Prime Minister Urges Caution In BlackRock Debate To Safeguard Malaysia’s Interests

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim (center) making dua at the monthly assembly with officials from the Prime Minister's Department at Dewan Sri Endon Puspanitapuri, Putrajaya today. Also seen are Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Fadillah Yusof (left) and Minister in the Prime Minister's Department (Religious Affairs) Datuk Dr Mohd Na'im Mokhtar (right).

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim today cautioned against excessive rhetoric in discussions surrounding the BlackRock controversy, emphasising that any debates linked to issues involving the Israeli regime could jeopardise Malaysia’s standing as a developing nation.

Addressing a gathering at the Prime Minister’s Department for the July session, Anwar, who also serves as Finance Minister, clarified that the long-standing presence of the global investment giant in Malaysia did not “impede” Malaysia’s stance on condemning the Israeli regime’s atrocities against the people of Gaza, Palestine.

“In our history and in comparison with other nations, we (Malaysia) have been among the most outspoken and firm. Let us not demand more than that. As a developing country, we must consider our capabilities; out of greed to appear superior, we should not jeopardise the nation’s interests, that is the general principle,” he remarked.

“..and the injustices of Israel against Palestine are very clear, indisputable. (But) If companies like Microsoft or Google express sympathy towards Israel, should we then close all avenues and cooperation with them?” he questioned.

Previously, data reviews indicated that BlackRock held stakes and investments in publicly listed Malaysian companies valued at RM24.7 billion, and RM7.9 billion in Malaysian government and corporate bonds. Publicly available data also showed that as of May 2024, the global investment firm had investments in equity in 100 listed Malaysian companies spanning various industrial sectors, including three banking institutions in the country.

Anwar noted that in 2018, the then-Prime Minister (Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad) had emphasised the necessity of the firm’s entry into Malaysia during a London visit, while in 2021, the then-Prime Minister (Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin) approved the proposal for the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) to entrust BlackRock with managing a special fund of RM600 million.

Regarding the collaboration between Khazanah Nasional Berhad (Khazanah) and EPF with Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP) concerning interests in Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd (MAHB), the Prime Minister explained that discussions between EPF, Khazanah, and GIP had commenced since 2012.

“This is why Khazanah and EPF negotiated with GIP; our airports have their strengths and weaknesses, particularly in terms of engineering, technical expertise, and management. There are areas that need improvement as we are somewhat behind in planning and various aspects,” he added.

Anwar had previously stated that the sale of shares in MAHB to GIP had undergone stringent conditions, including the company’s agreement to retain the appointment of Malaysian citizens as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of MAHB and maintain majority state ownership of shares.

He mentioned that apart from GIP, other parties did not agree with the terms set by Khazanah and EPF. GIP is a leading infrastructure investor managing assets worth US$112 billion on behalf of approximately 500 investment institutions worldwide.

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