Whether you’re young or old, rich or poor, Malay, Chinese, or Indian, every Malaysian knows the name Jho Low.
The former financier tycoon was called the “mastermind” of the 1MDB scandal by the public before he disappeared to an unknown location for many years.
One of the main goals of the newly elected Pakatan Harapan government has been getting Low back to Malaysia and the chief of police set locating Low’s whereabouts as his top priority.
So, it makes sense that the breaking news of a settlement reached between the US government and Low has come as a shock.
Moreover, it has been made public that not only is this not an admission of guilt, but Low has allegedly been granted asylum and is roaming freely in the Middle East.
The settlement includes the dropping of all civil and criminal charges against Low in exchange for nearly US$1 billion (RM4.18 billion). The Malaysian government must take this opportunity to decisively approach the US to receive its share of the proceeds.
It marks a great victory for the US as this kind of agreement benefits them economically and avoids the long, drawn-out and resource-draining alternatives.
It was also hailed by Bloomberg as a significant win for the Justice Department’s Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative which was set up specifically to prevent the US from becoming a safe haven of stolen proceeds.
However, the news is sure to bring about mixed feelings in Malaysia.
On one hand, it is bound to be frustrating for many who wish to see Low brought to justice and desire his return to Malaysia and for him to stand trial.
But, looking past that, the agreement is largely beneficial to Malaysia in the long run, it all depends on how our government handles it.
The funds received by the US as a result of this deal will undoubtedly be largely repatriated to Malaysia. Considering the immense debt left by 1MDB, this is vital for the economy and for moving forward towards a New Malaysia.
It also gives us the resources needed to continue the ongoing Datuk Seri Najib Razak trial, and the opportunity to start a dialogue with Low.
Such a dialogue will undoubtedly aid in the Najib prosecution process and in reaching a settlement with Goldman Sachs.
We can only wait and see whether the Malaysian government will put the Jho Low resentment aside, respect international law that is slowly but surely granting Low asylum, and finally close the 1MDB chapter for good. – MMO
This is the personal opinion of the writer, Tarak Singh.