A ‘wanted’ bulletin titillates but is at ominous notice?

How Clare Rewcastle Brown Uncovered Malaysia's 1MDB Scandal | Time
Photo: Time Magazine

The movement control order (MCO) imposed in March last year saw the end of live shows. Musicians and stand-up comedians including Jason Leong, Harith Iskander, Alan Perera and the like resorted to online rib-tickling episodes with their wit and humour.

Now, unwittingly and perhaps inadvertently, the police have joined in providing “fun” but not the much-needed comic relief.

Malaysians have been amused by a public appeal – complete with a “wanted” poster – for information on the Sarawak Report editor Clare Rewcastle-Brown, following an arrest warrant issued against her in September.

I am amused because she was in the news two days ago. If the police aren’t already aware, she is in London and by referring to recent media reports, they would have confirmed her location.

On Tuesday, she spoke at a virtual forum hosted by the Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ), Freedom Film Network (FFN) and Gerakan Media Merdeka (Geramm) in conjunction with the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists.

Last night, she declared that the police had previously texted her directly and the authorities knew “all there is to know”, including details of her whereabouts.

This was after Bukit Aman CID chief Abd Jalil Hassan’s appeal to the public for information on Rewcastle-Brown, who had failed to appear in court to face a charge of defaming Sultanah Nur Zahirah of Terengganu.

“If they hope someone will ring up with dirt about me, they will be disappointed as I live a very boring but happy life. They should focus on crooks who are stealing from Malaysia. So, they could pick up the phone and call me, and I can inform them,” she was quoted as saying.

Then, the question to be asked is: Why all this charade? Do the police expect ordinary Malaysians to know her whereabouts or is it for other plausible reasons?

It is common knowledge that she is based in London and there’s little those sitting 10,000km away in Malaysia can offer.

She is neither in the local speaking circuit nor is she anywhere in the region. If the police had been resourceful, they would have gotten all the details in the court documents she filed in her defence against a suit brought by PAS leader Abdul Hadi Awang.

Last night, she also gave her itinerary to Malaysiakini – moderating a seminar on the “timber mafia” on Monday at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow; attending a press freedom event in London on Nov 21 and attending another event at the UK Parliament the following week where she will also be discussing press freedom.

So, will a team of officers be jumping on the next flight to London considering the importance and urgency paid to know her whereabouts?

Then, we also have to ask if we are getting our laughs in instalments to tickle our funny bones?

What about the known crooks?

One, two days ago, Jalil insisted the police will continue pursuing the extradition of transgender entrepreneur Nur Sajat Kamaruzzaman, despite the latter being granted asylum in Australia.
Is it an exercise in futility? The Australian government has granted her asylum and that is the end of the matter.

By the way, cross-dressing and religious offences matter little when such requests are made.

But then, the relationship between the police of Malaysia and Australia is not exactly top-notch.

Remember the case of the police officer who was suspected of being involved in money laundering and forfeited almost RM1 million in an Australian bank?

One of Malaysia’s highest ranking police officers forfeited A$320,000 (about RM1 million) by the Australian Federal Police (AFP), which suspected his Sydney bank account held laundered money or proceeds of crime.

Wan Ahmad Najmuddin Mohd claimed the money was proceeds from the sale of a house but did not explain the flurry of suspicious cash deposits. Unknown depositors visited branches and ATMs around Australia and deposited cash in small amounts.

But the million ringgit question is: After all these years, why hasn’t such a bulletin been issued for the most wanted man – Low Taek Jho, better known as Jho Low, who is wanted for stealing billions of ringgit from Malaysians?

Why have there been no similar bulletins for his accomplices Casey Tang and Jasmine Looi? Ditto for other 1MDB officials who are in hiding.

It has been more than seven months since a 33-year-old who is wanted for organised crime, money laundering, Macau scams and commercial crime cases escaped a police dragnet. Nicky Liow is still missing although about 70 of his associates, including police officers, were rounded up.

Then, police have yet to locate Muhammad Riduan Abdullah, who has an arrest warrant issued by the High Court in 2014. He is being sought after having unlawfully taken away his daughter from the lawful custody of her mother.

So, is it the season for more such “wanted” posters and bulletins or have some sections of the population been made to believe that “foreign villains” are trying to destroy Malaysia?

This was the mantra sung at the height of the revelations of the 1MDB scandal and almost succeeded until the can of worms was opened.

R NADESWARAN is tickled yet surprised over the turn of events and wonders if it is a precursor to the bad old days.

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