Former prime minister Najib Abdul Razak has questioned the government’s apparently contradictory statements regarding sovereign wealth fund Khazanah Nasional Bhd’s investment strategy.
Responding to Economic Affairs Minister Mohamed Azmin Ali statement earlier today that Khazanah was focusing on local investments, Najib pointed to recent instances when Khazanah looked to divest local interests while expanding its foreign investment portfolio.
In particular, he pointed to a Bernama report on July 6 that quoted Khazanah’s deputy managing director Tengku Azmil Zahruddin as saying the fund would expand its exposure in the US through technology firms specialising in data analytics.
“Just a week ago, Khazanah announced they would expand their investments in the US. Since when was the US considered ‘domestic’?
“I heard that UK refers to Ulu Klang (in Selangor). I’ve never heard that USA refers to Gombak,” Najib said in a Facebook post today.
Earlier today, Azmin, who is the Gombak MP, told reporters that Khazanah would be able to focus more on domestic investment after selling its stakes in Saudi Arabian water and power companies to tycoon Syed Mokhtar Al-Bukhary's Malakoff Corp Bhd.
“I believe Khazanah will provide an explanation because they must look at the company's core activities,” said Azmin when asked about Najib’s Facebook post a day earlier.
Najib had in that post lamented the sale the Saudi companies which he said were profitable every year.
In the Bernama report referred by Najib today, however, Tengku Azmil was quoted as saying that Khazanah would not only invest in the US, but also locally and in Southeast Asian countries, China, and India.
“We have investments in companies with expertise in data analytics as we know that in the US, even ordinary companies use data analytics in their daily decision-making.
“So, I expect this would grow and many big companies are already doing it,” he reportedly said, adding that Khazanah was in midst of identifying technologies that could be transferred back to Malaysia.
Meanwhile, Najib pointed out that the IHH Bhd, CIMB Bank and TNB stakes that Khazanah had sold since Pakatan Harapan took power last year were all companies based in Malaysia.
“Are IHH, CIMB, and TNB foreign companies too?” he questioned.