Mahathir says unaware of Jho Low's alleged arrest

KUALA LUMPUR: Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said today that he is unaware of reports that wanted business man Low Taek Jho or Jho Low has been arrested in China.

"I am not aware of this, but I hope he is arrested and brought back to Malaysia," he said when met by media at the Parliament session.

He said this is the first time he heard about Low's arrest after he was asked by the media about it.

"This is the first I've heard of his arrest, you seem to be better informed than the Prime Minister of Malaysia," he quipped.

"All I know is that he is jumping from place to place to avoid arrest. If it is true that he has been arrested, we must find out what for by the Chinese authorities," he said.

He added that although Malaysia has no extradition treaty with China, if he is arrested, Malaysia can make a request to hand him over to Malaysian authorities.

On Wednesday, Sarawak Report quoted an unnamed Hong Kong radio station as claiming that Chinese authorities have detained the Penang-born businessperson.

On July 11, South China Morning Post said Low had fled to mainland China from Macau, either by car or by a private jet.

Prior to that, the 37-year-old businessperson had run to Macau as Malaysian police closed in on him in Hong Kong.

The US Department of Justice (DOJ) had claimed in its civil forfeiture suits that the businessperson was involved in multiple instances where 1MDB funds were allegedly misappropriated.

Mahathir said that Council of Eminent Persons (CEP) head Tun Daim Zainuddin is in China to renegotiate contracts and deals Malaysia has made with the Chinese.

"What he's trying to do is to renegotiate the loans and contracts we have made with Chinese companies, because we find that they're costly and part of the money is not really needed," he said.

Meanwhile, Mahathir reiterated that the highly controversial KL-Singapore High Speed Rail (HSR) project has been postponed and not scrapped.

He cited high costs as a major factor in the postponement and added that the cost of the rail needs to be reduced.

"At the moment when we look at the finances in the country, we thought we couldn't go ahead with that. But having studied it, studied the contract with Singapore and the cost of it, we decided that maybe we may have to do it at a later date or reduce the price but the reduction of the price is very difficult," he said at a press conference at the Parliament lobby today.

He also informed that Economic Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Azmin Ali will be going to Singapore to relay Malaysia's stand on the matter.

"Singapore wants to know our stand on the rail so Azmin is going there to meet with them," he said.

Mahathir had in his first month in office initially said that the HSR would be scrapped, before cabinet decided to put it on hold instead.

The Pakatan Harapan government claimed that the HSR would cost RM110 billion, compared to the RM74 billion estimated by the previous BN administration.