It’s been a week of Jho Low-related stories, and it wouldn’t be complete without a juicy soundbite from Malaysia’s nonagenarian prime minister, Mahathir Mohamad.
Speaking to the Financial Times from a regional leaders’ summit in Bangkok, the PM said that the Malaysian government did not know exactly where the famed fugitive was hiding, nor was it involved in any negotiations for his extradition, contradicting past statements from high-ranking officials.
At a subsequent press conference back in KL, Mahathir elaborated that Malaysia was weary of picking a fight with the fugitive financier alleged thief’s apparently accommodating hosts.
“We can go to war, but we will lose the war and Jho Low. We are conscious that we are not a very strong nation,” he said.
“Sometimes people are nice to us, sometimes they are not. We have to accept that,” the elder statesman concluded.
The remarks capped off a flurry of news this week, including revelations that Low is said to be traveling on a Cypriot passport, and claims from Malaysia’s Inspector-General of Police (IGP) that law enforcement was aware of where Low was hiding.
IGP Abdul Hamid Bador had previously teased media with statements proclaiming to have zeroed in on the fugitive, and that law enforcement was working to bring him back home to face his charges.
Also mentioned? That Jho was “hiding like a chicken,” and that he’s apparently had a lot of plastic surgery since we last saw him greasing up our screens. FYI, he reportedly looks like a bear now. (Mmmmkay…)
When asked why his own account contradicted that of the IGP, Mahathir responded with the kind of side-eye that we’ve come to appreciate over the course of his decades in the political limelight:
“The IGP said Jho Low was in Cyprus, but I do not speak the same language as IGP. IGP is the IGP. If you give me all these [police] medals on my shoulder, I would speak like the IGP.”
(No, we don’t know what that means either, but it sounds shadier than a Portofino beach umbrella.)
He did add that the government was doing all that it could to bring him home, but that “information is not easy to get.”
(That’s putting it mildly, Tun.)
Meanwhile, one of the PM’s media advisors, senior journalist A. Kadir Jasin, took to his Blogspot account (‘sup, Boomer?) to offer his own novel solution in tracking down Jho:
“So let’s do a Mossad and get our hands on him. This should not be too difficult since our law enforcement agencies and their top brass have been telling us that they know his whereabouts,” he said in the post.
“Let’s not beat around the bush anymore. Just dig him out of the worm hole, as promised, and bring him back to Malaysia kicking and screaming.”
(Y’know, part-Fauda, part Saddam capture.)
Malaysia, it should be noted, is high-key anti-Israel, refusing to diplomatically acknowledge them, or grant visas to their nationals.
Also Malaysia: LET’S GET OUR MOSSAD ON.
Low’s whereabouts have been unknown, officially speaking, since he slipped through the fingers of authorities and absconded into the embrace of a third-party nation reportedly granting him asylum.
News broke yesterday that the Cypriot government has initiated the process of revoking the citizenship of 26 allegedly dubious individuals that did not pass muster under revised guidelines for the controversial citizenship-by-investment scheme that Low allegedly exploited to obtain his passport. Though the government did not name him outright, news outlets are reporting that Low is among this problematic baker’s two-dozen.
As with all things high and Low, we’ll keep you posted as the story develops.
This article, Mahathir says government doesn’t know exactly where Jho is as Cyprus starts passport purge, originally appeared on Coconuts, Asia's leading alternative media company. Want more Coconuts? Sign up for our newsletters!