Has Jho Low been dictating Malaysia’s foreign policy in Saudi Arabia?

Media Statement by Dr. Ong Kian Ming, MP for Serdang, on the 4th of March, 2015

1MBD and Prime Minister, Dato’ Sri Najib Tun Razak has much to answer for in the wake of the recent expose by Sarawak Report[1] on the links between 1MDB, Jho Low and Najib himself. One of the many questions which require answering is whether Jho Low was allowed to use his influence to dictate Malaysia’s foreign policy in Saudi Arabia.

Prime Minister Najib made his first official visit to Saudi Arabia as PM in January 2010 (originally scheduled for December 2009) and the Sarawak Report alleges that Jho Low and his associates were working hard to ‘prepare’ for this visit.

Firstly, a close associate of Jho Low, Li Lin Seet, was alleged to have prepared a draft of a letter to be sent by Najib to then King of Saudi Arabia, King Abdullah (Appendix 1).

Secondly, Tarek Obaid, the founder of Petro Saudi, was alleged to have sent Jho Low an email on the 13th of November 2009 asking the Malaysian Prime Minister to support Saudi Arabia’s military action in Northern Yemen against a rebel group known as the Houthis (Appendix 2). A draft statement was even prepared by Mr Obaid. On the 19th of November, PM Najib issued a statement condemning the Houthis and supporting Saudi Arabia’s right to defend itself.[2]

Thirdly, Jho Low was alleged to have made arrangements for PM Najib to be interviewed by a Jamal Kashoggi (most likely the General Manager of the Al Arabiya News Channel[3]) during his official trip to Saudi Arabia. In the email shown in Sarawak Report, Wan Ahmad Shihab, a special officer to the PM, emailed Jalam Kashoggi and CCed Jho Low in order to “begin communicating with each other on preparations for the interview with the Prime Minister scheduled for December 14th, 2009.” (Appendix 3) (The trip was later changed to January 2010)

Malaysia’s foreign policy must be dictated by the best interests of Malaysian citizens. The fact that an individual or a small group of individuals can dictate the foreign policy interests of Malaysia for their own personal gain, as alleged by the Sarawak Report expose, is highly disturbing. I call upon Prime Minister Najib to give an account of these allegations as well as the other allegations raised in the Sarawak Report expose on the 28th of February, 2015.

Appendix 1: Draft of Letter Prepared by Seet Li Lin on behalf of Prime Minister Najib to be sent to King Abdullah prior to the PM’s visit in Jan 2010

His Majesty King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz al-Saud
The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

Your Majesty,

I have the honour to convey to Your Majesty the gratitude and appreciation of the Government and people of Malaysia to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, for the services extended to the Guests of Allah from Malaysia who travelled to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to perform the Haj and Umrah. Despite the public health challenges posed by the H1N1 flu situation, Your Majesty increased the Malaysian pilgrims Haj quota for the 1430H haj season by 10,000 to 38,000 pilgrims.

On the issue of Yemeni Houthis rebels and their attacks on the sovereignty of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the Government of Malaysia firmly condemns such violations. We unreservedly support the tough actions taken by Your Majesty in ensuring the security of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the GCC against such despicable acts of violence.

I will also like to congratulate Your Majesty on the inauguration of King Abdullah Science and Technology University. The unparalleled facilities and world-class faculty assembled will no doubt provide intellectual fruits and technological advancements to benefit all mankind in generations to come.

Also, Your Majesty’s pro-business development policies have greatly benefitted both the public and private sectors of Malaysia. 1MDB, a Malaysian sovereign wealth fund has formed a joint-venture with PetroSaudi International to capitalize on global investment opportunities for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Malaysia. MMC Corporation Berhad, a Malaysian company, has the privilege of partnering the Saudi Binladin Group to jointly develop and manage the new Jazan Economic City. These are just some examples of the ever-improving bilateral relationships and trade ties between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Malaysia.

Malaysia is currently developing several economic zones such as the Iskandar Development Region in Johor and the Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy and it will be interesting if I can have an audience with Your Majesty to share your wisdom on various economic policies, such as the conception of the King Abdullah Economic City, and political issues during my visit to the GCC in early next year. I can also take the opportunity to update Your Majesty on various developments that I am undertaking in Malaysia.

May Allah the Almighty continues to bestow upon Your Majesty His guidance and blessings for Your Majesty’s leadership of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in particular and the Islamic world in general.

With Respect and Best Wishes.
Dato’ Sri Mohd Najib bin tun Abdul Razak

Appendix 2: Email from Tarek Obaid to Jho Low asking the Malaysian Prime Minister to support Saudi Arabia in its military operations against the Houthis in Northern Yemen

From: “Tarek Obaid” <[email protected]> Subject: Saudi Announcement To: Low, Jho (Personal) Date: Fri, 13 Nov 2009 21:03:00 +0000

Dear Joe :-

Further to our discussion today, it would be highly appreciated if Malaysia could issue a strong statement of support to Saudi Arabia and it’s recent military operations and categorically condemn the incursions into Saudi territory of the Northern Yemeni rebel group known as the Houthis.

Please find below a draft statement that the Malaysian Prime Minister should issue in this regard.

Respectfully, Tarek

Malaysia strongly condemns the criminal acts carried out by armed men from the Houthi rebel group in North Yemen who recently crossed and infiltrated the Jizan region in Saudi Arabian territory. Malaysia firmly supports the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s actions and categorically rejects any attack against any part of Saudi Arabia. The Kingdom has the full right to defend its territories and safeguard the safety of it’s citizens. Saudi Arabia under the wise leadership of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz has a special standing in the Middle East and the wider Muslim world and it’s stability is of critical global importance.

Appendix 3: Wan Ahmad Shihab, Special Officer to PM Najib, arranging for an interview with a Jamal Kashoggi, introduced via Jho Low

Dear Sheikh Tarek, From: Wan Shihab <[email protected]> Date: Wed, 25 Nov 2009 21:34:50 +0800 To: <[email protected]> Cc: Low, Jho (Personal)<[email protected]>

Subject: Greetings and Introduction

Dear Mr. Jamal Kashoggi,

My name is Wan Ahmad Shihab and I am the Special Officer to the Prime Minister of Malaysia, the Hon. Mr. Najib Razak.

I was given your e-mail by Mr. Jho Low, so that we may begin communicating with each other on preparations for the interview with the Prime Minister scheduled for December 14th, 2009.

I am currently travelling with the Prime Minister and will return to Malaysia by December 1st, but please do not hesitate to contact me for any assistance which you may require leading up to the interview, and we will be happy assist you in whatever way we can.

Please find below all of my contact details should you need to reach me at any time.

I look forward to hearing from you. Thank you.

— Wan Ahmad Shihab Ismail Special Officer to the Prime Minister Level 4, Prime Minister’s Office Perdana Putra 62502 Putrajaya Malaysia

Office: +603 8888 1433 Mobile 1: +6019 2633 488 Mobile 2: :+60193137047

Official e-mail: [email protected]

[1] All the emails referenced to in this press statement can be found here: http://www.sarawakreport.org/2015/02/managing-the-media-and-then-foreign-policy-how-jho-low-took-over/

[2] http://www.pmo.gov.my/home.php?menu=news&news_id=782&news_cat=4&page=1729&sort_year=2009&sort_month=

[3] http://english.alarabiya.net/authors/Jamal-Khashoggi.html