What former Inspector-General of Police (IGP) Mohamad Fuzi Harun could not do in 1 year since the new government took over, it seems the new IGP Abdul Hamid Bador could probably do in 1 month. The new police chief has just dropped the strongest hint that luck might be running out for chubby Jho Low, the partner-in-crime of former Prime Minister Najib Razak.
During a police programme at the Taman Tun Dr Ismail Bazaar Ramadan on Thursday (May 30), IGP Hamid Bador was asked about the status of Jho Low whose full name is Low Taek Jho. Hamid Bador, who took over as the new police chief from Fuzi Harun on May 1, said – “Insya-Allah (God willing), when I say we are sure of bringing him back soon, it means soon.”ut was IGP Bador, like his predecessor Fuzi, blowing hot air just to boost his popularity? After all, there had been too many false starts – fake promises even – from the Royal Malaysia Police under the previous leadership of Fuzi, one of 17,000 political appointees of the previous corrupt regime of Najib Razak. Mr. Fuzi went on compulsory retirement from May.
Mr. Fuzi was so controversial that PM Mahathir had to assure the public that the new IGP (Bador) will conduct the investigation into allegations that the Special Branch was behind the kidnapping or abduction of Pastor Raymond Koh and a social activist Amri Che Mat. Fuzi was the Special Branch director at the time of the disappearance of the two men in 2017 and 2016 respectively.
Mohamad Fuzi Harun, during his tenure as the head of the Royal Malaysia Police, one of the most corrupt institutions in the country, was largely condemned for protecting his crooked boss – PM Najib Razak. His loyalty to Najib was proven when he declared in March 2018 (2 months before Najib regime collapsed) that there was no link between Jho Low and 1MDB scandal.
The disgraced Fuzi said – “Based on the investigation, Low never worked for the company nor did he make any business decision for the company. All business decisions were made by the 1MDB board of directors.” He also defended Najibfrom the 1MDB scandal, claiming that the seizure of the Equanimity yacht in Bali was merely a civil forfeiture against Low and not against 1MDB.
For almost his entire life as the country’s police chief, Mohamad Fuzi Harun had never been serious about apprehending Jho Low. Even after Najib and his Barisan Nasional government lost everything in the last May general election, Fuzi had continued singing the same old song – that Jho Low had yet to be found and efforts to locate him were still underway.
Last week, IGP Bador revealed that his boys have obtained new leads of Jho Low’s whereabouts, thus promising that the police would do their best to bring the fugitive back home to assist investigations in the 1MDB scandal. The police chief, in urging Jho Low to surrender, has promised to guarantee the safety of the fugitive and his family – if they come back to Malaysia.
Mr. Bador said – “I encourage them (Jho Low and his accomplices) to come back and don’t waste our time, for they can’t run forever. We have laws, so return. Do not only issue statements remotely through lawyers, denying this and that. Why does he himself not return here? I give my assurance of safety for his family and himself. Come back and face the law.”
The police also exposed that besides Jho Low, the authorities are also trying to bring the fugitive’s 6 right-hand men out from hiding. In what appeared to be a message to Jho Low that the authorities were not bluffing and knew more than he thought, the top cop said Jho Low’s move to hide behind his lawyers in Macau and Hong Kong when making statements is nothing short of cowardice.
Abdul Hamid Bador’s performance so far in tracking down Jho Low has been positive and commendable. At least, he has been proactive hunting the fugitive, unlike his predecessor Mohamad Fuzi Harun. However, many aren’t sure the police can be trusted, not to mention it was strategically dumb to raise the alarm before Jho Low is arrested for real.
But Hamid Bador’s assurance of safety for Jho Low and his family suggests that certain “hidden hands” are out to “silence” him from testifying against Najib Razak. After all, Mongolian Altantuya Shariibuu was killed and her body was exterminated with military grade C4 explosive during Najib’s scandal involving the controversial purchase of French Scorpene submarines.
Jho Low looks like a man who still treasures family dignity, or whatever little left of it. He is believed to have had siphoned billions of dollars from 1MDB. He can absolutely live comfortably for the rest of his life, even as a fugitive. Yet, he is fighting to get back a three-storey house in Tanjung Bungah Park in Penang, the RM15 million properties seized by the authorities under AMLA law.
“My parents worked tirelessly for many decades to provide their children with a safe, comfortable upbringing. Before I was born, my mother enjoyed good success in her investments. It is thanks to these prudent decisions that they were not only able to purchase and build 69, Tanjung Bungah Park, but also selflessly donate to and support their local communities for decades similar to my late grandfather,” – said Jho Low.
Clearly, there were some family heritage and sentimental values in the house that the 37-year-old Penangite would like to preserve. And this could be his Achilles’ heel. Besides, it’s not a long-term solution moving between hotel suites and luxury apartments around Shanghai, Hong Kong and Macau, especially with his wife and the need to provide a normal life for his two children.
What is still unknown is the secret deal behind the closed doors struck between both governments of Malaysia and China after the re-negotiation of the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) and the revival of Bandar Malaysia mega projects. As Mahathir throws more supports behind Beijing, the latest being Huawei, it’s a matter of time before Jho Low loses the protection altogether.
But if it’s true that IGP Hamid Bador is moving closer to detaining the country’s most wanted fugitive, it would mean serious trouble for Najib Razak. With nowhere to hide, the former premier’s hotshot lawyer, Shafee Abdullah, has thrown Jho Low and Joanna Yu, Najib’s relationship liaison manager at Ambank, under the bus – blaming the duo as the real culprits and criminals.
Attorney Shafee declared in court – “My client does not deal with his account himself. He was misled and is a victim.” The strategy was to lead the court into believing that fugitive Jho Low was the mastermind who had allegedly scammed and misled Najib Razak. Najib’s lawyer has also accused Nik Faisal Ariff Kamil (former CEO of SRC International) of conspiring against his client.
In exchange for his extremely damaging testimony against Najib, and the returns of tens of billions of Ringgit, Jho Low might be required to serve between 1 to 3 years imprisonment. That is still a good deal since he can live a free life with his family thereafter, not to mention a very comfortable lifestyle as he would definitely hide some money elsewhere for retirement.
Hamid Bador has very little reason to win the popularity contest. He despised Najib’s 1MDB scandal from the beginning and as a result, he was transferred out of Special Branch as deputy chief. He had chosen early retirement in 2015 instead, until Mahathir got him installed as the country’s police chief early this month. He also knew people were fast losing patience after tons of broken promises from the police.
Therefore, for the IGP to confidently tell all and sundry that Jho Low is expected to be detained soon, it carries weight. One has to remember that Hamid Bador was the second man in the Special Branch, the intelligence agency attached to the Royal Malaysia Police. And there’s a reason why Najib had not dared fire him, but instead transferred him to the Prime Minister’s Office. Like it or not, Bador is the best bet to bring Jho Low in.