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Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah

KU LI blame KPI

Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah interview as Petronas Chairman
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The 'go go years' are over and our 'oil lottery' money is fast depleting mainly due to mismanagement by the powers-that-be, decried veteran politician Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah, According to the Petronas founder, the original plans of the oil giant did not include over-producing oil to pay for billions of ringgit worth of unnecessary government projects. "It started with this (defence equipment purchase) agreement with (then British prime minister) Margaret Thatcher, and suddenly the production of oil was doubled from 650,000 barrels per day to over a million barrels a day (to fund the purchase). That was too much for us," he said.

As one of the architects of the Malaysia oil blueprint, the Kelantan royal is now out to set things right, especially for his home state which he believes have the "sovereign right" to be paid royalty for oil found on its shores.

"It's not a complicated issue for as long as oil is found along the shore of Kelantan, whether it's in the joint development area or whether it is off-shore in the exclusive economic zone of the country, Petronas is obliged to pay," he said. Another matter which needs to be address is the arrangement between the states and the centre, which Razaleigh said is outdated and cannot provide the revenue required to meet the development plans of each state. The former finance minister, who met with Malaysiakini last week, was unfazed by the warning from Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin not to accept an opposition invitation to head a parliamentary oil royalty caucus.

Razaleigh said Muhyiddin can "climb to the top of the mountain" to warn him but it would not stop him from doing what is right. " I don't care who warns me. I'm doing this for the country; I'm not beholden to anybody. People can climb to the top of a mountain to warn me. I couldn't care less. I plan to see that the sovereign rights of the people are protected. The following are excerpts of the interview. Content has been edited for brevity.

Malaysiakini: You gave a stinging speech arguing that Malaysia has "squandered" quite a lot of our oil money. What prompted you to give that speech?

Razaleigh: It's because we will get caught flat-footed. What happens if the oil runs out? We have not planned to have substitute revenue in the event that we ran out of oil revenue in the years to come. Some economists have put the amount of money already lost (due to mismanagement of oil revenue) at about RM100 billion... some estimated about RM350 billion, while others put it as RM500 billion. I can't put my finger on the numbers precisely because I don't have access to the accounts. But Dr Mahathir (Mohamad) has said something to the extent that there are some huge sums of money unaccounted for... missing...

Malaysiakini: Was this in reference to the RM270 billion of oil revenue which Mahathir alleges to have been spent during the previous prime minister Abdullah Badawi's term?

Razaleigh: I can't quite remember... but he did come up with the statement querying Petronas, asking, 'where has this money gone to?' The amount I referred to in my speech, (was the amount spent during the) time when (Mahathir) was in control of the company and Petronas. The amount that was utilised for all sorts of expenditure, including defence equipment which was purchased from Britain, for instance, amounted to RM7 billion. This was the defence purchase made with (former British prime minister) Margaret Thatcher at that time after (Mahathir and Thatcher) patched up. This was after Mahathir threatened to 'buy British last'. Forward contracts were being made to satisfy these purchases.

Source: rakyat marhaen


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