EVERY time that is a major “development” surrounding 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) and Jho Low, Prime Minister Najib Razak gets a string of visitors warning him that if push comes to shove, Jho Low will drag the administration down.
In fact, the prevailing sentiment within Umno is that Najib should publicly slam Jho Low, the preferred name of businessman Low Taek Jho, and disapprove of all that has been done.
With the new US Department of Justic (DoJ) suit, there was concern that Jho Low could go rogue and chart an independent course of defence – a course of action that could have dire consequences for the 1MDB board of directors and the fund’s chief architect – Najib.
This thinking in some Umno circles and even among a few of PM’s advisers would have gone into overdrive after the Yeo Jiawei case, where Singapore singled out Jho Low.
But the fact is that when it comes to 1MDB, Jho Low and the Najib government are joined at the hip.
They sink or swim together.
The Umno warlords may not understand the complete picture, or accept the true nature of ties between the PM and the chubby, one-time suitor of Miranda Kerr and Paris Hilton, but today’s statement from Jho Low’s spokesman is aimed at making clear the closeness of the relationship.
The position taken by Najib is that Malaysian authorities have not uncovered any misappropriation of funds in 1MDB because the company knew about the transfers of funds and approved of them.
Therefore, 1MDB cannot be a victim because all along, the board and management were aware of and endorsed all such transactions.
Anyone who suggests that large-scale fraud took place is doing so with the sole intent of bringing down Najib.
This narrative forms the spine of the statement issued by Jho Low’s spokesman.
The statement is as much a message to Singapore as it is to the Umno ground. Never the twain shall part, and any suggestion to pin the blame on Jho Low will be ignored.
“Mr Low Taek Jho has never worked for 1MDB and all decisions and dealings of 1MDB was done by the management and board of directors,” Najib had said in a written parliamentary reply to Wangsa Maju MP Tan Kee Kwong in 2015.
That was the story then and it is very much the story now, no matter how many cases are filed and how many people are jailed elsewhere for alleged involvement in laundering money believed to be siphoned from 1MDB.