Dr M mocks Khazanah’s possible resorts buy

Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has derided Khazanah Nasional Berhad’s reported purchase of luxury resorts chain Aman Resorts, saying the state asset manager should learn from its experience in several loss-making ventures.

Khazanah had said on June 17 that the report was speculative but did not deny the report.

“I don’t know how profitable they are but I do know that hotels and resorts are not easy to manage, even less easy to make profits. It is the management companies which make the profits because profitable or not they get their cut of the takings,” the former prime minister wrote in his blog late yesterday.

Aman Resorts is the owner and manager of 23 small luxury resorts worldwide, located in Bali, France, Morocco and the United States of America.

Dr Mahathir is among several bloggers who have criticised the sovereign wealth fund over its investments and its poor returns with some saying there would be more revelations in the weeks to come.

But the former prime minister who helped found Khazanah to manage the government’s assets spared no punches in slamming its investments policies.

“I am sure Khazanah is well aware of this. Perhaps it is also aware that its investments in fishing had failed. The boats, the nets and other fishing paraphernalia are now dumped in the Langkawi Boustead boatyard. I am told they are for sale,” he said, referring to its deep-sea fishing venture.

Dr Mahathir explained that Khazanah had invested in a company catching young tuna fish in the Indian Ocean.

“The fish would not be landed but would instead be dragged while still in the net to Langkawi. There they would be fed and grown until big enough to harvest.”

“It was as innovative a way to catch fish as any and a multimillion ringgit industry was forecast. I don’t know how much Khazanah invested in this failed venture,” he added.