Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak has offered to invest up to USD24 billion (RM100 billion) to support US redevelopment programmes
He made this proposal during his meeting with US President Donald Trump at the White House on Pennsylvania Avenue yesterday, 13 September.
"I want to say that we came here with a strong value proposition to put on the table. We want to help you strengthen the US economy," Najib told Trump when met at the delegation meeting.
Najib said that the Malaysian delegation had three specific proposals, one of which included investments from the Employees Provident Fund (EPF).
1. The EPF alone is expected make investments worth between USD3 and USD4 billion
"We have Employees Provident Fund (EPF), which is a major pension fund in Malaysia. They’ve got quite a big sum of capital to be exported. They have invested close to USD7 billion, in terms of equity, in the United States," Naijb told Trump.
He also said that the additional funds would be to "support" Trump's infrastructure redevelopment programmes.
2. The proposition did not sit well with politicians from the opposition
"It's this kind of hypocrisy that is revolting," DAP's Hannah Yeoh said in a Facebook post today, 14 September.
The Subang Jaya assemblyman said that the Malaysian Home Ministry should be strengthened. She pointed out the recent case involving a police officer who was murdered in a police station with no CCTV (closed-circuit television) because there was no funds.
"Stop cutting budget for schools and hospitals. Absolutely outrageous for the Prime Minister to have such misplaced priorities," she added.
Meanwhile, Selangor Menteri Besar Mohamed Azmin Ali from PKR, stressed that the money held by the EPF "is money held in trust for the rakyat and cannot be used indiscriminately".
"Is the Prime Minister telling us that helping the US build infrastructure is more important than helping Sabah and Sarawak build roads and water pipes?" asked Azmin, as reported by Malaysiakini.
Amanah's International Bureau chairman Datuk Raja Kamarul Bahrin Shah Raja Ahmad shared the same sentiments as Azmir, questioning Najib's intention in wanting to channel funds to the US.
"What is the purpose of him wanting to support America’s infrastructure redevelopment? Why can't he do it in Malaysia. This is unacceptable," the Kuala Terengganu MP was quoted as saying by Berita Daily.
3. The EPF has responded to Najib's statement, saying that the board is currently looking into the proposal
EPF has assured that it is committed to protect the interests of its 14 million members, and all investment proposals will be assessed and go through a robust due diligence process.
"EPF scrutinises foreign investment opportunities that fit its risk and return profile as a retirement savings fund, in line with our long term overseas diversification programme. The US is one of the key markets within the EPF's investment universe given its size and depth," it said in a statement, as reported by Free Malaysia Today.
It was revealed that EPF's overseas investment accounted for 29% of its total investment asset and contributed 37% to the total investment income, as of the first quarter (Q1) of 2017.
4. Najib has also responded to critics, saying that investments in the US have brought good returns to EPF and its members
Malay Mail Online reported that EPF has been investing in US equity since 2008.
According to Najib, EPF members have also enjoyed good returns by receiving dividends, as a result of EPF's USD6 billion (RM25.2 billion) investments.
"When we invest in the US (like EPF), EPF will get returns and this will flow back as dividends to our employees in Malaysia."
"So it's not a one-way street. They are spinning it as though I am here to buy influence from the US," he was quoted as saying by New Straits Times.