- Advertisement -

Anwar complicit in Israel's genocide if airport deal goes through, warns Khairy

The former minister says the plan to sell shares to a company owned by US fund manager BlackRock makes neither political nor commercial sense.

4 minute read
Speakers at the 'Tolak BlackRock' forum at the  Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall.
Speakers at the 'Tolak BlackRock' forum at the Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall.

Former minister Khairy Jamaluddin has led mounting opposition against Putrajaya's move to involve a company owned by controversial fund manager BlackRock in a consortium to manage Malaysia's airports, warning the Anwar Ibrahim government that it would be complicit with Israel's genocide in Gaza if it goes ahead with the plan.

Speaking at a forum attended by civil society leaders, activists and politicians, Khairy said there was no need to bring in BlackRock-owned Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP) to improve the quality of Malaysian airports.

"Even if you want to attract investors, there are so many private equity funds other than BlackRock.

"If this deal is not scrapped by the prime minister, it basically means that the government, and the PM, is complicit in the genocide in Gaza today," he said.

Khairy said that the major airports in the region are locally managed.

"In Singapore, Changi is managed by Singaporeans, so too (airports in) Thailand and Indonesia. (This deal) does not even pass the litmus test of necessity," he said at the "Tolak BlackRock" forum in Kuala Lumpur last night.

Speakers at the forum included former foreign minister Saifuddin Abdullah, former Kedah menteri besar Mukhriz Mahathir, Muda vice-president Siti Rahayu Baharin and Nazari Ismail, who heads the Malaysian branch of global anti-Israel boycott movement Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS).

The speakers took turns to condemn the plan, which would see GIP take a 30% stake in a consortium to manage Malaysia Airports Berhard (MAHB), alongside the government's investment arm Khazanah Nasional and the Employees Provident Fund (EPF), both entities under the jurisdiction of the finance ministry led by Anwar.

In addition to BlackRock's well-documented role in strengthening the Israeli economy and its extensive investments in the US arms industry, critics have also pointed out that MAHB made a net profit of RM543.2 million last year, more than in 2019 before the Covid-19 pandemic paralysed the aviation sector worldwide.

Yesterday, former leader Dr Mahathir Mohamad weighed in on the controversy, saying he suspected something fishy about the plan to sell shares of a profit-making company to a foreign firm.

BlackRock has become a target of pro-Palestinian protesters in the US. Among companies it invests in are McDonald's and Starbucks, both of which are the target of a global boycott of Western companies accused of colluding with the Zionist regime.

BlackRock also invests in Lockheed Martin, holding a 7.4% stake in the defence contractor, which is also accused of "complicity in genocide" for its role in arming the Israeli military.

The BlackRock issue has emerged as one of Anwar's greatest challenges since his appointment to the top post,and comes against a backdrop of a perception that he is more friendly with the US and Israel, with critics citing past statements including his interview with the Wall Street Journal in 2012 which quoted him as saying that he would "support all efforts to protect the security of the state of Israel".

Anwar has taken pains to change this perception with speeches and statements criticising Washington's support for Israel, in addition to his attendance at meetings with global Muslim leaders in the wake of Israel's bombing campaign in Gaza last year which has so far killed at least 35,000 Palestinians.

But Khairy said it was time for the prime minister to make "hard decisions" and "put money where the mouth is".

He said he was convinced that the Cabinet had not been consulted on the MAHB deal, although Anwar was not obliged to do so.

"Khazanah matters do not have to be brought before the Cabinet. Decisions are made by the board and passed on to the management of Khazanah.

"I am sure  Umno ministers would never agree if this matter was taken to Cabinet. Maybe they have to agree now because the ship has sailed," Khairy later told reporters.

'Balancing act must be guided by principles'

Earlier, Nazari of BDS Malaysia said Anwar and his advisers should learn more about the boycott movement in the US, where BlackRock is one of the targets.

"Perhaps he is confusing it with Hajarul Aswad," he jibed, referring to the Black Stone, a rock embedded in a corner of the Kaaba in the holy city of Mecca.

Nazari said that the CEO of BlackRock, Larry Fink, openly supports Israel in its war against Gaza.

Saifuddin, meanwhile, rejected claims that Anwar's decision to include GIP in the airport consortium was part of a balancing act between the US and China.

He said that such actions in the past were guided by principles.

"Malaysia is known to have principled foreign policy. It is not just about money or strength, or to balance between the US and China. The plight of the Palestinians is about principle. I am afraid that if we continue with BlackRock, we have forsaken many many years of good work by past governments and thousands of good Malaysians," said the former foreign minister.