Daily Express
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'No bias in the Shell study awards'

Published on: Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Kota Kinabalu: Shell scholarships given out to Sabah applicants are open to all suitably qualified Malaysians regardless of whether one or both parents of the applicant may be Malaysians from other states.

Its Senior Manager for Learning and Development, Mak Met, refuted talk on public misgivings that it does not give priority to children whose parents are West Malaysians even though they hold Permanent Resident status in Sabah or if they are not proficient in English.

He said he was not aware of a case a few years ago where a child with perfect scores in his SPM was denied the chance of a Shell scholarship because both his parents were not Sabah-born but holding PR status.

He said he could not comment on the case without knowing the details but that it was Shell's policy not to sideline anyone found to be deserving.

"There might have been a grey area in the past, if answers given reflecting that, but actually was not what it should have been. We welcome such feedback," he said, during a meet-the-media session, recently.

The parents of the child were apparently told they should have applied through Kuala Lumpur since they were originally from peninsula but were not given a suitable reply when asked why the application was not forwarded to KL if that was the case.

"It's also not true that Shell looks at whether any applicant for a vacancy comes with an excellent command of English," he said, when asked whether applicants who could not speak or write English well would be disadvantaged during Shell's interview process.

The multinational energy company is known to second or reassign staff all over the 70 countries in which it operates its core businesses, where English is the language of choice. "Shell is an equal opportunity employer. We believe in giving a deserving chance to all applicants. To discriminate based on language ability could mean that we would miss out on some great human resource talents.

"I know this because I have been part of the Shell interviewer team. There was even a case where a Chinese educated candidate who wanted to answer better in her vernacular besides Bahasa Malaysia, so we arranged for a Mandarin literate officer to handle the situation.

"She was successful. Now she speaks excellent English as with many others who started without high English proficiency. We believe that language skills can be learned and Shell is an excellent learning organisation with ample opportunities for personal development.

"There is a culture of transparency in Shell. There is another case whereby a niece of a top Shell official applying for a Shell scholarship did not get it much to the surprise of those who thought that nepotism would play a part even in Shell, but no. We are very transparent."

Shell Malaysia boasts of a workforce of some 6,500 employees with a history of more than a century of presence in Malaysia which is celebrating the 50th year anniversary of the federation this year.

Shell has trained skilled world class standard welders from East Malaysia besides many others who have made a name for themselves and country currently working overseas in many countries.

Mak said Shell Malaysia is 90 per cent dominated by talented Malaysians and is looking forward to grow further with the contributions of new scholarship and career applicants well into the 21st century as more oil and gas opportunities are discovered off Sabah and elsewhere.

He said he was surprised to find two Ibans trained by Shell working in Vladivostok in Russia and chanced upon them because they were speaking in Iban.

Currently, there are some 2,600 Shell staff serving in East Malaysia with 1,700 based in Miri, Sarawak. The firm is heeding the Sabah State Government's encouragement to grow its Kota Kinabalu office with Sabah becoming more important as one of Malaysia's oil and gas producers.

Shell is Malaysia's top foreign corporate taxpayer contributing to the development of the country besides its many corporate social programmes.