Jho Low (fullname: Low Taek Jho) was madly furious after his favourite toy, the US$250 million (RM1 billion) Equanimity superyacht – was handed over to the new government of Malaysia by Indonesia without much challenge. The Penang-born fugitive had obviously underestimated the Malaysia-Indonesia close relationship.
The band of highly paid lawyers of Jho Low, while trained in arguing, twisting and spinning laws to recover the luxury vessel, have absolutely little knowledge about the geopolitics factor attached to that yacht. They hadn’t a clue how little respect President “Jokowi” Joko Widodo has on former Prime Minister Najib Razak, let alone his partner-in-crime Jho Low.
Had they realized how the Indonesian mainstream media – both print and electronic – ran down Najib Razak (while he still walks the corridors of power) and his wife Rosmah Mansor in regards to their lavish spending, they would have had known that Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad was up to something “not good” when he visited President Jokowi in June.
That’s call geopolitics or international relations, something which Jho Low probably has difficulty comprehend. There’s a reason why do cats play with mice before killing them. And Jho Low is that mice being played by a 93-year-old cat called Mahathir. The fugitive is no longer just a crook or a thief but has become a chess piece on a political game board being played by Mahathir.
Former premier Najib Razak, and the entire 3-million members of UMNO political party for that matter, have learned the hard way how Mahathir skilfully destroyed, rebuilt and destroyed UMNO since 1988. Did anyone notice how UMNO leaders rarely badmouth Mahathir nowadays? The mere mention of Mahathir’s name sends shiver down their spine.
Shooting blanks, Jho Low accused Mahathir of “putting words in the mouth” of U.S. Department of Justice by saying the Equanimity superyacht’s arrival in the country last week was after negotiations with the Americans. PM Mahathir sarcastically replied – “I am very proud that I can put words in the mouth of the U.S. Government. I must be greater than Trump.”
It was actually an incredible dumb move by Jho Low to play politics with the old fox who had previously ruled the country for 22 years from 1981 to 2003. Even if the seizure of the vessel was controversial, not that Attorney General Tommy Thomas would allow illegality to happen, does the fugitive think the U.S. would admit they have been outsmarted by a 93-year-old Mahathir?
And how could the U.S. reject the seizure when it was them who had asserted ownership of the yacht “on behalf of Malaysia” in the first place? There’s a reason why getting the Equanimity superyacht is of paramount importance, so much so that Mahathir specifically took to social media broadcasting his appreciation to Indonesia for their kind cooperation and collaboration.
The handover of the luxury vessel forms the “base” from which the Malaysia government can launch new demands for the return of other overseas assets bought using money stolen from 1MDB funds. Such assets, including luxury real estate, artworks, investments, private jet and whatnot, have yet to be recovered as they were under investigation on at least three continents.
As expected, Mahathir’s next target is to bring home a private jet – Bombardier Global 5000 – impounded by Singaporean authorities in 2017 and grounded at the Seletar Airport ever since. The US$35 million jet, belonging to Jho Low, is believed to be part of some US$1 billion in assets acquired with funds siphoned from 1MDB that the U.S. government is moving to seize.
However, getting back the private jet from Singapore hasn’t been as smooth as the Equanimity yacht. In fact, there are tons of money siphoned out and being parked in Singapore financial institutions that should be returned to Malaysians. But the Singapore government is giving a tough time to Malaysia – prove that the money is yours!
It’s a public knowledge that Singapore was silent over the stashing of money laundered by Najib Razak and Jho Low in the island. The fact that the new government of Mahathir was forced to appoint Singapore firm – Tan Rajah & Cheah – to recover billions of ringgit that the people finally realise how Singapore had kept the 1MDB scandal as quiet as possible.
The assets sought include at least S$240 million (US$174 million; £136 million; RM713 million) cash, of which about S$120 million belong to Mr Low Taek Jho (Jho Low) and his immediate family. But while it’s a bit tricky to claim the cash, it a totally different animal when come to assets such as the US$35 million Bombardier Global 5000.
After Indonesia gladly returned the RM1 billion Equanimity superyacht to Malaysia, what could be the excuses, if any, that the government of Lee Hsien Loong has in not returning the private jet to the rightful owner – the people of Malaysia? After all, it was the U.S. Department of Justice which has established that the jet was purchased in 2010 using funds stolen from 1MDB.
Is Singapore going to deny Malaysia’s request to hand over the private jet, and in the process indirectly challenge the U.S.-DOJ investigation results that says over US$4.5 billion was misappropriated from the 1MDB fund, with some of the money used to buy the private jet, a superyacht, Picasso paintings, jewellery and real estate?
If Lee Hsien Loong government chooses to pussyfooting and dragging its feet over the claims, it will go to prove that the Singapore is more interested in protecting and harbouring crooks Najib Razak and Jho Low. Yes, getting the Equanimity was Mahathir’s strategic move to pressure Singapore into surrendering ill-gotten assets plundered and parked in the island.
Source : Finance Twitter