Jho Low is alive and well. He's sunning himself all over the Middle East, living it up with his royal friends and has been granted asylum from "human rights and political" persecution. Which kinda sounds like Zakir Naik, doesn't it?

In other news, the alleged LTTE supporters arrested recently in Malaysia have been hit with additional charges which may see them spend the rest of their lives in prison; and, the mind games have begun ahead of nomination day for the Tanjung Piai by-election tomorrow.

A tale of two asylum seekers

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you ...

What do Jho Low and Zakir Naik have in common?

If you think that sounds like the beginning of a bad joke, well, think again. The infamous duo actually do have some things in common. For one thing, they are both wanted men in their native countries. Another is they are being sheltered in foreign lands on the basis that they are being politically persecuted.

Low is said to be in the United Arab Emirates and is currently traveling around various countries in the Middle East where he has close relationships with royal families. His spokesperson says Low has also been granted asylum by “a country that acts in accordance with the principles of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights and European Convention on Human Rights”.

Low is basically claiming he will not get a fair trial should he return to Malaysia. Ironically, this is also what controversial preacher Zakir claims as well, and the reason why Malaysia refuses to send Zakir back to India to face charges. This really feels like karma biting Malaysia in the butt, doesn’t it?

When IGP Hamid Bador said in September the fugitive financier was using his wealth to be able to roam free in an undisclosed country, everyone assumed the country was China. But, given his reported pally ties with Middle Eastern royal families, particularly in Saudi Arabia, this report actually isn’t that surprising.

This news comes after Low reached a settlement with the US Department of Justice over a civil forfeiture in which Low agreed to return US$700 million in assets said to have been purchased using 1MDB funds. Hours later, PM Dr Mahathir Mohamad said Malaysia would soon move to recover all the 1MDB money the DOJ had recovered from Low.

Meanwhile, in other 1MDB-related news, the corruption trial of Najib Razak was adjourned yesterday after the former PM was reported to have swollen eyes, possibly due to an allergic reaction (This feels like the millionth time Jibby has used health concerns to postpone his trial). Defence counsel Shafee Abdullah must have caused a few giggles in the gallery though when, after showing the trial judge pictures of Najib’s swollen eyes, he remarked that he hoped the pictures wouldn’t be leaked to be used for “Halloween” purposes.

Alleged LTTE 'supporters' facing life behind bars

Twelve men, including two DAP assemblymen, charged earlier this week over links to a long-defunct militant organisation, were yesterday hauled to court again to face additional charges.

The 12 men were slapped with charges which, under the Penal Code, could see them face life in prison if found guilty, thanks to their involvement (allegedly, allegedly) with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

In case you have been incommunicado over the past few days, these men were detained by counter-terrorism operatives under the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act, or Sosma. What this means is that they don’t even get a chance for bail.

No one is ever charged under Sosma. The act is used in conjunction with another act, such as the Penal Code, when charges are filed. In case you don’t really understand what these charges are, nor Sosma, this report may help a little.

What makes this whole episode a little difficult to understand is that these men could now spend the rest of their lives in prison (if found guilty) for an offence which involves a defunct militant organisation. That is to say, if they were actually supporting LTTE.

At the same time, Malaysia is reported to be trying to bring back suspected Islamic State militants and their families from Syria. These are hardcore militants belonging to arguably the most brutal terror organisation in the world.

Yes, granted, police have said these men would be prosecuted if and when they return, but will they face charges which would see them spend life in prison? Or will they go through rehabilitation (actually, that’s not even an “if” as rehabilitation is a requirement) and be released after two years, like this Islamic State cell leader.

In fact, just a few weeks ago it was reported that Yazid Sufaat, a Jemaah Islamiyah terrorist caught with four tonnes of ammonium nitrate which he planned to use to bomb targets in Singapore (and Malaysia, we believe), may be released this month after spending two years in detention under the Prevention of Terrorism Act. This man, by the way, has also been linked to the 9/11 attacks in the US.

So if active militants can be “rehabilitated” and released, why not then people who were merely supporting a militant organisation which, we can’t stress enough, does not exist anymore? How is it fair that they have to spend life behind bars while militants get to be rehabilitated and released after two years?

PAS: We support Wee

If anyone was wondering whether PAS would support a BN candidate from MCA in Tanjung Piai, wonder no more.

The Islamist party had recently formalised an agreement for cooperation with Umno, but it was a mystery whether it would cooperate with BN’s non-Muslim component parties. But PAS secretary-general Takiyuddin Hassan says not only will the party support Wee Jeck Seng, its top leaders will be there on nomination day tomorrow as a show of solidarity.

As heartwarming as that sounds, it still remains to be seen whether grassroots PAS supporters will indeed support Wee. For that matter, would Umno members back the MCA man, considering they wanted an Umno candidate to contest? The calls were so persistent that Umno president and BN chairman Ahmad Zahid Hamidi had to come out yesterday to say the coalition was firmly behind Wee.

Meanwhile, Umno sec-gen Annuar Musa hit out at those who have criticised BN’s choice of candidate, considering Wee had lost the seat in last year’s general election, saying there was nothing wrong with a “recycled” candidate since the current PM was also “recycled”. Gotta laugh at that one.

Of course, government leaders also had their say, with sec-gen Saifuddin Abdullah cheekily suggesting PAS should instead campaign for Pakatan candidate Karmaine Sardini as the party had a track record of supporting only Muslim candidates. Saifuddin was being naughty: several non-Muslims have stood under the PAS ticket in previous elections.

But Saifuddin paled in comparison to his boss, good ol’ Maddey Mohamad, who suggested the reason why an MCA man was chosen to contest the Tanjung Piai by-election was because Umno was afraid of losing. When it comes to mind games and withering put-downs, the old man is still the best in the game.

Odds and ends

Here are some other bits of news we thought you might wanna read:

  • Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng says only a few politicians have been appointed to posts within GLCs, and none to the board. This despite think tank Ideas naming several Pakatan politicians on the boards at several GLCs the previous day. Are we buying this at all? And didn’t Pakatan say there would be none?
  • The Rapid Transit System (RTS) project connecting Malaysia and Singapore is back on track after the government brought down the price by about 36% from RM4.93 billion to RM3.16 billion. The Sultan of Johor is chipping in to help keep costs down.
  • Health Minister Dzulkefly Ahmad says his ministry has held discussions with stakeholders over the proposal to decriminalise drug addiction and will bring it to the Cabinet. In other words, it won’t be so soon lah.
  • Dzukefly’s deputy Lee Boon Chye, meanwhile, says it has yet to be decided whether vape should be banned. Can you hear the guarded sigh of relief from vapers?
  • The government is planning to any negative labeling on palm oil for products sold in the country. Let’s hear it for Ms Palm Oil 2019, Teresa Kok.

“How shall a man escape from that which is written; How shall he flee from his destiny?”

- Ferdowsi -

IN INTERNATIONAL NEWS

  • The House of Representatives has approved a resolution for a formal impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump.
  • Speaking of The Donald, it seems el presidente is critical of Boris Johnson’s Brexit plan, saying it restricts the US’s ability to trade with the UK.
  • WhatsApp was hacked in order to spy on high-ranking officials of governments which are allies of the US.
  • Islamic State has confirmed the death of leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and named Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurash, of whom little is known, as its new leader.
  • Okinawa’s most treasured icon and World Heritage site, Shuri Castle, has been destroyed in a fire.

ABOUT THIS NEWSLETTER

This weekday newsletter is brought to you by Trident Media, a group of Malaysian journalists with 60 years of combined media experience in four countries across TV, print and digital media.

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Trident Media · Seksyen 35 · Shah Alam, Selangor 40470 · Malaysia

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