FDI or assets sale? MPs spar over Mitsui’s purchase of IHH stake

International Trade and Industry Minister Darell Leiking says he will provide more details in a written reply.

KUALA LUMPUR: Japan-based Mitsui’s RM8.4 billion purchase of a 16% stake held by Khazanah Nasional Berhad in IHH Healthcare Bhd is not part of the foreign direct investments recorded in the first quarter of this year, the Dewan Rakyat was told today.

International Trade and Industry Minister Darell Leiking (Warisan-Penampang), however, said he would be able to give more details at a later time, as the matter had been addressed by Tony Pua (PH-Damansara), the political secretary of Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng.

Leiking was responding to Opposition Leader Ismail Sabri Yaakob on whether the RM8.4 billion deal was part of the investments received from Japan.

“This question has been answered by the secretary to the finance minister and I understand that he has explained that this investment has been included in our data, and for more details, I will provide this in a written reply,” said Leiking.

Ismail then pointed out that Pua had no authority to answer in the Dewan Rakyat.

Other opposition MPs including Ahmad Maslan (BN-Pontian) and Reezal Merican Naina Merican (BN-Kepala Batas) then said the sale was not an investment but a sale of a national asset.

Reezal said it would be “strange” if it was considered an investment.

Leiking said: “You must remember the investments here are those which have been approved. Data approval does not include IHH, it is not included in this particular answer because it is not approved.”

Leiking had earlier said that approved investments for the first quarter of 2019 stood at RM53.9 billion, with approved FDI accounting for RM29.3 billion or 54.4% of approved investments.

Previously, Pua had defended Lim, who reportedly cited the share purchase as an example of foreign direct investment.

Pua said the interpretation of the term “foreign direct investment” had not changed and was described in a manual of the International Monetary Fund.

“Hence, Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng is correct to state that the country achieved the historical high realised FDI in a quarter in the first quarter of 2019,” said Pua.

Lim had previously said Malaysia received the RM21.7 billion in the first quarter of this year, which he claimed was the highest realised FDI in Malaysia’s history.

Of the total, RM8.4 billion was from Japan, RM3.7 billion from Austria, and RM2.8 billion from Hong Kong.

But former prime minister Najib Razak said he had checked a Bank Negara report which showed that the RM8.4 billion investment from Japan was, in fact, the proceeds from the sale of Khazanah’s stake in IHH to Mitsui.