Matters of opinion that enables me to understand or make some sense of my country- Malaysia

Managing The Media And Then Foreign Policy – How Jho Low Took Over!


After Jho Low and his partners from PetroSaudi had completed the 1MDB deal,

the management of public perceptions about what had happened clearly became crucial.

The joint venture buccaneers can soon be seen to have started to wield the most extraordinary influence over the presentation of 1MDB and then even the management of Malaysia/Saudi relations, through their manipulation of their alleged contacts through PetroSaudi boss Tarek Obaid and his largely inactive partner, Prince Turki.

Jho Low had already played shamelessly on Prince Turki’s connections to give the impression to 1MDB that the joint venture was linked with state to state relations, implying that he was acting on behalf of the Prime Minister of Malaysia and the father of the Saudi Prince, King Abdullah.

This is what he wrote to 1MDB CEO Shahrol Halmi on Sept 18th, introducing him to PetroSaudi executives

“I am pleased to confirm as per YAB Prime Minister’s discussions with HM King Abdullah Al-Saud on furthering Saudi-Malaysia bi-lateral ties, together with YAB PM’s discussions with HRH Prince Turki Al-Saud, PetroSaudi and 1MDB is on track with respect to your USd2.5b JVC partnership. “

This impression was also played up to the press at the launch of the deal, although the partners at PetroSaudi showed themselves notably anxious to avoid as much publicity as possible.

As PetroSaudi Director Patrick Mahony had put it to CEO Shahrol Halmi on Sept 21st:

“With regard to liaising with Robert [press advisor] on what we can release to the media, I will be the point person. I would suggest you send to me a draft of what you would like to release and we will let you know if it works for us. PSI is very press shy and usually never announces our investments (one of the main reasons governments like to work with us) but we understand you will need to make some statements and we would be happy to make them jointly with you.”

However, on the day of the deal, Halmi warned the team at PetroSaudi in an email that, despite their reluctance to involve Prince Turki, the Prime Minister had insisted on a “quote” from the Prince to make it appear that the Government of Saudi Arabia was involved in the private deal.

Interestingly, both sets of collaborators were not keen on the matter being played up to the international press, they just wanted to foster the concept of Saudi investment for local consumption.

From: Shahrol @ Hotmail []
Sent: Tuesday, 29 September, 2009 4:36 PM
To: Patrick Mahony
Cc: Casey Tang; Robert Ho
Subject: joint press release
Importance: High

Hi Patrick, can you help take a look and see if this is ok? The PM insisted on the quote from HRH Prince Turki and the equity figures. This statement is going to be released only to the local media, but there is no guarantee that the wire services won ’t pick it up. Planning to send this out late morning tomorrow, Malaysia time.

Show email

In response, PetroSaudi Director Patrick Mahony warned his own team (and his boss Rick Haythornewaite) to say nothing to journalists and to indicate to ‘bhe’ [Buried Hill Enterprises] that the deal was about waste management.

Buried Hill was the company which actually owned the Caspian Sea concession on which PetroSaudi had based its vastly inflated valuation. Perhaps it can be concluded that Buried Hill were unaware on how this association had been played up to the Malaysians?

” If any journalists ask, it is no comment. If bhe asks us, please say this jv is more around our waste management business and other areas of interest. Main point is to not comment to media and not say anything about numbers. Many thanks  [Patrick Mahoney to his team – Sept 30 2009]

Visit to Saudi Arabia January 2010

As part of the image building around this joint venture, Jho Low can soon be seen getting stuck into arrangements surrounding the January 2010 visit to Saudi Arabia by Najib Razak and his wife Rosmah.

Far from the “zero involvement” claimed, Jho Low can be seen to have been in the thick of these negotiations, making key initial introductions regarding this country to country diplomatic venture and putting the PM’s office in touch with the King’s staff via his contact with Tarek Obaid.

What was the Embassy up to?

Email correspondence even shows that Jho Low composed a letter on the 19th November 2010 on behalf of Najib Razak to be sent to the King. The ever helpful Li Lin Seet drew up the draft, while the entrepreneur involved himself in the timings of the arrangements:

Fyi attached. Comments pls.
Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

Date: Thu, 19 Nov 2009 00:20:36
To: Jho Low (gmail)<>

Subject: Emailing: Letter to KSA v2.docx

Change mid-dec to early next year

It seems that such was the youthful entrepreneur’s influence that he had gone from determining economic policy to foreign policy – and he had got in a handy plug for his other master Taib Mahmud and his pet SCORE plan as well!

The Malaysian PM, naturally, did achieve a meeting with the Saudi Arabian leadership. But, it had nothing to do with the PetroSaudi joint venture, although the Malaysian press continued to be spun the impression it was.

Conspiracy to defame Anwar?

From: Low Jho

To: Tarek Al-Obaid

Date: Sat, 26 Dec 2009 12:26:39 +0000


VERY PNC NOTE, delete post reading:

From MDM:

This is a very “focused & effective” trip. Objective is not MOU or general business ties.

Specific that PM is seeing the 3 highest levels in Saudis (one on one) being the King, Crown Prince and Prince Naif while First Lady sees the Queen and Crown Princess to build “effective ties”.

One on one discussions ensure “more open and frank discussions” to enhance “personal

Intriguingly, just in advance of the meeting, Jho Low sent a ‘Very Private and Confidential Note” to Tarek Obaid about the meeting, purporting to have been speaking to “Mdm”.

Given Jho Low’s close relations to his friend Riza’s mother, there will be speculation that the message reflects the wife of the Prime Minister’s agenda for the visit………

From: Low Jho

To: Tarek Al-Obaid

Date: Sat, 26 Dec 2009 12:26:39 +0000


VERY PNC NOTE, delete post reading:

From MDM:

This is a very “focused & effective” trip. Objective is not MOU or general business ties.

Specific that PM is seeing the 3 highest levels in Saudis (one on one) being the King, Crown Prince and Prince Naif while First Lady sees the Queen and Crown Princess to build “effective ties”.

One on one discussions ensure “more open and frank discussions” to enhance “personal ties”. That is most important.

Will encourage Saudis to use words like “personal”, “trust”, “friendship”, “bond”, “ties”, etc… You get the gist of it. – the objective of visit is so that when PM is done with this visit:

a. Top 3 leaders in Saudi knows that PM is a trusted ally and someone they can pick up the phone and chat to re anything in Asia and beyond

b. Malaysians will realise from King Abdullah’s statements that it is a very personal relationship with PM and things happen because of that personal trust (award further substantiates that)

c. Quietly, Anwar is full of lies and for all those that believe Anwar has strong ties with the top leadership with Saudi, that is complete nonsense and people will tell over time he is a complete liar and lose all sense of credibility in Middle-East (his only last stand left beyond usa). If senior leadership in Saudi and Abu Dhabi make it quietly known to their friends in the gulf re their views on Anwar, he is history and even key business supporters will stay away from him knowing the position of the big boys.


In which case, the references to the opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, who is now controversially languishing in jail, are particularly significant. Because, “Mdm” was clearly fearful and jealous of Anwar’s perceived influence in the Middle East and wanted him crushed.

Following this meeting there were numerous reports in the Malaysian press implying that Saudi Arabia and Malaysia were building ties and that the joint venture with PetroSaudi was involved.

Procuring Malaysian support for Saudi attacks on Yemen

Meanwhile, the increasingly wealthy and influential Jho Low was also apparently setting about doing diplomatic favours in the other direction.

In November 2009, Saudi Director of PetroSaudi, Tarek Obaid, whose brother is senior in the Saudi Governement, was asking Jho to organise a diplomatic favour after the Saudis had launched controversial attacks into North Yemen:

From: “Tarek Obaid” <>
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.


Show email

 Six days later it appears that Jho Low was able to deliver:

Fixed by Jho Low for Tarek - Malaysian solidarity for Saudi Arabia's attacks on North Yemen

By this time, of course, the fun loving young billionaire’s influence was assured as the key contact man between Najib, Rosmah and the Middle East.

In the wake of their handsome joint venture deal the PetroSaudi team hired one of the most expensive yachts in the world for a jaunt in the Mediterranean – and who should they invite and entertain for a week that summer on the Tatoosh, but the Prime Minister of Malaysia and his wife?

The Tatoosh rents for half a million dollars a week - Jho Low attracted press attention by inviting Paris Hilton on board in 2010

Naturally, Tarek’s well-connected friend, the founder of PetroSaudi, son of the then King of Saudi Arabia was also there.

Reportedly, there have been further Mediterranean cruises of this nature between Jho Low, Rosmah and Najib, the last being last summer when the couple controversially chose a charged political moment during the disappearance of the jet MH 370 to leave Malaysia and enjoy the sundeck instead with their now close friend Jho Low and his Saudi contacts.

Tony Blair connection

Another key target of Jho Low and PetroSaudi’s diplomatic offensive appears to have been former prime minister Tony Blair.

In the wake of the joint venture deal PetroSaudi hired Blair as a consultant and also as a valuable PR protection for the deal – a connection that has been widely used to try and sway public opinion:

Front man? Tony Blair's failure to check out PetroSaudi and his cash for access offers have landed him with more criticism this week in the UK

His association with PetroSaudi on a retainer of $65,000 a month and his offers to negotiate deals for the company with Chinese investors and to make introductions for PetroSaudi threatens to land the ex-PM in the latest round in the UK’s on-going ‘Cash for Access’ scandal.

Malaysians might say that the billion dollar scandal surrounding 1MDB make “cash for access” a minor problem by comparison.ils


full report and details of emails



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