Minister’s Department four years ago over the alleged leakage of classified government documents in the agency’s 1MDB probe.

The other was MACC director (special operations) Bahri Mohamad Zin.

It is understood that both were transferred for their “hard-hitting” statements following the police raids and arrest of MACC officers.

On the issue of political interference, Rohaizad said he did not see any political interference in Petronas since the new government took over.

“I was there before the change in government. So, from what I see, there is nothing much there,” he said.

He also noted the company’s professionalism in its work, saying that it has good leaders.

However, Permatang Pauh MP Nurul Izzah Anwar held a differing view. In her speech, earlier today read out by Subang MP Wong Chen, she said Pakatan Harapan (PH) needed to stop the practice of political appointments and hold themselves to a higher standard.

She cited how she had resigned from the appointments to Penang state GLCs, namely Penang Development Corporation (PDC), despite initially accepting it as she wanted to serve Penang.

Nurul Izzah further stated how the “New Malaysia” needed to have a clear separation of powers in ensuring the excesses of the past are not repeated.

“We need to upgrade Parliament to have standing committees to have better oversight of the executive,” she said, adding that she was now working to strengthen the legislative process with the standing committees.