A tribute and thank you to Khazanah Nasional

Thus, when there was a suggestion of “alleged wrongdoings” in the upper echelons of Khazanah, all of us in the NGO community without exception were flabbergasted. These flawed allegations have since been effectively debunked by business savvy analysts, not after a free fall of RM2 billion in the Khazanah investment stable!

By Dr Musa Mohd Nordin, Free Malaysia Today

In December 2014, our nation witnessed its worst floods in 30 years. A quarter million were affected and 160,000 were evacuated. Many NGOs were up to their ears in floodwaters, desperately trying to help the victims.

But it was the season for giving, with Christmas just around the corner. We were handed a bumper RM250,000 cheque by Khazanah Nasional to continue our flood relief efforts. It was as if the big boys in the Twin Towers knew of the flood relief work that we and other NGOs were doing, and they wanted to make sure it continued uninterrupted into the recovery and mitigation phase of the disaster management loop.

There were many other NGOs who were beneficiaries of Khazanah’s altruistic and proactive gestures. One NGO in particular was tasked and fiscally supported by Khazanah to put in place flood mitigation and preparedness plans for the east coast states.

Meanwhile we, comprising a group of millennial doctors, healthcare professionals and non-medical volunteers, continued with our outreach programmes to serve the health needs of Malaysia’s marginalised communities. These included the Orang Asli, refugees and immigrant communities.

These non-glamorous and exhausting activities do not excite the average Malaysian, let alone the ambitious politician. Fund raising was extremely painful.

If not for Khazanah, our aspirations to serve the health needs of these communities would have prematurely aborted. One of our doctors captured our sentiments perfectly when he remarked, “#Health4Orang Asli powered by Khazanah Nasional.”

Our Khazanah-donated Hilux four-wheel drive has since clocked 23 missions in 18 Orang Asli kampungs in West Malaysia, and five indigenous settlements in Sarawak, treating 2,750 people with the participation of 403 volunteers. Each mission on its own cost RM25,000 – you can guess how much was invested to reach out to these people with basic healthcare services.

One of these trips might involve being off-road for 50km on a 12-hour bumpy ride in a four-wheel drive. Our volunteers set up medical camps and did medical checks on virtually entire village communities. We focused on the children, assessing their growth, development and immunisation records, organising shampoo parlours, demonstrating teeth brushing and empowering them with knowledge on personal hygiene and health education.

Closer to the urban setting and again with Khazanah funding, we have been able to offer a modicum of healthcare services on a biweekly basis to refugees, namely the Rohingya community. At 130,000, they represent the largest population of refugees. If not vaccinated against vaccine-preventable diseases, they could become the epicentre of an outbreak. Our medical outreach and health education programmes have since been extended to more refugee communities in the Klang Valley, Kelantan, Pahang, Penang and elsewhere.

I vividly remember a WhatsApp message from a highly placed Khazanah manager in September 2017 which read: “KN board meeting due, kindly propose humanitarian relief plans for the Rohingya exodus into Bangladesh.” With Khazanah funding, we were among the first teams to enter Cox’s Bazar with our partners to build shelters, organise soup kitchens, and provide safe and clean drinking water and emergency healthcare.

Our biweekly missions to the refugee camps in Bangladesh now involve a total of 83 doctors. Last night, we dispatched our 25th team, offering healthcare services to camps in Cox’s Bazar.

In collaboration with doctors from Bangladesh, the US, Australia, Egypt, Lebanon, South Africa and more, we operate a standalone primary healthcare centre and mobile clinics, and assist at the Malaysian Field Hospital.

When the Khazanah team was due to undertake a mission to the West Bank, apart from connecting it to the former Christian lady minister of Jerusalem, we added a note that the visit to Jerusalem would be futile if efforts to champion the humanitarian cause were not continuously and steadfastly pursued thereafter.

The Khazanah Asia (Palestine) Scholarship programme was mooted in 2013 and continues to fund five to six Palestinian students from Gaza, West Bank and the diaspora for post-graduate studies in Malaysia on an annual basis.

Our scholarship programme for needy students at eight universities in Gaza in 2014 began with an initial funding of RM300,000 provided by Khazanah Nasional’s Megatrends 2014. This programme has continued every year and a total of 2,000 scholarships have since been disbursed.

More recently in June, when the organisers of the 8th Pan Disability Football Championships were short of funding for their tournament for children and adults suffering from cerebral palsy, intellectual disorders, autism, blindness and deafness, as well as amputees and those who are wheelchair-bound, Khazanah stepped in to ensure its continuity.

Our experience is just a minor reflection of the unbridled generosity and philanthropy of Khazanah to ensure the continuity and viability of programmes that benefit marginalised communities in Malaysia. Mind you, our efforts to solicit funds from other corporate entities often left us in despair. To suggest this was the expected corporate social responsibility of Khazanah would belittle the “maqasid insaniah” – the higher objectives of humanity of the leadership of Khazanah, in particular towards addressing the unmet needs of the rakyat and on a global level for the oppressed citizens of the world.

Thus, when there was a suggestion of “alleged wrongdoings” in the upper echelons of Khazanah, all of us in the NGO community without exception were flabbergasted. These flawed allegations have since been effectively debunked by business savvy analysts, not after a free fall of RM2 billion in the Khazanah investment stable!

We had hoped that the leaders of the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government would be more competent, accountable and transparent regarding their transformation plans for the nation’s treasures, which in the case of Khazanah is turning out to be a witch-hunt of sorts. Some of our best business brains in Khazanah who have more than trebled the net value of its portfolio from RM33 billion at the end 2008 to RM116 billion at end 2017, have now been unceremoniously removed.

The auditor-general has singled out Khazanah as an exemplary business organisation and has heaped praises on its financial performance, business acumen and management.

Investment misadventures, the likes of Perwaja, Maminco, MISC, PKFZ, MAS, BMF, Proton, BNM forex losses and the infamous 1MDB, are plentiful in the business world. But to lump Khazanah in the list of the nation’s financial scandals is totally misplaced and mischievous.

We hope the ministers in the Cabinet, the non-minister MPs and the business community will keep a hawkish eye on the politics in Khazanah and ensure that our nation’s treasures continue to yield handsome returns as under the stewardship of the previous board of directors. They should also hold to strict account any suspicious business dealings and immediately raise red flags on any business misdemeanours of the incoming board.

We pray and hope that the excellent work that was trail-blazed by the previous board to promote Malaysia’s global sustainability through community empowerment, social inclusivity and environmental protection continues uninterrupted. We would like to see further enhancement of the core programmes in education, generation of new knowledge and research, catalysing the arts, heritage and culture ecosystem, conservation of the environment and capacity building of civil societies and vulnerable communities.

We would like to pay tribute to the guys in the Khazanah boardroom who have held our nation’s head high in the midst of a global economic crisis and the nation’s financial calamities. We are simply medical guys who heal the human bodies. It is our fervent hope and aspiration that together, we can heal this broken nation and spur it towards once again becoming the roaring yet compassionate Tiger of Asia.