Sabah Umno Youth slams non-Malaysians on Khazanah’s board

Sabah Umno Youth chief Abdul Aziz Julkarnain.

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah Umno Youth today blasted the Pakatan Harapan government’s move to appoint two non-Malaysians to Khazanah Nasional Berhad’s board.

Its chief, Abdul Aziz Julkarnain, questioned the rationale behind the move, saying Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad had contradicted himself through the decision.

Aziz said Mahathir had expressed disappointment that the national sovereign wealth fund had strayed from its core objective of helping the Bumiputera community and wanted Khazanah to return to that objective.

“But now Khazanah, chaired by Mahathir himself, has appointed two foreigners from China to its board.

“Where is the rationale for a national sovereign wealth fund to be helmed by foreigners? How can foreigners understand the aspirations and pulse of the Bumiputeras?”

Khazanah recently announced the appointments of Azian Mohd Aziz, Prof Xiao’ou Tang and Lau Seng Yee as its three new board members.

Azian is head of the advisory division at the Attorney-General’s Chambers and has held various positions in the government.

Xiao’ou, a professor at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, is also the founder of SenseTime, a leading artificial intelligence company focusing on computer vision and deep learning.

Lau is the senior executive vice-president of Chinese e-commerce giant Tencent Holding Company, where he is also the chairman for group marketing and global branding.

Aziz said when the old Khazanah management quit and the new management took over after PH’s victory in the general election last year, it recorded RM2 billion in losses at the stock exchange due to fear and loss of confidence among investors in companies linked to Khazanah.

He said Khazanah went on to lose RM6.27 billion in 2018, something that had never happened before.

Aziz said following Mahathir’s initial retirement on Oct 31, 2003, Khazanah was restructured to enable it to undertake a more active approach in investment activities.

This resulted in its net worth adjusted (NWA) rising to RM33.3 billion in May 2004.

“Khazanah continued to earn profits until it reached its highest portfolio value in history since its inception at RM116 billion during former prime minister Najib Razak’s time.

“Unfortunately, when PH took over on May 9 last year, Khazanah registered losses after losses until its portfolio worth depreciated RM25 billion (21.6%) — the worst so far in the sovereign wealth fund’s history,” he said.

Aziz said the PH government had also failed to prioritise national and Bumiputera-owned strategic and money-making Malaysian companies by allowing foreign acquisition of these companies just to accommodate present monetary needs.

“For example, IHH Healthcare Berhad was sold to Japanese company Mitsui. The country’s telecommunication giant, Axiata, will be sold to Telenor from Norway.

“How can these sales restore the core aim of Khazanah’s establishment, which is to protect the equity interests of Bumiputeras?”