Jho Low must be grinning from ear to ear reading how Inspector-General of Police (IGP) Abdul Hamid Bador squirms every time news flashes over the fugitive’s hideouts. Mr. Low, the No 1 fugitive of Malaysia, was initially believed to be hiding in China, before he was reported to be living extravagantly in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE).
Mr. Low, the partner-in-crime of former Prime Minister Najib Razak, was also reportedly seeking asylum in another country. The best part – he was believed to be “jetting” between Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and other parts of the Middle East, as well as Europe, since June. And he was able to travel freely because apparently he has “close relations with members of the royal families” in the Middle East.
That essentially means Jho Low is only a fugitive as far as his own country, Malaysia (and a handful of countries) is concerned. To the Arab world and Europe, the billionaire is as innocent as a lamb. Sources also said he was given asylum in August under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and European Convention on Human Rights.
It was Daim Zainuddin, the adviser of Mahathir government and arguably the most trusted right-hand man of the prime minister, who had dropped hints that Jho Low was hiding in China. The cash-rich Low fled to China from Hong Kong and Macau the moment Royal Malaysia Police arrived in Hong Kong after moles planted (within the police force) by the fugitive tipped him off.
The people have been told that Low’s Malaysian passport was cancelled in July 2018 while his St Kitts & Nevis passport was revoked in June the same year. The St Kitts & Nevis government said Mr. Low, a wanted man for money-laundering involving funds siphoned off state fund 1MDB, became an “economic citizen” of the Caribbean nation in 2011 but had never set foot in the country.
Heck, Jho Low was even reported to be seen having a dinner party in Hollywood, according to U.S. entertainment and celebrity portal Page Six last month. Police chief Bador had rubbished that the fugitive was ever in Los Angeles due to strict U.S. border security. Similarly, he has described reports that Low is living in the UAE as blatant lies and fairy tales.
IGP Bador’s argument was that it was simply illogical that a fugitive, who was wanted in several countries and widely known as the mastermind involved in international money laundering investigations, could come out of hiding and enter the UAE so easily. The top police’s remarks were based on the force’s working relationship with the UAE’s intelligence unit.
Ahh, but till today, Mr. Bador hadn’t assured the public that the informants or spies paid by Jho Low have been apprehended, let alone charged for accepting bribes in exchange for protecting the fugitive – clearly an act of treason and treachery. Yes, the police chief should explain if the police force is still being infiltrated with corrupt officers under the payroll of the billionaire crook.
If the police deny that the force has been compromised, then they should explain why the fugitive has been always three steps ahead of them. The most puzzling part was the report that Low Taek Jho (Jho Low) and his family were allowed to slip out of Hong Kong to Macau, before escape to China in June 2018, because neither Malaysia nor Singapore formally requested his arrest.
Unfazed by an Interpol red notice requesting his arrest, Jho Low and his entourage were hiding in plain sight in Admiralty, on Hong Kong Island, occupying multiple rooms in the upscale Pacific Place Apartments before leaving for the casino hub after being tipped off by insiders in Malaysia. It appeared that he knew there was no formal request for his arrest from Malaysia or Singapore.
The police chief’s denial that Jho Low had set foot on American soil, or is living a luxurious life in Dubai the same way billionaire and former prime minister of Thailand Thaksin Shinawatra did, has not gone down well with the general public. How did the police know that the billionaire fugitive hadn’t assumed a new identity – or even undergone a cosmetic surgery?
Today, IGP Abdul Hamid Bador goes ballistic over asylum status of Jho Low and new reports that he possesses a Cyprus passport since 2015. Apparently, Cypriot daily Politis claims that Low had gotten the passport after engaged the service of London-based global citizenship and residence advisory Henley & Partners, the same firm that had previously commissioned a St Kitts & Nevis passport.
Politis, the second-largest Greek-language newspaper on the island, revealed that Jho Low had arrived in Cyprus on Sept 18, 2015 and obtained his passport through the support of Archbishop Chrysostomos II of Cyprus. The head of Cyprus’ Christian Orthodox church wrote a letter to the then interior minister Socrates Hasicos expressing his support for Low to be granted a naturalised citizen status.
On September 2015, Henley & Partners, acting on behalf of client Jho Low, also purchased an unfinished villa in Limnara in Ayia Napa for the sum of €5 million (RM23.2 million). According to the broker, a full Cypriot citizenship can be granted to a wealthy individual who is willing to invest €2.5 million into the country through the government-backed Cyprus Investment Programme.
In essence, Jho Low and his whole family could enjoy the benefits of visa-free or visa-on-arrival travel to 173 destinations including Canada, Hong Kong, Singapore, and the UK. Bador hasn’t rubbished the revelation that Low has a Cyprus passport and of Cypriot nationality. However, the top cop has screamed that a certain country is irresponsible for protecting the fugitive.
“We have requested the country concerned to extradite the businessman, but it seems that he is enjoying immunity from any action from the authorities in that country. We have tried various approaches, but they are giving us various excuses to the extent of saying that he had undergone facial plastic surgery,” – complained Abdul Hamid Bador.
Mr. Bador might not realise it, but his condemnation of the irresponsible foreign countries appears to reflect on his own irresponsible boss – Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad. While certain countries have offered asylum to Malaysia’s most wanted fugitive businessman Jho Low, the same Malaysia has offered asylum to India’s most wanted fugitive Islamic preacher Zakir Naik.
If the report of Politis is true, the only difference between Jho Low and Zakir Naik is that the former has gotten his Cypriot citizenship in 2015 while the latter got his Malaysian permanent resident in 2012. In fact, both are fugitives wanted by their origin country for the same reason – money laundering. But between both fugitives, Zakir was worse.
Zakir Naik, the controversial Indian Islamic preacher, is not only wanted by the Government of India for spreading hate speech and laundering money, but also for allegations of funding terrorism. So, if Malaysia can choose to harbour and protect a radical extremist like Zakir Naik, why other countries like Cyprus (or UAE for that matter) cannot do the same for businessman Jho Low?
Amusingly, IGP Bador also whined, moaned and bitched that besides being irresponsible, certain countries had also refused to cooperate with Malaysia and thus making it difficult for the authorities to discharge their duties. Didn’t 94-year-old defiant Mahathir also refuses to cooperate with India when they asked for their citizen to be deported or extradited?
Despite receiving an application from New Delhi to extradite Zakir Naik, an Indian national, Mahathir decided to ignore the request and keeps harbouring Zakir. On June 10, the arrogant premier made it known that he won’t send Mr. Zakir back to India even if officially requested. When asked by journalists, Mahathir said – “Zakir in general feels that he is not going to get a fair trial (in India).”
So, going by Mahathir’s own logic, Jho Low can also argue that he is not going to get a fair trial in Malaysia, can he not? To make matters worse, Malaysia and India have an extradition treaty signed in January 2010 but Mahathir administration deliberately chose to disrespect and dishonours the agreement. On the other hand, there’s no extradition treaty between Malaysia and Cyprus or UAE.
If it’s true that Jho Low and his family are now the citizens of Cyprus, it will be even harder to get him back to Malaysia for trial in relation to the 1MDB scandal, especially if the fugitive is also protected under the European Convention on Human Rights. Cyprus is a member of the treaty. It means the Malaysian government might have to argue their case in the European Court of Human Rights.
For a top police like Bador to scream until foaming at the mouth that country protecting Jho Low is irresponsible is as good as admitting that Malaysia protecting Zakir Naik is also irresponsible. Indirectly, it’s a slap on the face of Mr. Mahathir. Confucius says – “Don’t do unto others what you don’t want others do unto you.”