Malaysia eyes legal shakeup to bust corruption

The Malaysian government has been called to make major legislative reform to ensure former prime minister Najib Najib’s alleged embezzlement is never repeated.

The government’s chief anti-corruption adviser Abu Kassim Mohamed praised improvements since last year’s general election.

Malaysia has climbed five places in the Rule of Law Index by the World Justice Project since Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad returned to office last May.

Malaysia’s National Centre for Governance, Integrity and Anti-Corruption is calling for tighter laws to ensure politicians cannot sack graft investigators.

Abu Kassim, who is the body’s director general, said that in 2015, Najib sacked the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission deputy chief, attorney general, Special Branch chief and four ministers who questioned his role in in the 1MDB scandal.

“We are looking into amending the constitution so that in the future, appointments of very important positions … are done by a parliamentary select committee,” Abu Kassim said.

Another proposal is to split the role of the chief prosecutor and the attorney general, who currently acts as the government’s principal legal adviser and prosecutor.

Fugitive financier

The authorities say they have located fugitive financier Low Taek Jho and are encouraging him to return to face justice. 

Malaysia’s police chief Abdul Hamid Bador said: “We know where Jho Low and his friends are hiding and police are making use of all available resources, including working with the authorities overseas to track down Jho Low. 

“There are laws in Malaysia, come back if you are innocent and do not use lawyers to make statements or denials,” he said.

“[Jho Low and his colleagues] can come back with the best lawyers to defend them … don’t waste our time, they cannot run forever.” 

The police chief promised that Low would not be tortured, a rather low bar for a human rights point of view. 

“I can guarantee his safety … All of these stories saying he would be tortured if he comes back are nonsense because we uphold the rule of law.”

Abdul Hamid also said there would be no undercover raid to seize the former financier. 

Jho Low is the main target in the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) scandal, apart from Najib. He was believed to be hiding on an island near Macau.

US prosecutors estimate that US$4.5 billion was stolen from 1MDB, which was founded in 2009 by Najib, who chaired the scandal-ridden sovereign wealth fund.

This week’s raid on audit firm Deloitte Malaysia was to gather documents on 1MDB embezzlement, Abdul Hamid, who took the job this month. 

He said he was prioritising the 1MDB case.


Is the fugitive financier Low Taek Jho hiding near Macau? Picture credit: Flickr