It's scandalous. DAP MP Lim Guan Eng has claimed that Petronas spent RM3.5mil a month to sustain the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra (MPO) with the conductor paid RM130,000 a month. If that's true, that means the conductor is better paid than the Prime Minister and most chief executive officers in town. According to the Penang Chief Minister, his assistant gets RM30,000. Since its inception 10 years ago, Petronas has forked out RM500mil for the orchestra. This is serious stuff because only 10 per cent of the orchestra members are said to be locals. It is difficult for us to accept the fact that after 10 years, we are still unable to train enough musicians to take these roles. According to Guan Eng, the musicians are getting between RM16,000 and RM28,000 a month. I am not an expert but I think for top class act, these salaries are not that big. But still, we would like to see more Malaysians, not necessarily all Malaysians.
Surely a decade is a long time. Penang born Ooi Chean See is said to have left the MPO because she was unhappy. But that's not all, companies which support the MPO have found out that they cannot even claim tax deductions. Surely, it make sense to have some form of tax incentives to encourage the private sector to back the arts scene. No one will get the full details of the allegations as Petronas does not have to make public its financial status.