By Julian Tan
IN 2018, Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein offered himself to track down and bring back fugitive businessman Jho Low.
Then merely an opposition MP following Barisan Nasional’s shock defeat in the polls, the ex-Minister said he would “search until the ends of the earth” to bring back the man at the centre of the 1MDB scandal.
Fast forward three years later and Hishammuddin is now the Foreign Minister. By right, this would put the Sembrong MP in a better stead to bring home Malaysia’s Most Wanted Man.
Back then, Hishammuddin had claimed to have good connections in China to arrange for the deportation of Low, who is believed to be hiding there.
Now, not only can the Foreign Minister leverage his informal network, he has the entire Wisma Putra, including all its foreign missions, at his disposal to deliver on his promise.
Or was Hishammuddin in 2018 merely trying to ingratiate himself to the voters who had shunned in droves the BN, whom he was a key leader of then? Was his pledge a political sideshow?
And has Hishammuddin pulled out all the stops as a Foreign Minister to bring back Low, who’s deeply tied with the former’s cousin, ex-PM Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Razak?
Malaysians may have short memories, but Low is one figure who will remain in public consciousness for some time to come. Our anger over the brazen siphoning of billions in public funds has yet to fade away.
On the contrary, it is more acute now given the harsh economic conditions brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Those retrenched, experiencing sharp salary cuts or seeing their own businesses all but grind to a halt, can’t help but yearn for financial aid that had been used for splurging on wild parties, posh homes in prime addresses and collectors’ art.
The Inspector-General of Police (IGP) has made several promises of bringing back Low, said to be shuttling between China and Macau under new identities, to face justice back home.
But updates on progress have been few and far between. The public has a right to know of the progress made or roadblocks encountered.
As other countries are throwing the book at those implicated in the grand larceny, in Malaysia where it all happened, only ex-PM Najib is convicted and sentenced to 12 years jail and a RM210 mil fine. Not only is Najib still a free man, pending his appeal, he is staging a political comeback of sorts.
Justice must not only be served but be seen to be served and for this reason, Low must be brought back and face trial here. The Government needs to try harder to extradite the man, starting with Hishammudin putting money where his mouth is. – Jan 29, 2021
Julian Tan is an avid FocusM reader.
The views expressed are solely of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Focus Malaysia.
Photo credit: The Star