Sunday, September 19

Unfair treatment by Petronas the cause for discontent — Abdul Karim

Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah

Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah

KUCHING: Assistant Minister of Housing Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah believes that all the outpouring of discontent towards Petronas by Sarawakians is the culmination of many years of feeling being treated as ‘anak tiri’ (stepchild) and second class.

Therefore, Abdul Karim, who is also Assistant Minister of Youth and Sports, hoped that Petronas would do the needful to address the problem and feeling of discontent expressed by Sarawakians.

“We expect positive action from Petronas in reviewing their employment policy, contracts for Sarawakian companies, sincere effort to establish downstream industries in the state where resources are extracted, scholarships to Sarawakians and perform more corporate social responsibility programmes in Sarawak,” he told The Borneo Post when contacted yesterday.

The issue of Petronas’ preference for Peninsular Malaysians over Sarawakians for jobs in the state itself was recently highlighted in the media.

In response, Petronas on Tuesday issued a statement, asserting its stand on hiring practices and that the decision to impose moratorium was based on “the wrong perception that its recent group-wide business restructuring had unfairly impacted its employees from Sarawak”.

Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg, when asked to comment on Petronas’ statement on Tuesday, said the state government was still waiting for the details because the statement was Petronas’ response to the perception that it was not doing enough for Sarawakians.

“There must be reason for them (Petronas) to do so. So we are waiting for details before the government decides on how to proceed from there,” he said after a special briefing on the performance and future direction of Kuching North City Commission (DBKU) held at Grand Margherita Hotel here yesterday.

Meanwhile, DAP Sarawak chairman Chong Chieng Jen called on Petronas to stop giving excuses to defend its unfair employment policy in short-changing Sarawakians in its operations in Sarawak, and to take immediate steps to rectify the lop-sided employee composition in its operations in the state.

“In Petronas’ press statement issued yesterday (Tuesday), Petronas claimed that: ‘Key to the successful delivery and operations of Petronas’ projects in the state is the support and commitment from all relevant parties, most important of whom are Petronas teams of qualified, trained and dedicated employees – no matter where they are from.’

“Is Petronas saying that Sarawak has no qualified, trained and dedicated employees to fill up the top and middle executive level positions in Petronas’ Sarawak operation? This is surely untrue and an insult to Sarawakians.”

In fact, said Chong, who is Bandar Kuching MP, there are more than enough qualified, trained and dedicated Sarawakians to take up the top and middle management level positions in Petronas’ Sarawak operation but were not given the opportunities.

“The issue of giving more job opportunities to Sarawakians has been agreed to between Petronas and Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Adenan Satem since November, 2014. It was also so reported by Adenan in the November 2014 Sarawak DUN sitting.

“However, more than 20 months have passed, yet only 39 per cent of the management positions and 46 per cent of the middle management positions are filled by Sarawakians in Petronas’ operation in Sarawak.

“Such statistics surely do not reveal any effort on the part of Petronas to give more job opportunities to Sarawakians, unless Petronas is only referring to lower rung positions.”

Chong, who is also Kota Sentosa assemblyman, said the Petronas press statement also seemed to make it clear that it would defend such composition at its management and middle management positions in Sarawak.

“The question, therefore, is: In this standoff, whether the State Government is going to give in to Petronas and the power that be in Putrajaya.”

Furthermore, Chong said the state government should not be merely imposing a freeze on the new work permits application for Petronas employees in Sarawak but commence the revocation of the existing work permits of Petronas’ top and middle management in its Sarawak operation towards the target of 70 per cent Sarawakians in both the top and middle management levels of Petronas’ operation in Sarawak.

“This is a test of the Sarawak State Government’s priorities, ie whether Sarawakians’ interest comes first, or the wishes of Putrajaya and Petronas come first.”