Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Ku Li : on Petronas governance,

Petronas governance, oil and talent .

JUNE 29,2009 — There are reports of a supposed tussle of wills between the prime minister and the board of Petronas over his choice of a non-executive, independent director for the board. I find the way this discussion is being framed in the press and on the blogs a little puzzling.

To begin with, the question of a tussle of wills, so to speak, between the board of Petronas and the prime minister does not arise. The Articles of Association governing Petronas give the prime minister the absolute power to appoint and remove every single member of the board and management. The prime minister has the right to appoint or remove anyone, from the president and chief executive officer down to the company drivers. In particular, every member of the board is an appointee of the prime minister, and represents him on the board.

Therefore it is puzzling that appeals are being made for the prime minister not to interfere in the composition of the board of Petronas, when it is in fact his duty and sole prerogative to appoint members of the board who will help him in his function of overseeing the running of this wholly state-owned enterprise and seeing to the disposal of the wealth that it generates. Let us not suddenly forget the extent to which previous prime ministers directed the decisions of Petronas in service of their conceptions of the national interest.

Many discussions which raise the issue of corporate governance refer to Petronas as a GLC, and refer to governance practices proper to GLCs. But these GLCs have multiple shareholders and indeed publicly traded stock. Petronas is unlike any other GLC. It has only one shareholder: the state. Almost unique among national oil companies the world over, the entire oil and gas wealth of Malaysia is vested in Petronas. It has supervisory power over the major oil companies operating in our territory. It was not formed to privatise our oil and gas reserves but to safeguard our national sovereignty over them and to manage them more effectively as the common inheritance of all Malaysians. It is charged with ensuring our energy security.

Petronas’ sole owner is ultimately the Malaysian people. The person charged with stewardship of the people’s ownership is the prime minister, and he is accountable to the people through a democratic political process. Every member of the board is appointed by him to help him discharge this stewardship. In that situation if, as reported, any member of the board disagrees on principle with the prime minister’s decision to appoint someone, he should resign. This is the proper way for board members all appointed by a sole shareholder to express strong objection to an appointment.

Those calls being made in the name of good governance for the prime minister “not to interfere” unwittingly advocate bad governance because they are framed on a misunderstanding about the nature of Petronas and therefore about who it is accountable to, and how it should be governed.

Because Petronas is charged with the stewardship of public assets we need to understand the governance of Petronas in terms of a public process; that is to say, the political process. The Petroleum Development Act that I had the privilege to help design did not envisage Petronas becoming a mega-corporation accountable only to privileged insiders. The real framework for understanding governance in Petronas is its accountability to the people of Malaysia through the prime minister of their elected government. This could hardly be otherwise for an organisation vested with such awesome resources and responsibilities.

On scholarships and talent

When we started Petronas we could not find enough local talent. The late Tun Abdul Razak said to me: “Let’s use foreign talent only as consultants. Let’s staff Petronas with Malaysians.” I started the Petronas scholarship programme in my first year as chairman. We set aside 3,000 scholarships a year. In that first year we only managed to give out 1,000. Our intention was to flood Malaysia with returning talent, for whatever industry or sector. The scholars were not bonded, except where they had skills essential to Petronas such as geophysics or petroleum engineering. Understanding our role as custodians of the greatest single source of the people’s wealth, we deliberately pursued a broad rather than narrow scholarship programme to serve the national interest by building its human capital. So we gave out scholarships in fields of study as far from Petronas’ direct interests as architecture and medicine. We did not bond these scholars. I wonder if people understand the spirit of the Petronas scholarships when they are so quick to stigmatise a young person of ability with the title “scholarship defaulter.”

We should try to raise our level of public debate above the gutter of name-calling, racial slurs and the assumption of guilt by association. We should stop looking under our beds for ghosts and shadowy conspiracies. I’m disappointed to find such mean-spirited resentment of talent and of youth precisely when we desperately need those two ingredients in and around government. In our focus on the excesses of certain young people, we may have forgotten the excesses of the old and the decrepit.

I started by talking about the reported tussle between the PM and the board of Petronas. But this is a more real and consequential tussle involving a resource more valuable even than our oil and gas reserves: our people. There is now a generational struggle, in every political party, throughout the civil service, and wherever politics rather than merit governs promotions and appointments, between the young of this demographically very young country and self-interested incumbents blocking their rise with the Catch-22 argument that they are too inexperienced. How else will they gain that experience than by taking up those responsibilities?

We face a generational loss that will destroy our future if we continue to discourage talented and highly educated Malaysians in their thirties and forties from taking up key roles in our society.

Watch video on razaleigh.com

Saturday, June 27, 2009

U.S. set to pay off UN debt

We have terrific news to share! The President signed legislation this week that will enact Congress’ FY 2009 emergency supplemental appropriations bill, which includes enough funds to pay off all debt the U.S. owes the UN going back to 1999.

As you may know, when Ted Turner announced his intention to give a billion dollars to support the UN almost 12 years ago, he did so because the United States was about a billion dollars behind in its payments to the UN.

The UN Foundation and our sister organization, the Better World Campaign, worked to build support for the original Congressional agreement, which in exchange for certain UN reforms, led to the U.S. paying over $800 million in debt to the UN. It was a great accomplishment.

Now, a decade after the first Congressional agreement, it is time to celebrate once again. Our government has recognized that we must keep the U.S. in good financial standing and honor our obligations at the UN. And with passage of the FY09 supplemental spending bill, debt to the UN accumulated since 1999 has been paid.

Indeed, great nations pay their bills, and by fully funding the UN and other international organizations whose work supports U.S. national security, we create greater legitimacy for our foreign policy and economic goals and empower U.S. diplomacy. In this way, we can continue America’s resumption of leadership through multilateral diplomacy.

Thank you for your continued support and interest in a strong U.S.-UN relationship.


Timothy Wirth signature

Timothy E. Wirth
President, United Nations Foundation

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Health care a human right?

22 June 2009 - A single payer rep finally testifies to Congress; insurance industry steps up attack on any public plan

Friday, June 19, 2009

Listening Post - The media role in Iran's election.

19 June 2009 - On Listening Post this week, how the media has been used in Iranian election and the ongoing debate as to whether or not we should pay for online content.

The role the media, both new and old, played in the Iranian Election.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

EU Participatory Democratic Deposit : Turnout

08 June 2009

1979 1981 1984 1987 1989 1994 1995 1996 1999 2004 2007 2009
Belgium BE 91.36
90.73 90.66

91.05 90.81
Denmark DK 47.82
46.17 52.92

50.46 47.89
Germany DE 65.73
62.28 60.02

45.19 43
Ireland IE 63.61
68.28 43.98

50.21 58.58
France FR 60.71
48.8 52.71

46.76 42.76
Italy IT 85.65
81.07 73.6

69.76 71.72
Luxembourg LU 88.91
87.39 88.55

87.27 91.35
Netherlands NL 58.12
47.48 35.69

30.02 39.26
United Kingdom UK 32.35
36.37 36.43

24 38.52
Greece EL
81.48 80.59
80.03 73.18

70.25 63.22
Spain ES

68.52 54.71 59.14

63.05 45.14
Portugal PT

72.42 51.1 35.54

39.93 38.6
Sweden SE

38.84 37.85
Austria AT

67.73 49.4 42.43
Finland FI

57.6 30.14 39.43
Czech Republic CZ

Estonia EE

Cyprus CY

Lithuania LT

Latvia LV

Hungary HU

Malta MT

Poland PL

Slovenia SI

Slovakia SK

Bulgaria BG

29.22 37.49
Romania RO

29.47 27.4
European Union EU total 61.99
58.41 56.67

49.51 45.47

Source: TNS opinion in collaboration with the EP.

EU Election results: towards the new Parliament

Provisional 08 June 2009 at 17:19 CEST
Election results: towards the new Parliament

Election results: towards the new Parliament


  • EPP-ED : Group of the European People's Party (Christian Democrats) and European Democrats
  • PES : Socialist Group in the European Parliament
  • ALDE : Group of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe
  • UEN : Union for Europe of the Nations Group
  • GREENS/ EFA : Group of the Greens / European Free Alliance
  • GUE/ NGL : Confederal Group of the European United Left - Nordic Green Left
  • IND/ DEM : Independence/Democracy Group
  • Others : Others
Without prejudice to the composition of the EP at the inaugural session on 14 July 2009
Source: TNS opinion in collaboration with the EP.

European elections, democratic deficit analysis, right-wing parties:

Video presentation of Audiovisual Unit services and facilities.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Men 'out-performed at university'

Online Medic


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