KUALA LUMPUR - A group of Malaysian youth activists held an anti-kleptocracy rally in central Kuala Lumpur on Saturday (April 14), after defying police orders to disperse.
About 500 people attended the 2 pm rally at the Sogo shopping mall that called for the arrest of Malaysian financier Low Taek Jho - better known as Jho Low - and "thieves" linked to the financial scandal at state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).
Holding placards reading "Save Malaysia, Arrest Thieves", mock posters of Jho Low as a pirate, with an effigy of American socialite Paris Hilton, the group sang songs and urged Malaysians to vote at the upcoming general elections on May 9.
"Arrest Jho Low!" chanted the crowd, which was given time to protest but not allowed by police to march.
Mr Low, a businessman and former unofficial adviser to 1MDB, has been linked to the money-laundering scandal where billions were allegedly misappropriated from the state fund and spent across continents on luxury properties, lavish parties graced by celebrities like Ms Hilton, and valuable art pieces by Vincent Van Gogh and Claude Monet.
"Youths need to rise up," said Mohamad Sabu, who heads Parti Amanah Negara, part of the Pakatan Harapan opposition pact.
“After May 9, we’ll take over the government. And we will order the arrests of Jho Low and MO1,” said Mr Sabu, referring to the "Malaysian Official 1" moniker used by the US Department of Justice (DOJ) in its 2016 civil suit to recover assets and monies it says was stolen from 1MDB. MO1 refers to Prime Minister Najib Razak.
Mr Low is believed to be a close friend of Riza Aziz, the stepson of Datuk Seri Najib. The prime minister has been cleared of any wrongdoing by Malaysian authorities after US$700 million was found in his personal accounts, funds he said were a donation from the Saudi royal family and not linked to 1MDB.
Mr Sabu addressed the crowd from the back of a truck decorated to look like the mega yacht Equanimity, which allegedly belongs to Mr Low.
The US$250 million (S$328 million) yacht was seized by Indonesian authorities in February, as part of the assets sought by the DOJ in its civil forfeiture suit. US attorney-general Jeff Sessions had in December described the 1MDB scandal as "kleptocracy at its worst".
At the end of the two-hour gathering, the activists who called themselves "Anak Muda Cari Jho Low" (Young People Seeking Jho Low) handed a memorandum to the police requesting the Malaysian authorities to seek and arrest Mr Low.