Before Baihaki Hakim showed up, the Indonesian State Oil & Gas Co., or Pertamina, was a plaything of the Suharto family. Not anymore. Since the former U.S. oil exec took over in February, 2000, he has rooted out inefficiency and corruption. He cut costs by $1 billion by changing bidding procedures for imported fuel, changing purchasing procedures for equipment, and by sacking a dozen managers suspected of rigging suppliers' bids. He has begun laying off nearly a third of the company's 24,000 employees.
Next up: staving off a parliamentary attempt to strip Pertamina of its ownership of fossil-fuel resources, and privatizing the company within five years. "In the old days, you had to follow whatever the Suharto family wished," the 59-year-old Javanese says, with the confident Texas twang he acquired as CEO of PT Caltex Indonesia, a Chevron-Texaco joint venture. "Now, we're playing catch-up."
As long as politics doesn't intervene, that is. An investigation that Baihaki initiated last year seemed to turn against him in May, when a government commission that reports to President Abdurrahman Wahid ranked Baihaki Indonesia's second-richest civil servant, with $1.7 million in cash and other assets. Parliament, already seeking to impeach Wahid, called on Baihaki to explain his wealth. Baihaki said it was savings from his salary at Caltex.
"I came here not to make money," Baihaki says. "It's my call of duty." Indonesians like to call Baihaki the Lone Ranger. And by setting out to knock down the political obstacles to turning Pertamina around, he's put himself on a long, lonely road.