Former Malaysia PM Mahathir's removal from role as Petronas adviser a loss of face, perks: The Star

Former Malaysian prime minister Mahathir Mohamad during an interview at his office in Kuala Lumpur on Oct 18, 2013.
Former Malaysian prime minister Mahathir Mohamad during an interview at his office in Kuala Lumpur on Oct 18, 2013.PHOTO: REUTERS

PETALING JAYA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Former Malaysian prime minister Mahathir Mohamad's removal as Petronas adviser may not hurt him too much financially - after all, he had wanted to step down before - but it could deprive him of many perks and leave him embarrassed.

The adviser received an allowance of between RM12,000 and RM16,000 (S$4,047 and S$5,400)a month, which would probably be small change for a man of Tun Mahathir's stature.

However, he also has a secretary and support staff who help with his duties at his futuristic office on the 86th floor.

In fact, one could say he was holding the highest office in town, right at top of the Petronas Twin Towers, with doors that looked like something out of a Star Wars movie.

Even the Petronas board meetings are held on 85th floor.

The office of Petronas adviser is a prestigious post reserved only for a former prime minister. Dr Mahathir was appointed in 2003.

Malaysia's third prime minister, Tun Hussein Onn, was the adviser before Dr Mahathir.

There has been speculation that Dr Mahathir was also allowed to use the Petronas jet when he requested for it during the period when Tan Sri Hassan Merican was chief executive in the early 90s.

This apparently stopped when Tan Sri Shamsul Azhar Abbas was made chief executive/president.

There is speculation that Dr Mahathir's successor, Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, may now be appointed as adviser in his place.

That would be a slap in the face of the outgoing adviser as he had been instrumental in removing Mr Abdullah as prime minister, too.

Meanwhile, former Kedah mentri besar Mukhriz Mahathir said the sacking was aimed at humiliating his father.

Datuk Seri Mukhriz said his father had actually tendered his resignation letter in 2013, but the government had then rejected it.

"Now PMO (the Prime Minister's Office) wants to humiliate him by firing him," he said.