M'sia has no diplomatic authority to demand Jho Low from China, says Haniff Khatri

05 Jun 2023 07:30am
Haniff Khatri (left) and Jho Low
Haniff Khatri (left) and Jho Low
SHAH ALAM - Malaysia does not have any diplomatic authority to demand China to extradite fugitive businessman, Low Taek Jho, or commonly known as Jho Low to face prosecution in the country if allegations of him being in that republic were true.

Lawyer Haniff Khatri Abdulla said this is because, according to international criminal law, Malaysia can only make a request to China but cannot force the country to 'comply' with the request.

"Although Malaysia has said it will cooperate with Interpol, it is still subject to the discretion of the Chinese government if they want to extradite Jho Low back to Malaysia or not (if it is confirmed that he is in China).

"We do not have the power to force China. Therefore, in addressing this issue, we need to set aside international laws for now. This is because in this issue, it also depends on the diplomatic ties between Malaysia and China," he told Sinar.

He said this in response to the statement by 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) scandal whistleblower, Xavier Justo, that China is unlikely to allow Jho Low to return to Malaysia.

According to the co-author of "Billion Dollar Whale," Bradley Hope he had reported that Jho Low is believed to be under house arrest in Shanghai, China.

Haniff said the country is facing a difficult situation to bring back Jho Low.

"In my opinion, 85 per cent of this matter is related to diplomatic relations and Malaysia's standing in the eyes of the world. It determines how much respect the world has for us."

"If foreign countries see Malaysia as a strong and beneficial nation, they may be willing to cooperate.
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"But if this is not the case, then I believe it will be difficult for Jho Low to be released by China. I think China may have an interest in "keeping" Jho Low," he added.

Furthermore, Haniff Khatri added that Jho Low might be holding some secrets that involves major companies in China.

He further claimed Jho Low may have served as an intermediary for these companies, which involved in programmes that may have caused harm during the administration of Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.

"If he returns to Malaysia, there is a possibility that other wrongdoings will come to light. So why would they want to release him? This also involves China's interests, so let's say the People's Republic wants to take action against Jho Low according to their laws, I believe they will do so internally at a later time," added Haniff Khatri.

Furthermore, he said it is difficult for Malaysia to confront China's power and strength to bring Jho Low back. "How can we exert pressure on a country as powerful as China, which is now considered one of the world's economic powers?" he said.

Previously, Jho Low was charged in Malaysia and the United States with allegations of masterminding the misappropriation of US$4.5 billion from the 1MDB fund.

On May 30, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) reportedly said that they believed Jho Low was hiding in Macau.

According to Al Jazeera's report, MACC said that several individuals had seen Jho Low in Macau.

On the other hand, Bradley Hope, co-author of the book on the 1MDB scandal, expressed a different view, stating that he believed Jho Low was under house arrest in Shanghai. Hope also claimed that China had detained Jho Low following negotiations with Malaysia.