A PAS lawmaker today slammed those accusing the Islamist party of defending Low Taek Jho, as the names of the Malaysian financier and his luxury yacht were once again the subject of heated debate in the Dewan Rakyat.

While debating the royal address, Idris Ahmad (PAS-Bukit Gantang) asked the government to provide an explanation for the RM1 billion Equanimity belonging to Low, also known as Jho Low, that was confiscated in Indonesia  on February 28.

“I’m afraid this (issue) can affect our trade and people’s perception of our country.

“That’s why the government has to take a bold move like forming a royal commission of inquiry (RCI). In 2015, the Marang MP had suggested for an RCI to be set up to investigate the 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) issue,” he said.

PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang is the Marang MP.

This led Nawawi Ahmad (BN-Langkawi) to rise and ask Idris whether he agreed that the seized yacht had nothing to do with 1MDB.

‘This thing has become a polemic on the world stage and in the report by the Department of Justice (DoJ), we want a thorough answer, including investigations to be carried out, because we don’t want (a negative) perception.

Wong Chen (PKR-Kelana Jaya) interrupted to ask whether Jho Low was a hero who must be defended.

Idris replied he was not defending Jho Low.

“I wasn’t defending Jho Low, I was asking for an investigation to be carried out.

“This is not a good attitude, I was asking for an investigation, for an RCI to be formed, and to conduct it (the investigation) transparently,” Idris said.

The Equanimity was seized by Indonesian authorities at the request of the DoJ, which has launched a criminal investigation into the 1MDB scandal.

Low is a central figure in the DoJ probe into allegations that billions of dollars were stolen from 1MDB. He is also reported to be a confidante of Prime Minister Najib Razak, who set up 1MDB in 2009.

Najib has repeatedly denied allegations of corruption levelled against him, and has been cleared of any wrongdoing by the attorney-general.

In 2016, the DoJ filed civil forfeiture suits to seize US$4.5 billion (RM18 billion) in assets that it claimed were acquired with money stolen from 1MDB. The US$260 million Equanimity is among the assets on the wanted list.

In August last year, the DoJ asked for a stay on the civil suits so that it could conduct a criminal probe into the case.