PKR president Anwar Ibrahim has questioned if there was government interference in the recent departure of Wan Zulkiflee Wan Ariffin (above) from Petronas.
Despite a contract lasting until April 2021, the national oil and gas company’s president and CEO has been named the new chairperson of Malaysia Airlines Berhad (MAS) effective July 1.
In a statement today, Anwar demanded that Petronas explain the move.
“As an enterprise responsible for the management of the nation’s energy, the people are wondering about the real meaning behind the resignation and this must be promptly explained and detailed by Petronas.
“Was there interference by the government?” he asked.
The Port Dickson MP cited Standard and Poor’s latest move to downgrade Petronas from a stable rating to negative as it did for Malaysia as a whole.
According to The Edge, the global rating agency noted that the firm was sensitive to “potentially negative government intervention” should Malaysia face financial difficulties.
Anwar cautioned that complications at the state-owned firm - the country’s only Fortune 500 company and a significant contributor to the gross domestic product - could have a significant impact on the domestic economy.
“The recent instability in Petronas has negatively impacted the national economy and affected sentiment among international investors.
“The opposition demands swift clarification on this matter.
“Petronas’ failure to resolve these questions will lead to investor distrust that will exacerbate the current situation,” he said.
Reuters previously speculated that Wan Zulkiflee had resigned as he disagreed with Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin over a plan to pay RM2 billion in sales tax to Sarawak.
Petronas later refuted the report.
On June 6, Muhyiddin thanked Wan Zulkiflee for his 37-year career at Petronas and said he was being moved to MAS to help restructure the struggling national carrier.
Petronas’ former chief financial officer Tengku Muhammad Taufik Tengku Aziz will serve as its new president and CEO.