A Kadir Jasin
But that had not always been the case as the Sime Darby billion ringgit foreign project losses had shown.
So it is totally understandable that when Felda, a smallholder-based plantation agency, ventured abroad to invest not in plantation but in a posh London apartment.
What does Felda know of hotel and apartment management? It does not sound right.
So it is timely and appropriate that the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission had stepped in to investigate the purchase.
That the MACC’s investigation might derail Felda Chairman, Mohd Isa Samad’s bid to win the Umno vice president post is insignificant.
Mohd Isa not winning the seat is unimportant compared to the damage Felda could suffer if the London deal was inappropriately done.
The Malaysian Insider had reported that Felda's £98 million (RM497 million) purchase of a London serviced apartment complex is now being investigated by anti-graft officials and could derail Isa's chances in the Umno vice-president race.
And that the deal is causing growing disquiet in Umno is a good thing. At least there are still people in the party who care beyond winning posts in the ongoing leadership election.
If they truly care, they should bring the case up at all levels of the party. They should also debate the appointments of chairmen of GLCs and ambassadors, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations, the strengthening of the Bumiputera economy, the new education blueprint and much more.
The news portal quoted an unnamed person it described as an Umno warlord as saying that the price tag is being widely discussed by Umno members because it is very expensive and it is not something that Felda should be venturing into.
Be Prudent When Investing Abroad
In my column in the Oct 1-15 issue the Malaysian Business magazine I made the following comment:
“I would like also to advise our investors, in particular the Government-Linked Companies (GLCs) and Government-Linked Investment Companies (GLICs) to be mindful of where they invest abroad and in what industries.
“While I applaud their courage and sense of self-confidence in venturing abroad, I must caution them of the risk they are taking. Too many of them are pumping big money into properties, including hotels, which are cyclical in nature.
“Then there is the foreign exchange risk that had caused havoc and major losses to global investors in recent decades. Unless our GLCs and GLICs have strong knowledge in currencies, they may not be able to successfully manage this risk.
“I know the local market is not large enough for the kind of investments and returns they are talking about. This is made worse in recent years by the objection to GLCs and GLICs buying into or take over non-Bumiputera companies as the case of Permodalan Nasional Berhad’s acquisition of SP Setia had shown.
“It does not matter to these anti-market forces that the deals were made in the open market on the willing-buyer, willing-seller basis. It does not also matter that the PNB has been a controlling shareholder of these companies.
“The negative chauvinistic reactions have spooked the GLCs and GLICs. Even the government is to be worried about such a backlash. There can never be a healthy market-driven Bumiputera-non-Bumiputera collaboration if these chauvinists are allowed to hold sway.
“Additionally, we should emulate countries like Saudi Arabia and China, which are going big on food production and food security in the face of global population boom and global warming.
“We should be growing more food for our people and for sale to the rest of the hungry world. We could still find new land in Africa and existing agricultural land in the neighbouring regions.
“Indonesia is opening up Irian Jaya for agriculture and rice-exporting Vietnam is buying up land in Cambodia. We should not be left out because we are a major food importer.”
So it does not sound appropriate when Felda is investing in a London hotel. It should be investing that sum and much more in agriculture and food manufacturing around the world.
But isn’t the Prime Minister, Mohd Najib Abdul Razak, Felda’s mentor or something like that?