Najib trades barbs with Azmin over Khazanah

PETALING JAYA • A public tiff on social media has erupted between Malaysia's former prime minister Najib Razak and Economic Affairs Minister Mohamed Azmin Ali over the RM6 billion (S$2 billion) loss recently reported by sovereign wealth fund Khazanah Nasional.

It all started with a Facebook posting by Najib on Tuesday, in which he said: "In the 10 years I was PM and chairperson of the company, Khazanah never suffered losses."

He added that during his tenure as prime minister, the net asset value of Khazanah went up RM82.3 billion (or 224 per cent) from RM33.7 billion at the end of 2008 to RM116 billion at the end of 2017.

He said since Pakatan Harapan took over, the value of Khazanah Nasional had dipped by RM25 billion to RM91 billion.

"RM25 billion isn't a small amount. It can pay nearly all 1MDB debts or half of the ECRL cost, which is RM55 billion," he said, referring to the East Coast Rail Link.

Datuk Seri Azmin posted a series of remarks on Twitter on Tuesday.

"Trouble these days is some politicos, often failed ministers, babble first and check later. End up meludah ke langit, terkena muka sendiri (spitting at the sky and hitting yourself on the face)," he said.

According to Mr Azmin, the losses incurred by Khazanah were caused by investments made before the Pakatan government took over last May.

He noted that Khazanah-owned Malaysia Airlines suffered the heaviest loss of RM3 billion, attributing this to the failure to implement its turnaround plan.

Najib then slammed Mr Azmin for downplaying Khazanah's loss in a Facebook post yesterday.

"I'm not sure if Malaysians can easily forget about the dip of RM25 billion in Khazanah's value, the loss of RM6.3 billion, which is the first to be reported since 2004, or after the assets sold after Pakatan took over," he said.

He also questioned Mr Azmin's decision to force Khazanah to pay a dividend of RM1.5 billion to the government after it announced its staggering losses.

THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 07, 2019, with the headline 'Najib trades barbs with Azmin over Khazanah'. Print Edition | Subscribe