Guess who’s back in the news? Why, it’s none other than everybody’s not-so-favourite fugitive financier, Jho Low. We have all the deets, so grab some murukku, folks, cos there's gonna be some drama.

In other news, KL City Hall has issued new guidelines for liquor sales which have some up in arms; our Covid-19 numbers are in the four-digit realm for the fifth day running; and a former DPM wants our leaders to… errr… lead by example by having their salaries cut.

Shady's back, tell a friend

Whale watching

It’s been so long since we heard his name that we almost forgot what he looked like. Almost. 

 

But the cherubic Low Taek Jho a.k.a Jho Low a.k.a the Billion Dollar Whale (not a fat joke!) is back in the news. International news org Al Jazeera dropped some juicy bombs in an exclusive report yesterday detailing how the big 1MDB fish attempted to weasel his way out of trouble and bargain for his freedom (beg, more like) from the then-Pakatan Harapan gomen.

 

AJ‘s report is based on its documentary, Jho Low: Hunt For A Fugitive, which you can find in two parts, here and here, which featured phone conversations (allegedly! allegedly!) between Low and Malaysian gomen officials in the months following Harapan’s big GE14 win in 2018. 

 

In a nutshell, Low’s claimed he’s innocent (no surprises there) and pinned the blame over the entire 1MDB debacle and missing billions firmly on the shoulders of his ex-boss Najib Abdul Razak.

 

You can also find the full news report here, but if you don’t have the time, or well, malas, we’ve broken down his claims for you:

(note: We can’t afford fancy lawyers like the Jhos and the Jibs of the world so each of the claims below comes with a big fat ‘allegedly! allegedly!’ disclaimer okay?)

 

  • Our pirate has claimed he merely “borrowed” billions to buy himself luxury properties, art masterpieces, a private jet and a mega yacht, among other things. He just wanted to assist in repatriating said assets in return for being able to move on in life “without, you know, being prosecuted”.
     
  • It was former glorious leader Jibby Razak, as prime minister and finance minister at the time, and not Jho-Jho who had the authority to approve all 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) transactions. To jog your memory, a total of US$4.5 BILLION is estimated to have been ultimately looted from our coffers in this grand heist.
     
  • He was about to make a deal with the US Department of Justice (DoJ) but the Najib-BN gomen didn’t want him to do so to avoid implicating Jibby.

    Low ultimately did end up striking a sweet, sweet deal with the Americans for him and his family in 2019.
     
  • The Jibster spent more than US$500,000 on jewellery for his darling wifey Rosmah Mansor, including US$27 million on a pink diamond.
     
  • Most of the money found in Jibby’s bank accounts came from 1MDB, though a small portion did come via a personal donation from Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah. Meanwhile, Abu Dhabi was complicit in the whole affair and had a hand in the cookie jar.
     
  • At various times during his phone conversations with Pakatan officials, Jho Low had mentioned he was in China and suggested a meeting either in Hong Kong or Macau. Yet when Malaysian investigators set up a meeting in Macau, he fled to the United Arab Emirates. 

    In fact, despite his Malaysian passport and one he bought in St Kitts and Nevis being cancelled and two Interpol Red Notices and a US arrest warrant out on him, he’s managed to enter several countries, including the UAE, Kuwait, Thailand, India and Grenada.

    Not sure what his travel plans have been like recently with Covid-19 but we’re willing to bet he’s not staying home ordering Uber Eats.

 

Low reaching out to PM4/7 Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s gang is not new information – but this is the first time we’ve been let in on the conversation.

 

Maddey’s top adviser Daim Zainuddin also previously claimed Jho-boy apparently even offered his help in negotiating better terms with China over the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL). 

 

Apparently, none of that came to anything, and our friend remains in hiding. Mads, had in Nov last year denied being in contact and denied knowing where the little thief (allegedly, allegedly!) was, contradicting police chief IGP Hamid Bador. Which means that if Jho is telling the truth, then Maddey was lying through his teeth all the while. 

 

Following the AJ report, top cop Hamid has once more guaranteed “safe passage” home should our prodigal son wish to return to face the music. 

 

Meanwhile, a member of Jibby’s legal team has cautioned that Low’s claims that the former PM was behind everything in the 1MDB farce should be taken with a “shovel of salt”

 

Well, what else would you expect from Najib’s defence counsels? After all, Najib’s entire blur sotong ‘I’m-really-the-victim-here‘ defence in the SRC International graft trial had ridden on the claim he was hoodwinked by Low. Jibby ‘not-our-boss’ Razak is still facing 1MDB-related criminal charges so you can bet he ain’t too happy right now.

We agree with his s̶h̶a̶r̶k̶s̶ lawyers on one thing though, Low must be brought back to Malaysia to be put on the stand. 

 

Now excuse us while we go puke our guts out.

One last call for alcohol

In a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it bit of news, KL City Hall (DBKL) has announced it’ll be imposing a hard liquor sale ban on certain types of establishments next year. 

 

Basically, the breakdown is as such: 

  • Sundry and grocery shops, convenience stores as well as Chinese medicine shops in KL won’t be allowed to sell hard liquor starting Oct 1 next year. 
     
  • Pure or mixed liquor products in traditional medicine, however, will be exempt from this ruling.
     
  • Beer will still be allowed to be sold at these premises from 7am to 9pm.
     
  • Business premises that sell liquor also can’t be in front of police stations, places of worship, schools and hospitals. Why balai and hospitals though?
     
  • Pubs, bars, lounges and restaurants can sell liquor from 10am to midnight, though some can also apply to extend such sales to 2am. 

In July, FT Minister Annuar Musa had said DBKL would be drawing up new guidelines for liquor licences. The reason given was due to the spate of drink driving incidents and the views of NGOs, the public and political parties (allegedly! allegedly!)

 

Drink driving is, without a doubt, a problem in Malaysia. It’s a problem that has existed for years as hero motorists think they can handle their vehicles while drunk. In the first five months of the year alone, 822 people were arrested for driving under the influence.  

 

It’s a problem solved by two things: enforcement and, more importantly, changing the mindsets of drinkers. What authorities have not explained is why changing liquor licence laws will help. 

 

If you recall, a suggestion by PAS that the manufacturing and sale of alcohol be banned temporarily while the nation dealt with the issue of drink driving was met with derision by many quarters. 

 

Opposition MPs and even MCA had said back then that stricter laws and enforcement were needed more than a ban. So did owners of eateries and nightclubs

 

There was even a report that any ban would be an infringement of the rights of the indigenous peoples of Sabah and Sarawak, as many tribes use alcohol in their customary rites. 

 

In the end, we thought, level heads prevailed as the government managed to pass amendments to the Road Transport Act which provided for, among others, harsher sentences for driving under the influence, whether alcohol or drugs – all of which were good moves and should be applauded. 

 

That is, until Monday, when DBKL publicised its new guidelines. Our one simple question is: why this is being done? The government (local, state or federal) should be able to explain any bit of regulation. Last we checked, fascism wasn’t really what we signed up for. 

 

There are so many weird things about this new ruling. For example, why ban alcohol sales in front of police stations and hospitals? Is DBKL afraid doctors, nurses and cops are gonna get wasted during their lunch breaks?

 

Why can’t sundry shops, grocery stores and convenience stores sell hard liquor? As these trade associations have pointed out, this is especially horrible at a time like this when these establishments are struggling to survive due to the Covid-19 pandemic. All this does is drive those seeking alcohol to supermarkets, which are allowed to sell hard liquor.

The drink driving problem is for those that go to watering holes, get wasted and proceed to act stupid, not those who tapau booze from the medicine shop and go home. If the worry is about kids buying booze, the solution is stricter enforcement and a revocation of licenses for businesses found guilty.

 

And if the argument here is well at least bars and pubs can continue to serve liquor till late, don’t forget they’ve not been permitted to reopen since the movement control order (MCO) was enacted back in March. This despite the fact that since Covid hit our shores, we’ve had a tabligh cluster, church cluster, prison clusters, immigration detention centre clusters – but not a single pub or bar cluster. So why are these the ones that have been shut down? 

So the question for us is – is this a further sign that theocracy is becoming a larger and larger factor in our government? There has been more and more rhetoric – as well as legislation and regulation – against alcohol in the past year alone, so we’re certainly wondering if there’s some kind of err… crusade… against booze. With PAS in government, we certainly can’t rule that out. 

 

DAP’s FT chapter will be fighting the new guidelines all the way. It’ll first gather objections from stakeholders and is seeking a meeting with the KL Mayor to urge him to withdraw the guidelines. 

 

The party has slammed the guidelines as being anti-business, victimisation of law-abiding, tax-paying business owners and infringing the rights of non-Muslims to practice their own culture (it ain’t just the indigenous peoples of Sabah and Sarawak who use alcohol in cultural rites, OK?), 

 

At the end of the day, authorities can’t just impose it and say its cos alcohol is bad.

Happy birthday Covid-19, we hate you!

Yesterday marked the day the first case of Covid-19 was detected in Wuhan, in the Hubei province of China. 

 

Of course, back then, it wasn’t known as Covid-19 and doctors thought they were merely treating pneumonia-like symptoms. No one knew then a pandemic was on their hands. In fact, the 55-year-old patient wasn’t even identified as “Patient Zero” till a month later.

 

Well, one year on and the virus has swept the globe, infecting over 55 million and killing over a million people. Worse, it’s showing no signs of stopping. For Malaysia, the worst wave so far is still upon us.

 

Yesterday saw 1,210 new cases and 5 deaths, bringing the cumulative number to 49,730 cases and 318 deaths. There were 1,018 recoveries, making the number of active cases 12,788

 

Most of the new cases were recorded in the Klang Valley and Sabah (42.8 and 41.2 percent, respectively).

 

Five new clusters were reported in Sabah (two), KL, Penang and one that spanned Kelantan and Terengganu. On the bright side, five clusters (including three in Sabah) have been declared ended. 

 

The Health Ministry has attributed the surge in Klang Valley infections to workplace clusters. In fact, four of the new clusters yesterday were from such. 

 

DG Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah has also allayed fears following the emergence of pictures of workers at construction sites wearing pink wristbands which had recently gone viral. The wristbands, he’s said, merely denoted these workers had undergone Covid-19 screenings at their workplaces, and not that they were under quarantine or were close contacts of positive cases. 

 

Sorry doc, but you gotta do better than that. Seriously, why are there pink wristbands for those under quarantine as well as those who’d undergone screening? We’ve said it before, and we’ll keep saying it till the right people listens: there need to be clear SOPs and guidelines and these need to be explained to Joe and Jane Q. Public.

 

Anyhoo, here are some other Covid-related news that came out yesterday:

 

  • Ketari (that’s in Pahang, if you weren’t aware) assemblyperson Young Syefura Othman’s been issued a compound fine (finally!) for breaching CMCO regulations in Selangor after celebrating her birthday at a beach in Bagan Lalang on social media. This came after netizens raised a stink when the DAP rep uploaded a picture of herself and friends online. Let’s give a cheer for the latest Govidiot in our midst!
     
  • The loss of revenue due to the Covid and the various forms of the MCO have left Zoo Negara facing a financial crisis. It has only three months’ worth of funds left. This is the second time this year the national zoo is on the brink of disaster, with the first money problems coming during the early days of MCO. 
     
  • The pandemic’s effects on the travel industry have left AirAsia Group Bhd’s associate company in Japan, AirAsia Japan Co Ltd file for bankruptcy. Meanwhile, the group is also reviewing its investment in AirAsia India and could possibly exit the joint-venture airline. 

Of the budget and some other stuff

Last week former Dictator PM Mads Mohamad mooted that ministers and deputy ministers take a 30 percent pay cut to reduce unnecessary expenses in the 2021 Budget. 

 

Well, that idea was brought up again, this time by Amanah Youth. Funnily enough, they didn’t mention poor Mads in their statement. But then again, our grand ol’ man of Malaysian politics is now an enemy of Pakatan, even if he is still an opposition member. 

 

But, one of Maddey’s former deputies (and boy were there many) was even more brutal, at least in some ways. Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, while suggesting that PM Muhyiddin Yassin, ministers and deputy ministers take only a 10 percent pay cut, said politicians who take up posts as GLCs and GLICs should have their salaries cut by 50 percent

 

We love that idea Wawi. After all, many GLC and GLIC positions can lead to super-duper high salaries of up to millions per annum.

 

Meanwhile, the EPF has said it’ll have to sell off assets in order to allow for withdrawals by contributors. That exercise began in March, but has been extended and expanded with Budget 2021 greenlighting withdrawals from Account 1 for those in dire need due to the pandemic.

 

Anyway, there were a number of stories that tickled out fancy yesterday, so here they are in brief:

  • The Health Ministry’s announced a new national immunisation schedule that will see children having to require fewer jabs but will offer the same amount of protection. You can check out these infographics for the new schedule. 
     
  • Anti-graft officers have arrested 46 people, including 27 Immigration officers (dayumnnn, that’s a lot), crippling a syndicate falsifying immigration records for foreign workers. 
     
  • Transport Minister Wee Ka Siong’s denied allegations he told the original contractor for the Klang Valley Double Tracking 2 project to subcontract the entire project to a company from China. 
     
  • Holders of sensitive posts in the police force will be rotated more often in the future, not only to give more officers the opportunity to gain experience but also to avoid the possibility of misconduct.
     
  • A Pakatan MP from Selangor has called for the government to declare rivers as security areas in light of frequent cases of pollution leading to water cuts in the Klang Valley. Hey, that’s what we said last week!

“Thief, thief, thief! Baggins! We hates it, we hates it, we hates it forever!”

- Gollum -

IN INTERNATIONAL NEWS

  • More than 55.2 million Covid-19 cases and north of 1.3 million deaths have been recorded in the world already, and France has become the first European nation to have more than two million cases. 
     
  • US President-elect Joe Biden has warned that “more people will die” if loser outgoing POTUS Donald Trump continues to block the transition of power. Meanwhile, Biden has named his top White House aides, including a deputy chief of staff who, as his campaign manager, was the first woman to lead a successful Presidential bid. 
     
  • Unnamed sources say Trump had enquired about bombing Iran’s main nuclear site last week but ultimately decided against it. Who’da thought The Donald is capable of not being an idiot all the time?
     
  • The Pentagon will, in January, go ahead with the Trump administration’s plan to withdraw 2,500 American troops from Iraq and Afghanistan. Currently, there are 4,500 US soldiers in Afghanistan and 3,000 in Iraq. 
     
  • The UN says heavy fighting in the Tigray region of Ethiopia between government forces and rebels of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front is turning into a full-scale humanitarian crisis, with more than 27,000 people having now fled to Sudan. 

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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