Malaysia has achieved another first in the world but it is something which Malaysians have nothing to be proud about.
Two days ago, Malaysian ‘billionaire’ and fugitive financier from justice, Jho Low reached a settlement deal with the United States Department of Justice and agreed to surrender US$1billion in funds he and his family had misappropriated from Malaysian investment fund 1MDB.
As Jho Low himself said his personal blog page:
“I am very pleased to confirm that a landmark comprehensive, global settlement has been reached with the United States government, which fully and forever resolves in their entirety each of the U.S. government’s civil, criminal, and administrative actions or proceedings relating to the defendant assets at issue in the Central District of California.
“The historic agreement builds on a series of successful prior agreements negotiated with the U.S. Department of Justice and is the result of good faith discussions between the parties.
“Importantly, the agreement does not constitute an admission of guilt, liability or any form of wrongdoing by me or the asset owners. We believe all parties consider this resolution, which is subject to final court approval, to be a successful and satisfactory result.”
Jho Low is not only the first Malaysian, but the only person, in the world who could surrender US$1 billion in funds, although his action “does not constitute an admission of guilt, liability or any form of wrongdoing by me or the asset owners”.
But this is not an action which any Malaysian can feel proud.
US Justice Department officials estimate that high-level officials and associates of 1MDB including Low and the former Prime Minister Datuk Najib Razak had siphoned over US$4.5 billion belonging to 1MDB from 2009 to 2015.
It is impossible for the former Prime Minister Najb to claim ignorance of such massive scale of corruption, abuse of power and money-laundering as the full details of the US Department Justice’s largest kleptocratic forfeiture suit were revealed the US DOJ’s litigation proceedings in July 2016 and June 2017, and if there had been no change of government in Malaysia in the 14th General Election on May 9, 2018, it is very unlikely that the recovery and punitive actions for the massive corruption, abuse of power and money-laundering of billions of dollars on 1MDB funds in various parts of the world against numerous parties would have reached their present status.
In the final analysis, it is the ordinary 32 million Malaysians, regardless of race, religion or region, who will have the pay the price for Najib and Jho Low’s grand theft and international money-laundering activities, as they would have to pay the billions of dollars of 1MDB debts, despite efforts to minimise the damage as in the announcement by the Prime Minister, Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad that Malaysia will ask the United States Government to hand over the US$1 billion in assets it had recovered from Low.
Malaysia must aim to be world-class but in achievements and fields where all Malaysians can feel proud.
We must not lose hope in the objective of Pakatan Harapan to achieve a New Malaysia which is to be a top world-class nation of unity, justice, freedom, excellence and integrity and we must be prepared to be assessed based on these goals – not to be a global kleptocracy or our ability to produce a Jho Low!