Tun Musa should now go

More calls for Sime Darby Group Chairman Tun Musa Hitam and Board of Directors be accountable for the irrecoverable losses incurred by Bakun, Qatar Project and Maersk Oil Qatar which accumulated RM 1.3 billion in losses. More importantly, the call for immediate resignation is also based on the Chairman and BOD’s lame excuse of “Being misled by management”. This call now has been taken into Dewan Rakyat and independent MP for Wangsa Maju Wee Choo Keong made the demand earlier today.

On top of this, Musa irregularly exercised his position as a Chairman of the Sime Darby Bhd. It has been known that Tun Musa ‘enjoyed’ himself lavishly in the position. He has been known to have had Sime Darby chartered private jets for his use on company’s trips against using commercial flights. The urgency for him to arrive and leave the destination that it warrants for expensive hire of business jets since he is not an executive is still baffling. Probably, some people think that he needed to travel in style now that Sime Darby is a RM 30 billion plus turnover MNC conglomerate and the largest plantations MNC in the world.

Maldives President Mohamad Nasheed and Sime Darby Chairman Tun Musa Hitam @ 6th WIEF in Kuala Lumpur

Sometime, these luxuries can be abused. Recently, Musa demanded Sime Darby to charter and pay for the travel bills of Maldives President on business jet to attend the World Islamic Economic Forum (WIEF) held in Kuala Lumpur. President Mohamad Nasheed’s bills came to slightly over RM one million and it is thought that Tun Musa did this because the former is the latter’s personal friend. This is highly irregular since the travel is deemed to be wrongful use of company’s expense and Sime Darby is just a sponsor and not an organiser of WIEF.

Then again, the announcement of Felda CEO Dato’ Mohd. Bakke Salleh as the new Group CEO of Sime Darby is also irregular. Despite that Musa had the BOD’s agreement to appoint Bakke for the top job, the BOD have not interviewed nor met him prior to the announcement. In fact, at the moment Bakke is abroad. It is peculiar for Sime Darby BOD to make the decision without the BOD actually having a moment of the man and trying to understand what he could and would do for Sime Darby.

Bakke’s performance in Felda is something not spectacular. In fact, Bakke did not have experience in managing business tracks such as industrial and motor, which contributes substantial earnings for Sime Darby. It has been said that under Bakke, Felda lost money in the hospitality investment in Mecca and Felda Global Ventures refinery in the US.

Did Musa threw PM Dato’ Seri Mohd. Najib Tun Razak’s name around the BOD to get the explicit approval since Bakke is someone known and comfortable with the PM?

Dato' Azhar, flanked by Tun Musa Hitam and PM Dato' Seri Mohd. Najib Tun Razak

Musa in the same announcement said that five names were considered for the Group CEO position but did not reveal who they are. It is learnt that current acting Group CEO and former Plantations MD Dato’ Azhar Abdul Hamid’s name was not in the list. If Azhar’s name wasn’t on the list, so why did Musa and BOD appointed him to the current acting job a month ago, when they decided to ask controversial Group CEO Dato’ Seri Ahmad Zubir Murshid to take an “Absence of leave” till his contract terms end in November?

So, Azhar was good enough to be acting Group CEO last month but not worthy to be considered amongst the five short listed for the permanent job. In a matter of fact, Azhar’s proposal of having the ‘Troika’ (Group CEO, Group COO and Group CFO) representing the management at the BOD as a solution against the risk of “Management misleading the BOD” again was accepted two weeks before Musa made the announcement which basically said “Azhar wasn’t good enough for the job”. Isn’t that highly irregular?

Of course, some of us believed that personal reasons made Musa did not consider to list Azhar as someone that should be considered for the job, despite that Sime Darby Plantations made more money as compared to Felda, whose CEO was taken in to replace the man who was acting on his behalf. We don’t know what Bakke’s plans are, unlike Azhar who presented his intentions even to PM Najib.

Personal reasons also got Musa to appoint his trusted man since Guthrie days Franki Anthony to jump two steps on the corporate ladder within three short months to now assume Azhar’s job as Plantations MD since the latter was ‘shifted’ upstairs acting the Group CEO’s post upon Zubir’s immediate forced departure. Despite over and over again reiterating that he does not want to play politics, Musa is actually playing politics and getting someone who is willing to butter up to him is typically a politician’s incurable disease.

There is a rumour circulating that some ‘cover up’ is being hatched to save some parties, probably someone in the BOD from the humiliating losses scandals which may or may not is a crime being committed. Musa could in his capacity pushed for someone outside Sime Darby for fear that someone inside could uncover more worms. There is also  a possibility that persons outside Sime Darby is very close to the professionals who were supposed to detect the ‘irregularities’ in projects such as Bakun, QP and MOQ did not highlighted these in their annual reports and perhaps the personal relationship would end up to be a situation of ‘You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours’.

Regardless, Musa should really go. So should some of the BODs, namely those who were from pre-Synergy Drive Sime Darby BOD. Its a matter of accountability. Its a matter of principle. It is a matter of restoring confidence of the stakeholders. Its without doubt the right thing to do, then and now.

*Updated 0330hrs

Published in: on June 22, 2010 at 01:27  Comments (19)