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Second Installment of Dr John Huong's devastating indictment of Royal Dutch Shell

Second Installment of Dr John Huong's devastating indictment of Royal Dutch Shell
Dr. John Huong Yiu Tuong
Miri, Sarawak, East Malaysia
Subject: The Truth behind the Royal Dutch Shell Group Icon
13th June 2004
Now that a torpedo had been fired with the launching of the FEATURE: SHELL WHISTLEBLOWER No 2. Shell Geologist/insider Dr John Huong, fires a broadside at Shell, I will continue to reveal events in my almost 30 year career with Shell, starting with the more recent incidents during the last several years.
Many other workers who are truly sincere and committed in their work are no doubt faced from time to time with the same dilemmas I have experienced; give in to company pressure to keep silent about management misdeeds or be forced to resign – in other words (in the case of Shell), unquestioning loyalty to a ruthless, unethical and oppressive management, or the inner peace which only comes with a clear conscience. I chose the latter path which has been difficult and unpleasant, but good for my soul. A path less travelled!
I have been unable to obtain any redress from this hypocritical Shell management which says one thing yet does another; a bunch of lying and deceitful bunglers, as has been revealed to the whole world by the oil reserves catastrophe which has pulverized Shell’s reputation.
“It sounds preposterous but the facts” reveal the pervasive spread of corrupt practices by this evil multinational. Since Shell operations cover more than 100 countries it must be a matter of great concern that its lack of principles are impacting negatively upon the lives of countless people where they operate. Shell has promoted and therefore encouraged corruption in host governments and government officials. This evil has percolated down through whole societies. We only have to consider the results of a report carried out for Shell in Nigeria which has made news headlines in the last few days e.g.
The Independent: Bribery and corruption put fresh dent in tarnished image of Shell Shell admits blame in Nigeria: “Royal Dutch/Shell has taken responsibility for contributing to the fighting and corruption in oil-rich Nigeria”.
It is very hard for anyone to believe a company with AAA+ rating, endowed with such a high reputation in the past has, due to greed and incompetence, allowed these impossible to value assets to wither away.
Shell’s reputation is now an international disgrace and its credit rating has plummeted to a correspondingly all time low.
Isn’t that an unbelievable departure from what we knew about the Shell Group? Have we switched to a parallel universe? Class action law suits by the bucket full; law suits by customers over tainted gasoline; revelations about Shell’s undercover agents engaging in covert operations against Greenpeace and many other worthy organizations on an international basis; Sir Philip Watts setting up a private force of 1400 police spies in Nigeria; like I said, unbelievable.
Here in my wonderful homeland of Malaysia numerous ex-Shell employees took Shell to court when they were laid off without good reason during the mid 1990s reorganization; hundreds more former Shell employees are taking Shell to the Malaysian Court over the issue of their retirement funds. Mr. Jon Chadwick, the Chairman of Shell Malaysia, has informed staff what he thinks about the outcome of the case. It will be good for Jon to tell us himself what it is all about, especially the closing of the relevant accounts. Fortunately the band of brothers to whom I refer courageously took out a court injunction to prevent such closure. I understand another team of current and former employees are mobilising to launch another related court case over their retirement funds. All of these happenings are also unbelievable – how could a company have sunk so low?
I will at a later date delve into this subject myself because I was told by Shell Human Resource staff that I will receive a third of my retirement proceeds at age 50 but have received no response to my perfectly legitimate request for detailed information about what is due i.e. what precise sum will I actually receive? Due to the uncertainty about my future finances I have had no choice but to explain the situation to my family, thereby adding to their concerns. Isn’t this again unbelievable for a company previously granted the ISO rating for excellence in Human Resource management, to act so badly to employees after winning such a prestigious accolade? My next news posting will contain revelations which will enable readers to judge for themselves the attitude of the ruthless Shell Human Resource personnel who have shown by their hardhearted conduct that their department has no further ambitions for any such awards.
I can tell you that in my latter years with Shell I felt like a fugitive, a liar, although I knew very well that I was telling the truth and acted at all times in accordance with Shell’s avowed ethical principles throughout my working life; this actually made me an outcaste as far as Shell management was concerned.
“When I started with Shell all those years ago I was proud to be an employee of what I considered to be nothing less than the best company in the world; an internationally respected brand and an equally highly respected management.”
After serving, the multi-national Shell faithfully for nearly three decades I have had to start a new working life all over again. I have another request to Shell management; please stop using their advertising slogan where they proudly declare “from the cradle to the grave” – their so-called “care and share” for the employees or “We Care and Share” for the community, when hundreds of ex-employees were really also the uncles and aunts of the handicapped and those in poverty. It is obnoxious to make such claims until Shell management have matched their actions against the slogan.
Unfortunately there are many other examples of Shell’s empty slogans which have been exposed as pure propaganda e.g. “Profits and Principles”. They certainty had that one wrong. It should have been “Profits and No Principles”. And how about the most famous one of all: “You Can Be Sure of Shell”. I doubt that Shell management will be using that slogan again for many years after the flood of negative news headlines in the last several months. The Shell brand name has an entirely different connation these days. It stands for deceit, cover-up, , dishonesty, pollution, corruption, undercover spies, class action law suits, defective gasoline, exploitation of the poorest people on the planet; support of a murderous military regime, etc – arrogance and evil on a breathtaking scale. All brought about by a horrendous MANAGEMENT, including the various individuals named in the US class action law suits alleging fraud and misrepresentation and the those odious individuals still at the helm of Shell, Mr van der Veer and Malcolm Brinded (also named in the class action law suits). Both failed to disclose the true situation to Shell shareholders although they knew about the depleted state of Shell’s reserves since 2002 and possibly before then.
I thought I could have a peaceful and enjoyable retirement with my family after all the years of committed contribution to my work but unfortunately the career was pre-maturely destroyed without good reason by “the company and its officials”, whom the legal Manager has refused and failed to identify. I had mixed emotions yesterday when my beloved son Stephen (18 years old) left for Kuala Lumpur to take an examination and before he left, gave me a gift (a shirt) and wished me a blessed Father’s Day. On the one hand, I still feel embarrassed and humiliated at my early unjustified departure from Shell which has impacted negatively on my family in so many ways. My son knows I am deeply unhappy and that naturally makes him despondent and uncomfortable, particularly at an emotional moment with him leaving on an important trip. Because of Shell Management my long career has ended prematurely and on a sad note at a time when he is looking forward to his future. On the other hand, I feel immensely proud of Stephen and grateful for his kind and thoughtful support. Thank you, my son!
Below is an earlier mail/letter I sent hoping that the top Shell management would intervene and make restitutions to restore Shell’s reputation, instead of continuing with its reprisals.
Here goes the story; “The truth behind the Royal Dutch Shell Group Icon.”
Dr. John Huong Yiu Tuong
Miri, Sarawak, East Malaysia
22nd April 2004
Jeroen Van der Veer [email protected]
Malcolm Brinded [email protected]
Rosli Lompoh [email protected]
Hee Len Hi [email protected]
Jon Chadwick [email protected]
Dominique Gardy [email protected]
Jakob Stausholm [email protected]
Richard Wiseman [email protected]
Lim Haw Kuang [email protected]
SUBJECT: The Truth behind the Royal Dutch Shell Group Icon
I have written to you but you haven’t responded. Malcolm, I have earlier forwarded my previous email (5th April ’04) and now I am including Lim Haw Kuang in this list so as to keep him informed. This is a story with a miserable ending as to what could have been a beautiful lifetime story of a remarkable career in Shell Malaysia Exploration and Production which is under the flagship of a prestigious Royal Dutch Shell Group.
Jeroen, I am deeply encouraged and surprised by what you published below
¦ Publication of Group Audit Committee and Reserve Recategorisation reports
Q. The executive summary of the Group Audit Committee’s report and the reserves recategorisation announcement, points to systemic failure within Shell so what action are you [Jeroen] going to take?
A. We have taken three sets of different actions. The first set is all about reserves, how you count it, compliance, how you audit that, how we do that both with our own personnel and what happens with outsiders. So that’s all about reserves. The second set is how Finance reports in the Group and we have already made some changes there. And the third one is, this is all about behaviour. Now, let me explain that. We feel that we are a very professional Group but we have to make sure that all those professionals have, in our worldwide organisation, the most appropriate behaviour for the future. So, for instance, make sure that if there is bad news, it doesn’t stay somewhere in the ranks but that it makes its way to the top so that we can handle it.
19 April 2004
Jeroen and/or Malcolm, take note that the Shell Management in an Operating Company had not taken the proper steps to institute discipline at workplace under their command. As a result my career of nearly 30 years was crippled and subsequently destroyed while I was protecting the share-holder's and other stake-holder's interests. I am dying to tell you and the world all about it to clear the humiliation and shame you did to me and members from my extended family worldwide.
I was told during the reconciliation at the Labor office (29th August 2003) by Siva, a Shell representative (and witnessed by a Shell lawyer and another staff) that there was a “conspiracy” in my case:
Siva, the SSB (Sarawak Shell Berhad) representative for the reconciliation when asked by Puan Nur Huda (Labour Officer) said
? That he did not wish to reinstate me nor
? Did he wanted to make any payment as agreed by both parties
I gave my side of the story why I should not be “terminated” and/or constructively dismissed
At the end of the meeting, Siva said
Siva: I do not agree with what Dr. Huong have said – that there was a conspiracy!
John: I beg your pardon Siva; for within these hours of reconciliation Puan Nur, I have never use the word “conspiracy”
Siva: He murmur something to himself and when he continued, he said “From all that you have said”.
John: Thank you very much Siva for the facts I presented surrounding my case, you have come to a conclusion that there was a conspiracy and for indeed there was a conspiracy then. Thank you very much.
Added footnotes for clarity: Present at the meeting, the Shell team consists of SIVA is abbreviated name for Mr. Sivapragasan Mailvaganam the Manager for Employee Services and the Lawyer was Mr. Thavakumar Kandiahpillai, the Legal Manager and Mohidin Sulaiman, an executive for industrial relations who reports Mr. Rosli Lompoh, the acting Head for Human Resource and Capability management for Sarawak Shell Berhad.
Please confirm with Jon Chadwick if the conspiracy saga is true and while you are talking with him you might want to ask what he is currently doing with regards to the ongoing court case and the injunction appeal to prevent the closure of the accounts involving hundreds of Malaysian ex-Shell employees. May be you are not in the picture and would like him to give you a full account! If he does not want to provide you with the information and/or the information is hard to obtain, please ask me and I will give you the ACCURATE bad news for your decision making.
I have asked in my previous letter (5th April 2004) to you asking:
“May I know who are the Executive director and the Executive Chairman for Exploration and Production business in Malaysia”
Following that letter, and not long afterwards, I was directed to an article in “The Star” online, (16 April 2004) which says:
“Shell Malaysia appoints new managing director” where Mr. Raja Ahmad Murad Raja Bahrin was named as the Managing Director for Shell Refining company (FOM) Bhd
However, the Shell Refining Company Bhd. (3926-U) is under the Oil Products Division of SMEP. Is the caption in the above taken to mean that Mr Raja Ahmad Murad Raja Bahrin is also the managing Director for the Shell Malaysia overall, including the exploration and production arm?
I want to clarify that I was employed by the first of these six companies namely,
1) Sarawak Shell Berhad (71978-W)
2) Sabah Shell Petroleum Co. Ltd (993229-W)
3) Shell Sabah Selatan Sdn. Bhd. (228504-T)
4) Shell Petroleum (Malaysia Limited (993418-M)
5) Shell Oil and Gas (Malaysia) LLC (993830-X)
6) Shell Exploration and Production Malaysia, B.V. (993963-V)
These companies are collectively located under the umbrella of Shell Malaysia Exploration and Production (SMEP). Who are the Executive Managing Directors for all these companies? Is Jon Chadwick the Executive Chairman or Non Executive Chairman for SMEP? Is he also wearing the hat for Sarawak Shell Berhad as the Executive Managing Director?
In consonant and in confidence with Jereon, I would also like to acknowledge and thank you Malcolm Brinded for your confirmation that the “Statement of General Business Principles” is still highly well regarded and is applicable to the “Triple Bottom Line” (Financial, Environment, Social/ethics) while promoting sustainable development in “Profits and Principles”:
¦ The Independent: How a sure thing became a City liability
By Katherine Griffiths, Banking Correspondent.
Mr Brinded, who has taken over the hot seat (from Van de Vijver) of trying to run Shell since Sir Philip stepped down, maintained that “honesty, integrity and respect for people” remained a “beacon” by which Shell did business. If so, that leaves many questions unanswered as to why the individuals who were involved in exploration and production erred so dramatically.
20 April 2004 –
The Operating Companies (OPCOs) where I worked was very well known for many years (since mid 1990s) as the model company for the Shell Group and I do not know if that is still true. It is interesting and will be most revealing as to how the various techniques employed have brought about peaked performance. Why was SMEP so successful in meeting all the critical success factors asked for in the scorecards and would you in the present Committee of Managing Directors like to know more about it? Do share my story with Lord Oxburgh and Mr.Aad Jacobs because it will probably help them to understand better the facts and fictions found in the missing chapters, if any, which may not be captured in the 450 pages of “Davis Polk and Wardwell Report”. Please help me to extend this email to them because I do not have their addresses.
It is very interesting to see how crucial information concerning the well being of business owners in Shell could not be communicated to the very top management albeit the many CONTROL instruments made available in the Shell arsenals. Were the control instruments designed for use to effectively filter the ACCURATE & PROFOUND bad news stemming from workplace thereby helping the company to project a reputable image? People surveys were done and the score was excellent overall. However as I walked along the corridors I heard generous amount of mourning and groaning. As in my case, I have observed that the Management hides behind the Decision-Making by Consensus concept that is tactically devised to “solve” any problems. This process invokes divide-blame-divert-smudge-excuse and promises to deliver from lessons learnt – a very costly exercise!
Jeroen, how would you personally feel if after you have faithfully served Shell for all of your working life, you have to go through the above nightmare? In my case I have informed Sir Philip Watts in mid 2003 my predicaments but he was stone silence on the issue and the matter had since escalated and moved to the Malaysian Ministry of Human Resources. What are you going to do now that you are the captain of the Shell Ship? By the way, was Sir Phil Watts using the same watery maneuver to resolve the current fiasco on hydrocarbon reserves downgrades when asked by the investors?
The article below suggests that whistle blowers come from high places and includes a Senior Shell manager who confessed that he was tired of lying. They have given their versions of the stories on what they know factually about the criminal activities going on within the Shell organization. The same article is challenging another would be whistle blower from middle management who knew, and have not feared to lose his job. That editorial by Mr. Reece was very prophetic indeed and I can confirm whole heartily that there was indeed an axed Malaysian Shell employee who did not conform to Shell management norms and values in producing lies, deceit, cover-up, and the list goes on. That person…. me of course! At least I can stand before God with a clear conscience that I have been a good steward to my shareholders who are owners of the Shell business. How do you like my story, gentlemen? It is very hard to accept this factual story because the liars have now become so naked and exposed to the very depth of their being; isn’t it? That was in 1996 when I highlighted the poor homework done to a multi-billion dollars project. I think the time has come to recommend a full technical and commercial investigation into the integrity of how that project was mooted.
Do blame Mr. Damian Reece for teasing me, a middle management staff to tell you about my hardship while at Shell since the 1997 episode in exploring and producing hydrocarbon and the subsequent ordeal. Here it is:
¦ The Independent: Revealed: the bitter power battle that put Shell in the firing line
By Damian Reece, City Editor
The question remains why there was not another whistle blower. The answer is that those in middle-management who knew, feared they would lose their jobs if they spoke out.
20 April 2004
I have not lost my bearings amidst all the inhumane treatment and I have got help from my extended family to humble the Shell Management who not only have treated me badly and in the same token have hurt members of my extended family all over the world. Now that the bad news which are accurate have reached you to the very top; when will you Jeroen and/or Malcolm respond to my letter telling me what you are going to do to help me? What, how and when are you going to take away my humiliation, pain, sufferings and the nightmares that your managers who professed to be leaders have done and have kept so quietly and secretively from the investing community. I look forward to seeing the fruition of your positive promises presented.
Malcolm, I understand that you are coming to Miri, Malaysia soon. If you think you are ready to begin at restoring the good name of Royal Dutch Shell and to preserve the Shell icon in a caring way then I would be willing to meet you and discuss a way through this impasse.
John Huong
Dr. John Huong Yiu Tuong
20040422Dic revised on 26th April 2004 for a typo-error
End of Mail/Letter
It is very telling on the 10th June 2004 international news pertaining to assessment given to Shell by Calpers or the never-ending horror stories (and the fallout as a result of Shell operating in Nigeria, as already mentioned).
“POWERFUL US investor Calpers – the California Public Employees' Retirement System
– has put the Shell oil group on its hit list of companies with
poor governance
– a humiliation for the giant which used to pride itself on its
high standards.”
A compendium of ills about Shell on the 10th June by various news reporters!
o “a series of poor practices and calls on independent directors to put them right.”
o “Shell are underperformance, flawed accounting and 'apparent inadequacy of controls'.”
o “Its managers have power through 'priority shares' to reject shareholders' ..”
o “keeps outsiders out of top jobs”
o “Anglo-Dutch oil group … need to boost performance.”
o “facing wider questions about boardroom structure and share performance.”
o “struggling to restore investor confidence after four downgrades of its reserves”
o “ousting of chairman Sir Philip Watts and exploration director Walter van de Vijver.”
o “Shell executives failed to satisfy the influential investor at a recent meeting in New York”
o “look at the role of the chief executive and management succession.”
o “Shell's shares had lagged behind their peers for five years”
o “the board had failed to respond effectively to shareholder demands.”
o “disclosures (of reserves) forced it to delay publication of its annual report”
o “Corporate governance reforms are needed for these companies (Shell included)”
o “to restore long-term profitability and investor confidence,”
o “If we (Shell) have not implemented changes, we are in the process of implementing them.”- ????
o “calling for Shell to appoint a committee of independent directors”
o “ to undertake a rigorous re-examination of the group's management,”
o “ to undertake a rigorous re-examination of its succession planning,”
o “ to undertake a rigorous re-examination of nomination of independent directors,”
o “ to undertake a rigorous re-examination of composition of its board,”
o “(Shell) may have to quit onshore production in Nigeria”
o “ 93-page survey also said Shell itself “feeds'' the violence”
o “ past two chairmen, Philip Watts, 58, and Mark Moody-Stuart, 63, worked in Nigeria”
o “(Shell) has inadvertently fed corruption, poverty and conflict in Nigeria through its oil activities”
o “etc, etc…”
For now, what do YOU think about Shell Managers, their attitudes towards their host governments, their behaviour to employees and fellow citizens? Should the world imitate Shell cultures and embrace their value systems ultimately making it a norm for the world at large under the pretext of globalization?
Should we let the worst excesses in human nature run rampant, a lust for greed and power, as has happened at the top of Shell?
Dear readers, please bear with me because the journey of discovery about Shell is long, muddy and murky. After the events I witnessed during my latter years at Shell I feel ashamed that I did not speak out earlier about the unethical unforgivable conduct of Shell management.
I have posted my first article on Shell Home page under the “Tell Shell” feature and I would like Shell to honour the integrity of truthful feedback by not removing the materials and/or content from the site. Otherwise why bother to “Tell Shell” if Shell only wants to feature positive contributions – probably an extremely rare posting these days! To be fair to readers I will post what is true and when I need clarification and feedback, I will use the instrument of “Tell Shell” in the forlorn hope that Shell management will respond like gentlemen and in all sincerity to mend their ways.
A message to Shell management: please do not keep treating us all as fools by expecting us to believe your platitudes and your promises to restore Shell’s reputation when you continue to display all of the same attitudes which have caused the current indelible stain on a once great brand. You have no credibility left. It is deeds not words which are needed. You have had your opportunity and failed miserably. I repeat that it is time for a fresh start with completely new management.
Readers, please feel free to contact me direct at: [email protected]
I would especially love to hear from former and current Shell employees, so please contact me.
Dr. John Huong Yiu Tuong
13th June 2004.

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