Fri, 14 Jan 2000

Gus Dur wants new president for Pertamina

JAKARTA (JP): President Abdurrahman Wahid wants to replace the president of state oil and gas company Pertamina, Martiono Hadianto, and is calling on his ministers to select the best candidate to become the new leader of the largest and most strategic state company.

"I ask the board of commissioners to find a new president and new directors for Pertamina," Abdurrahman said on Thursday at the Bina Graha presidential office during the ceremony to install new commissioners at Pertamina.

Abdurrahman, popularly known as Gus Dur, said the new president of Pertamina had to meet three requirements; he or she should be honest, able to implement transparent management and be capable to compete globally.

"Pertamina's president should have a clear concept and strategy in facing the international cartels who are looking for maximum profits," Gus Dur said.

The new members of Pertamina's board of commissioners include president commissioner Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, vice chief commissioner Minister of Finance Bambang Sudibyo, and commissioners Coordinating Minister for Economy, Finance and Industry Kwik Kian Gie, Minister of Law and Legislation Yusril Ihza Mahendra and head of the National Development Planning Board (Bappenas) Djunaedi Hadisumarto.

In the past, the board included the minister/state secretary, but excluded the minister in charge of legal affairs.

After the ceremony, Bambang told reporters no names had so far been proposed for Pertamina's top job.

Thus, the board would select from all potential candidates, including the names already mentioned on the rumor mill, Bambang said.

Martiono, who was present at the ceremony, refused to comment on Gus Dur's plan to remove him.

He noted, however, that whoever is the leader of Pertamina, he or she should prepare the state company for the free market in the region to be implemented by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in 2003.

Several names have been tipped for Pertamina's top job, including legislator Arifin Panigoro, who is also chairman of the largest national private oil and gas company Medco Energy Corp. and legislator Hatta Radjasa, who is also the owner of oil drilling company Bormindo.

Arifin is a member of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-Perjuangan), while Hatta is member of the National Mandate Party (PAN).

Other names are president of state tin mining company PT Timah Erry Riyana Hardjapamekas, former president of American oil and gas company PT Caltex Pacific Indonesia Baihaki Hakim and president of gas distribution company PT Perusahaan Gas Negara (PGN) A. Qoyum Tjandranegara.

Rennier A. Latief, the president of the country's second largest national oil and gas company, Kondur Petroleum, and an anonymous Pertamina senior official told The Jakarta Post the government should give Martiono a chance to continue leading Pertamina in anticipation of the free market era.

Both of them, however, supported Gus Dur's intention to replace all the directors of the state company, whose performance, they said, had been poor.

Rennier said Pertamina should retain Martiono because he had learned much about Pertamina's business for more than one year and had, thus far, successfully reformed the company in several aspects.

He said a new leader of Pertamina had to spend between one and two years learning about Pertamina's business before he or she could take full command of the company. This would make Pertamina less prepared for the competition in the free market era.

"In terms of capability, Martiono is still better than the other names mentioned by the public," Rennier said.

He also warned the government not to allow certain political parties to control Pertamina.

He said the public would not accept people like Arifin and Hatta leading Pertamina in fear that Pertamina would fall under the control of certain political parties.

"What has caused rampant corruption in Pertamina is the excessive interference of the government in the company. What Pertamina needs to become a world-class company is a business environment that is free from interference, a clear policy from the government and a clear punishment-and-reward system," he said. (jsk/prb)