The state of the nation: navigating BlackRock – Zainul Arifin

This tournament of selective outrage does not help the Palestinian people

(Scoop) – WITHOUT a doubt, we are horrified at what is happening in Gaza and the rest of the occupied territories of Palestine. We can only imagine the pain and the anguish of children rocked to sleep with the “lullaby” of falling bombs, and the death and destruction that follow.

As such, it is unfortunate that the fate of the Palestinians is being co-opted as a convenience for partisan politics. Instead of galvanising us into action to help them, we are trying to score political points by suggesting that some are more sensitive to the plight of the Palestinians than others.

The proposed privatisation of Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd (MAHB) by Khazanah Nasional Bhd and the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) that will see the entry of investment behemoth BlackRock Inc has now been turned into a political football.

BlackRock plans to acquire Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP), which is proposed to have 30% (with the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority) in the privatised MAHB. Khazanah and EPF will hold the remaining 70%.

I understand if people were to object to BlackRock for its affiliation or investments that have links to Israel, or the military-industrial complex feeding the genocide, or even fast-food companies proudly sending burgers and fries to the frontlines as Palestinians were deprived of food and sustenance.

I can understand such an objection – but when it morphed into a full-throated partisan political thing, piggybacking on our anger and anguish to score points against the prime minister and his government, for instance, it suddenly cheapened the righteousness on show.

Amp up the hype machine and get the rhetoric into overdrive! We would, as former minister turned pontificator-of-all-things suggested, be complicit in the genocide in Gaza if the deal went through.

Seriously, KJ? We might be guilty of many things, but genocide?

I am as uncomfortable with the proposed entry of BlackRock into MAHB as the next guy precisely for what is happening in Gaza. Yet I believe that there surely must be a way to differentiate between BlackRock the investor and BlackRock management’s ties to Israel.

Someone suggested to me a couple of years back that BlackRock would have its hand in half of the world by the end of the decade with trillions invested the world over.

It is already on our shores investing – sans MAHB – over RM27 billion in corporate and government shares and debts.

It is here to stay, regardless of whether it will be successful with the MAHB deal or not, unless we want to wish it away. We may be doing so with the – at times strident – explosive and emotional language being used against it.

At the same time, someone suggested that we cannot compare BlackRock’s existing capital market investments in companies in Malaysia with its proposed investment in MAHB.

Why is it okay for BlackRock to be in 30 Malaysian companies but not in MAHB?