Omar Ong appointed Petronas non-exec director
PETALING JAYA: Omar Mustapha Ong (pic) of Ethos & Co has received his letter from Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak to join Petroliam Nasional Bhd (Petronas) as independent, non-executive director.
It is learnt that he will be attending his first board meeting possibly today.This ends months of speculation and controversial reports over his appointment which has drawn flak from the current board members of Petronas and even former prime minister Tun Mahathir Mohamad.
In the midst of all the contentious reports, Omar’s previous unpaid (which he subsequently paid) Petronas scholarship and non-completion of the number of years of service required, was highlighted.
A news report yesterday said there was some misunderstanding over the matter as Omar had offered to pay in full but his offer had been somehow “overlooked or ignored’’ by Petronas.
Then, there was an issue with his age. At 38, Omar is the co-founder of his seven-year-old management and strategic consulting firm, which many have likened to the Malaysian version of McKinsey & Co.
Omar, an Oxford graduate and Eisenhower fellow, becomes the second independent, non-executive director at Petronas after Abdul Kadir Md Kassim, an advocate and solicitor.Previously, Tun Zaki Azmi – who is the current Chief Justice – was an independent, non-executive director before his appointment as president of the Court of Appeals in December 2007.
The Petronas board has been operating quite independently for some time; however, corporate governance experts reckon the time for change could be near.
The board currently comprises Tan Sri Hassan Marican as acting chairman and CEO; three senior government representatives who are non-independent and non-executive directors; and three vice-presidents who are executive directors.
The new trend in corporate governance is for the appointment of more independent directors while only the CEO and possibly the chief financial officer may be executive directors.
Generally, it would be a third of each category of directors with the number of executive directors in the minority. Boards are also aiming for greater diversity in terms of background, experience and expertise, while looking for ways to refresh and reinvent themselves.
Another trend involves the separation of the post of chairman and CEO, which in the last five years since the demise of the late Tan Sri Azizan Zainul Abidin, has been held by one person.
When Hassan, as vice-president of finance, was appointed to the board, he was 36 and, therefore, younger than Omar. Blogs have lambasted Omar’s appointment, questioning if this was the beginning of the politicisation of the board which once had Zaki, former Umno legal adviser, as director.
The fact that Omar was a former aide to Najib when he was deputy prime minister, has added zing to the conjectures. The fact of the matter is, observers say, Omar appears to have the trust and respect of Najib who has the final say in Petronas board appointments.
Omar is the son of Mustapha Ong, a former private secretary of long-time information minister Tan Sri Mohamed Rahmat. He worked at Petronas, Multimedia Development Corp and McKinsey before co-founding Ethos. – By Yap Leng Kuen
(dipetik dari KedahLanie)
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