Sarawak agrees to non-Muslim Bumiputera for Petros board


State government relents, says it is looking for the 'right candidate' from among Iban, Bidayuh community to be on the board of state-owned oil and gas company.

PETALING JAYA: The Sarawak government has relented to pressure from non-Muslim Bumiputeras by agreeing to appoint someone from their community to the board of Petroleum Sarawak Berhad (Petros).

Deputy Chief Minister Douglas Uggah told the media in Kuching last night that he had been tasked by Sarawak Chief Minister Abang Johari Tun Openg with identifying the right candidate.

However, he did not give any timeline for when such a person would be identified.

“I was told by the CM a few hours ago to do so. He now wants a non-Muslim Bumiputera member on the board of Petros,” Douglas was quoted as saying by the Borneo Post.

He agreed that there was a need to appoint at least one non-Muslim Bumiputera board member, especially after the issue went viral on social media with many Sarawakians disappointed that the large non-Muslim Bumiputera community had been sidelined from any leadership role in the state-owned oil and gas company.

However, Douglas said he believed that it would not be easy to find the right candidate from the non-Muslim Bumiputera community to be part of the Petros board, as many criteria needed to be fulfilled.

“There are a few names being recommended but we must first make sure that the person is really qualified. We nevertheless hope to find the suitable person soon,” he was quoted as saying by the Sarawak-based daily.

On Thursday, the Sarawak CM’s Office announced the appointment of Hamid Bugo as chairman of Petros.

It said the other board members appointed were Mohammad Medan Abdullah, Sharbini Suhaili, Zuraimi Sabki and Heng Hock Cheng.

In response, on Friday, Parti Bansa Dayak Sarawak Baru (PBDSB) questioned the racial makeup of the board of directors in Petros, a wholly state-owned company.

The party said there were many highly-qualified Iban and Bidayuh holding various prominent positions in Sarawak Shell Berhad and Petronas.

“The exclusion of Iban or Bidayuh representatives on the Petros’ board of directors is one of many classic examples of lack of political manoeuvring by our Iban and Bidayuh leaders,” the party said.

“Foreign petroleum organisations have acknowledged the capabilities of the two communities in the industry.”

Abang Johari announced the formation of Petros on Aug 6.

He said then that its board members would comprise Sarawakian professionals within the industry.

He added that there would be no politicians on the board, and that only those with substantial experience in the oil and gas industry would be chosen to serve in it.

Petros is currently searching for a candidate for chief executive officer and other key management positions to enable it to be operational by the first quarter of 2018.

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