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Umno trio turn target of PH cytros for criticising Anwar over BlackRock

Social media accounts under various names take turns condemning the Umno leaders for their reservations about the deal involving the controversial US firm.

3 minute read
Nazifuddin Najib, Mohamad Hasan and Dr Akmal Saleh have come under attack from PH supporters for criticising the deal involving BlackRock-owned GIP.
Nazifuddin Najib, Mohamad Hasan and Dr Akmal Saleh have come under attack from PH supporters for criticising the deal involving BlackRock-owned GIP.

At least three Umno leaders have come under attack from Pakatan Harapan (PH) supporters for not backing Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim's decision to bring a company owned by controversial US fund manager BlackRock into a consortium to manage airports in the country.

Umno deputy president Mohamad Hasan, youth chief Akmal Saleh and youth exco member Nazifuddin Najib became the subject of name-calling by PH cybertroopers on social media after stating their objections to the deal announced last month, which will see Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd (MAHB) getting a major foreign partner for the first time.

The plan will see BlackRock's Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP) taking a 30% stake in a consortium to manage 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.

It sparked protests due to BlackRock's well-documented role in strengthening the Israeli economy and its extensive investments in the US arms industry, with claims that it is complicit in Israel's genocidal campaign in Gaza that has so far killed at least 35,000 civilians.

Attacks against critics of the plan were launched through social media as well as various news outlets, as pro-government social media users fought an avalanche of condemnation of Anwar amid calls for him to scrap the shares deal.

Government supporters have also been repeating the narrative by Anwar that BlackRock has long been present in Malaysia's capital market.

The main targets of their attacks include former Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin, who last week warned Anwar of complicity in Israel's genocide if he failed to scrap the shares deal with GIP.

Criticism of the plan by Akmal was soon followed by statements from Mohamad and Nazifuddin, both slamming the inclusion of GIP.

On Sunday, Mohamad, who is also the foreign minister, confirmed Khairy's claim that the plan to sell MAHB's stakes to GIP was not a collective decision by the Cabinet.

"We ministers from Umno gave the opinion that if possible, the plan should not be continued, but the transaction is already at a very advanced stage," Mohamad was quoted as saying by Utusan Malaysia.

Yesterday, Nazifuddin, who is the son of jailed former prime minister Najib Razak, also launched a scathing attack against the government, calling the shares deal "nauseating" and "hypocritical".

"Allowing or approving the ownership of MAHB shares by BlackRock is like opening the front doors of our homes to enemies," he said, accusing the government of flip-flopping in its stand on Palestine," said Nazifuddin.

This was followed by a series of attacks from PH supporters on X.

"Greetings Mohd Nazifuddin Najib. Nauseating your father's head!" said YBudi.

"Talk so much but don't pay taxes your family of pu****k bang**t," said Joe Labu, who launched a tirade of curses against the former prime minister's family.

"How is it flip flop, Nazif? When did BlackRock enter Malaysia? As if you're so good defending Palestine," said Md Fairus Muhamad.

Another user believed to be a PH cybertrooper, LanGagak, wrote: "No need to keep people like Tok Mat (Mohamad). No unity principles. Stubborn and thinks only he's right."

Still another posted a sarcastic tweet comparing Mohamad's statement with his party boss Ahmad Zahid Hamidi's support for the deal involving GIP.

"Tok Mat doesn't think before opening his mouth. He has no DNAA. He doesn't care about his friend when he speaks!" said Faddy, referring to the discharge not amounting to acquittal that halted Zahid's trial for 47 criminal charges last year.

Razali Setapa meanwhile said Akmal had not researched the benefits of bringing in the BlackRock firm.

"We are talking about the nation's interests, not just cheap politics," he said.

Mohd Rajit Hj Sujak referred to Akmal's medical profession, and repeated a familiar narrative against those who joined the boycott of Western products.

"The medicines in Akmal's clinic also have BlackRock shares. Does Akmal use an iPhone? That too has BlackRock shares."

X user PKS meanwhile cited the "penyakau" (thieves) label frequently used by Anwar on opposition leaders, saying: "Those who oppose are all part of the 'penyakau' gang, they fear they couldn't direct the funds to cronies."

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 claims that he is more friendly with the US and Israel.

Critics have cited 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".