CHASING A LITTLE SLICE OF HEAVEN IN SINGAPORE

Fiber: edible wood-pulp said to aid digestion and prolong life, so that we might live for another six or eight years in which to consume more wood-pulp –  Writer and humorist Robert Benchley 

“It ain’t the heat,” baseball player Yogi “Malaprop” Berra used to fret, “it’s the humility I can’t stand.”

Raisa knows the feeling. 

She came to Singapore two weeks ago and, for someone born and brought up in equatorial Malaysia, began seriously perspiring the minute she stepped out of the airport. Being an island, the city-state is far more humid than Kuala Lumpur and almost three years of life in Europe had caught my daughter off-guard. 

But she became accustomed to the weather in short order and wanted to eat the stuff of her childhood, generally unattainable in Amsterdam but easily available in Singapore, give or take some differences. 

We sampled durian and mangosteens along the roadside in Geylang, tried chili and pepper crab in a restaurant on the East Coast, munched roti-chanai (called, rather grandly, paratha here) and chicken rice near Orchard, and tasted what the island tries to pass off as Hokkien mee in Tanglin.  

Meanwhile, I found out there is no such thing as Singapore fried meehoon in Singapore.  Go figure.

But Raisa had heard that the city boasted a certain famous restaurant and wanted to eat at Spago because she never had. Neither Rebecca nor I knew of its existence in Singapore. Apparently, we didn’t move in those circles! We Googled the place and finally secured a reservation ten days later. 

It was certainly grand enough, located as it was on the 57th floor of one of the towers of the Marina Bay Sands. Raisa asked Das, a knowledgeable waiter from Johor Baru, what was good, and he replied: “Everything.”

But Das let it slip that English chef Gordon Ramsey had come in some months ago and, having ordered the laksa with bream, had subsequently raved about it to anyone who would listen. 

Of course, Raisa had to have the laksa. Becky had duck breast, which smelt heavenly, and I ordered the wasabi-infused black cod.

My fish was melt-in-the-mouth gorgeous and good enough to convert the vegetarian. Becca reported that the duck was similarly divine. 

Spago, it appeared, was the creation of one Wolfgang Puck, an Austrian American who was, after Julia Child, the first, genuine celebrity-chef. Like Child, he was a television personality but, unlike her, was also an entrepreneur with a brand of frozen pizza and, at one point, 63 restaurants spanning the US and extending from Shanghai and Tokyo to Singapore and Sydney.  

Before Wolfgang, American cuisine was humdrum, non-existent and boasted Chinese takeaway at its zenith.

Haute cuisine’s philosophy at the time might be distilled into a solitary sentence: if it looked like a duck, sounded like a duck and smelt like a duck, it probably needed a little more time in the microwave.

Wolfgang changed all that. He made cooking a sought after, even glamorous, profession and brought respectability and better pay to a job long regarded as a necessary, if thankless, one. It brought with it a certain grandeur to the experience of dining out.  

And we probably have him, now 70-plus, to thank for the ever-present cooking show – Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, for example – we now catch on television. 

Raisa flies back tonight. But she goes home happy.  

ENDS

INSTANT KARMA CAN, AND WILL, GET YOU

We are all born ignorant, but one must work hard to remain stupid. – Benjamin Franklin

There are reasons why people come up with sayings like “people who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.” Dr Afifi al-Akiti might be contemplating life somewhat ruefully right now. A video of the religious adviser to the Perak Sultan being present in a Kuala Lumpur nightspot surfaced on Twitter recently and it’s sparked a buzz over social media, with phrases like “forbidden fun” among the more charitable descriptions being bandied about.

The gentleman, wearing a baseball cap, is seen air-drumming along to a rock tune being played by a band on-stage. Meanwhile, a lady seated next to him is seen nodding her head in time to the music.

That’s about it and nothing much to shout about otherwise. Unless, of course, you want to quibble and mention that such places are generally the ones frowned upon by Malaysia’s Moral Majority, those holier-than-thou purveyors of piety who routinely vilify such nightspots as “immoral” where Muslims are concerned.

And this is exactly where the situation begins to turn ridiculous. Reason: one Ustaz Husam has rushed to the adviser’s defence, claiming that the good doctor was merely there to distribute pamphlets about Islam.

In short, would you believe he was proselytising in a nightclub? In a home where the buffalo roam, and the beer and the loud rock bands play?

Maybe it’s not as weak as the old “the dog ate my homework” ploy but methinks many people would beg to differ.

Ridiculous excuses have been going on for millennia. Take, for example, the reasons sportsmen come up with when they are caught for doping.

Czech lefty Petr Korda, once ranked number two in the tennis world, attributed his fondness for veal, especially those injected with steroids, as the reason for his failure in a 1998 dope test.

But dope, or its measure at least, is an exact science. To match the amount of steroid in his system, the science showed that he would have had to eat 40 calves every day for 20 years!

Then there was US sprinter Dennis Mitchell’s “too much sex” explanation. Caught in 1998 for high levels of testosterone, Mitchell explained he’d had sex “four times” with his wife the night before the test.

The US athletic body accepted his explanation but the international association wasn’t buying. While sex does increase the hormone’s levels, it would not reach the dizzying levels it actually did in Mitchell’s system.

He got banned for two years.

And this, from Michael Blodkin, a New Yorker pulled over for recklessness: “I wasn’t driving dangerously. I was just swerving to the music.”

And, finally, this ironic blow to hypocrisy. Former Republican Senator Larry Craig – who has a history of supporting stridently anti-gay policies – was arrested by a plain-clothes policeman for attempting to solicit sex in an airport toilet. After initially pleading guilty, Craig quickly backtracked when the story gained public traction and claimed he merely adopted “a wide stance when going to the bathroom.”
Now, would that have sounded reasonable to Ustaz Husam?

ENDS

s

THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING CONNECTED

The very rich have no need of character – Hebrew proverb

Jho “Felonious” Low thought character was overrated anyway so he concentrated on keeping the police in Macao happy so everybody there could continue to live happily ever after.

His wife, the low-profile, Mrs Felonious didn’t want too much out of life either. All she’d wanted was a husband who was kind and understanding which she didn’t think was asking too much of a billionaire.

Felonious thought The Way Forward lay in living as quietly and as low-profile as possible which is Evading Capture 101 for all criminal masterminds on the run.

That was why he was now scanning the papers with a furrowed brow. Even his cigar remained in hand, unlit.

The object of the stout scalawag’s consternation was a report that the Malaysian King had invited Fearless Leader, a former co-worker and helpmate of Felonious, to break the Ramadan fast at the Palace. It seemed as appropriate as inviting Tim Leisner to address the World Economic Forum.

Even so, there they all were, cheerfully breaking the fast together. The pictures have since been posted on the Net. And there has been no lack of comment!

Fearless seems oblivious to public perception which is strange and uncharacteristic of the veteran politician that he obviously is. Or perhaps he’s cynical enough to understand the truth behind the Phyllis Diller quip: “Those who have money to burn are often surrounded by people with matches.”

But there is another quote that seems more germane to this issue: “The poor and ignorant will continue to lie and steal so long as the rich and educated show them how.” Alas, I can’t remember its author, but it does seem to fit.

Fearless was found guilty by two consecutive courts of abuse of power, criminal breach of trust and money laundering, and faces a 12-year sentence pending a final appeal to the Federal Court. Meanwhile, he faces other, equally daunting, charges including one for evading taxes of over RM1 billion. We should also keep in mind the media’s description of the fraud at 1MDB as the “greatest theft in human history.”

But he remains free on bail, enjoys all the perks of an ex-premier including outriders, and traipses all over the country, campaigning, speaking, and having dinners. This is in stark contrast to the treatment meted out to former deputy premier Anwar Ibrahim: he was denied bail at the outset for a crime many other countries do not even recognise.

Meanwhile, the Fearless precedent is already taking root. A Kelantan farmer facing jail time for committing grievous bodily harm was given bail after he cited Fearless’ precedent of remaining free despite convictions by two courts.

Viewed in its broader context, the Dinner at the Palace is perplexing to say the least. The signal it sends out is downright appalling as it seems to suggest that criminality can be condoned in certain circumstance.

Felonious sat up with a jerk as he pondered these significant portents. There was a moral to this story somewhere and he thought he knew the answer.

Life was just a breathing spell, and it was better to live rich than die rich.

ENDS

OF EPIPHANIES, SALAD DAYS AND EELS

It’s not well known but some famous dishes are a result of epiphanies, or moments of sudden revelation that lead to profundity.

Example: most people know about Julius Caesar. That he was a Roman Emperor, and that he was the first gynaecologist (the Caesarean), etc.

But not many know the salad that still bears his name, arose from an epiphany JC experienced around 54 BC.

He was striding angrily across the parade grounds to berate a recumbent Cicero when he stopped, transfixed: he’d just spotted a hen gazing at some lettuce and a tomato.

A lesser, more superstitious man – “something fowl this way comes” – might have screamed for salt to toss over his left shoulder. A religious man – “lettuce pray” – might have been moved to piety.

Not JC, he immediately grasped the significance implicit in a Chicken Sees A Salad.

Some additions later – cheese, fruit and capers – and a now-awake Cicero recorded history’s first Caesar salad.

Similarly, when Emperor Sujin occupied the Chrysanthemum Throne, eels were a menace. There were simply too many of the yucky pests around. It was, to be sure, an eel wind that made no one eel-ated.

“Will no one rid me of this troublesome beast?” mused the Emperor. It was a question that had some relevance in 16th Century England but More of that later.

Surrounded by mirin, sake, sugar and soy sauce in his kitchen, the failed chef Matsumo Unagi was smoking a moody cigarette and contemplating suicide when a moray eel suddenly flopped out of the pond behind him.

A weaker man might have swigged the wine, the better to calm his nerves. A vengeful man would have stabbed the beast in rage.

But Matsumo was made of sterner stuff so he did both. He sipped the wine and sliced and diced the creature. In mounting rage, he then grilled it to perfection in a concentrated marinade of the spirits, sugar and soy sauce.

The resulting transcendence pleased Emperor Sujin no end and the chef was declared a National Treasure before lending his name to a dish forever synonymous with Dean Martin’s version of love (“That’s Amore”).

Unfortunately, it’s become a victim of its own success: eels are fast diminishing in Asia.

Enter desperate remedies.

Dutch border police arrested three Malaysians Thursday for attempting to smuggle thousands of baby eels through Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport.

The police got suspicious after the rocket scientists tried to take eight large suitcases through airport security. No one, it seems, told them anything about X-ray scanners,

“Inside the cases were bags with water and baby eels,” the Dutch food and goods watchdog said. Indeed, the inspectors discovered 105 kilograms of glass eels. That’s around 300,000 eels, enough unagi to keep three score and ten Japanese restaurants busy for three days.

Maybe they were following set examples. Many a Malaysian leader had been found wallowing in corruption like a rhinoceros in an African pool so, mindful of precedent, the three may have simply tried Dutch rivers.

Over the last four decades, critically endangered European eel populations have been devastated, falling by as much as 99% in some areas, according to EU figures.

Young transparent eels, known as “glass eels,” are particularly prized in Asia, where they are fattened in farms before being sold at prices in excess of caviar’s.

It would have brought a tear to Matsumo’s eyes.

And, on that note, Happy Easter everyone.

ENDS

THE UNBEARABLE LIGHTNESS OF BEING PAS

I’m an atheist…thank God – Comedian Dave Allen

Who knew that Malaysia’s counter-terrorism chief Normah Ishak had a dry sense of humour?

Take this statement for instance: “The recognition by an Islamic party for the Taliban’s struggle augurs well for fans of terrorism in Malaysia,” Normah was quoted as saying in a recent webinar on Afghanistan.

The counter-terrorism chief was talking about that group of people who know an awful lot about very little – the Islamic Party of Malaysia, or Pas. More specifically, she was referring to Pas’ admiration for, and recognition of, the Taliban government of Afghanistan.

The party was, apparently, banking on the Taliban to improve its Islamic image. Its head of International Affairs Abdul Khalil Hadi had tweeted his party’s congratulations to the Taliban after the hard-line group had taken over Kabul in August.

Khalil is PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang’s son, which reinforces the notion of the apple not falling far from the tree.

True enough, the father echoed the son’s sentiments two weeks later. In a statement published in the party’s organ Harakah on August 25, Hadi claimed that the Taliban’s leaders had “changed” and were heading in the right direction.

He also urged Muslims not to be influenced by the coverage of the Taliban by the Western media, which he described as “evil”.

Normah explained the method behind Pas’ madness. “They are creating narratives to the party’s advantage, forming opinions and perceptions among Muslims in Malaysia, so that they will think the Taliban are okay now,” Normah said.

To paraphrase her, “fans of terrorism” will undoubtedly be dancing in the aisles. People who think that the danger of terrorism in Malaysia is much exaggerated should think again.

Three years ago, I was invited to a briefing by a very senior cop to the senior management of a listed company. The briefing was about terrorism.

In the beginning, we were shown slides of training camps, young people using guns and other weapons to, essentially, learn how to kill.

Most of the camps were in the Middle East, while I supposed the last two to be camps in the Philippines or Indonesia because their backdrops were “green.”

I was half-right. The last slide, we were told, was in a camp somewhere in “the vicinity” of Kuala Kangsar that “we’ve been watching for some time.”

God bless our Special Branch: they’re ahead of the curve.

That’s why the Islamic Party’s narrative is confounding. It flies in the face of the Malaysian government’s refusal to recognise the Taliban. It’s yet another reason to kick it out of the government.

Pas is still a part of the federal government although its contributions are generally in the “Less is More” category.

It’s safe to say that Messrs Hadi and Hadi don’t read widely because they were clearly unaware of the Kandahar commander who ordered all the women employed in a bank there to go home while their jobs were filled by men whose only ideas of banking or finance were previously gleaned from the business end of a Kalashnikov.

It isn’t clear if the same order applied to all the female doctors at Kandahar General.

“I’m sorry, I’m unable to do your hernia op right now, Commander,” says Dr Ayesha as she divests herself of mask and surgical gown. “But here’s my cousin, Ali, who’s got lots of experience with sheep.”

Who says I’m kidding?

Thus far the Taliban have grimly forbidden all things Gillette, quietly encouraged opium cultivation, and continued to discriminate against women and minorities.

And this is the model Pas holds up as its exemplar?

It’s got to be kidding!

ENDS

PHYSICIAN, HEEL THYSELF

The older I get, the better I used to be – Leo Tolstoy

A Malaysian billionaire once told me that all entrepreneurs were optimists. “We have to be,” he said. “And I think that’s why we succeed.”

I wouldn’t say Dr Mahathir, 96, is an optimist of the rose-tinted variety. I mean, he isn’t the sort of fellow who thinks a bull wouldn’t hit him because he’s a vegetarian, but he has an amazing propensity for snatching victory out of the jaws of defeat.

The ancient physician, who counted Maharaja Lela as an old friend and had never approved of J W W Birch either, might have been a tad optimistic about his party’s recent showing in the Johor state elections.

The aged medico ascribed his party’s loss to “money politics.” If he believes that, he’ll probably believe there’s light at the end of the rainbow.

His blithe assessment is reminiscent of the fellow who, while treed by a hungry lion prefers to enjoy the scenery. Dr Mahathir pointed out that despite only having about 5,000 members in Johor, his party, Pejuang, managed to garner more than 18,000 votes, which he claimed was “proof” that the party was still capable of drawing supporters.

Here’s the math: Pejuang contested in all 42 seats which means, on average, it got 438.6 votes per seat. That’s pitiable. His party didn’t just lose, it received a drubbing, with all 42 candidates losing their deposits.

Meanwhile, the wily doctor revealed that former premier Muhyiddin Yassin had recently approached him to ask for his help to regain the PM’s post.

It’s become a problem in Malaysia: if they’re not part of the solution, they’re probably running for Prime Minister.

Muhyiddin torpedoed the PH coalition he helped form by cobbling together a coalition of Malay parties to become PM in 2020. He didn’t last two years before they turned on him and threw him out.

Politics is supposedly the second oldest profession in the world, but the events of the last three years has clearly shown its resemblance to the first.

As PM, Muhyiddin was unremarkable at best. The old man, however, was scathing in his assessment of his former Cabinet colleague. He said Pejuang was “not going to support somebody who as the prime minister was as much a failure as Najib.”

What did MY expect? Tea and sympathy?

When Dr M was a teenager, history hadn’t yet been included in the school syllabus and in his 90s, he still shows no inclination to retire. At the same press conference where he dropped the bomb on MY, he was asked – hint, hint – to comment on 70-something politician Lim Kit Siang’s retirement from all forms of politics.

The crafty medic said while he “might” – note not “would” – not contest in the next general election, he “was not leaving Pejuang yet.”

“I cannot make a decision now because I have to abide by the decision of my party. So it’s something we will decide later.”

In short, he intends to remain around forever or the next 20 years, whichever comes first.

ENDS

CRIME DOES NOT PAY, NOR SHOULD IT SEEM TO

In three words I can summarise everything I’ve learnt about life – it goes on. –Poet Robert Frost.

Najib Razak would, no doubt, agree.

Malaysia’s First Felon, affectionately known in high society criminal circlers as Fearless Leader, has been fearlessly dishing out advice left, right and centre – and people are taking heed, it seems.

Indeed, he’s morphed into a latter-day Svengali to the United Malays National Organisation, the party he once headed. Fearless is, to be sure, the Boss-Who-Needn’t-Feel-Any-Shame-at-All.

And he doesn’t, not a jot.

Even so, the shameless ex-boss continues to be deferred to as a leader. Nowhere was this more evident than in a recent video showing the party faithful celebrating its win in the recent Johor state election: it showed party president Zahid Hamidi elbowing Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob aside to bring Fearless up-front, to the head of the throng.

It’s no wonder Ismail’s been looking especially doleful of late.

As I write this, I read, with astonishment, that Fearless just concluded a keynote address to the Penang International Business and Investment Summit.

The report went on to say that during his “two-day trip” to Penang, Fearless was expected “to meet the Chinese community” and “the state Umno liaison committee.”

Ye Gods! Who invites a person found guilty of defrauding his country to launch an “international business and investment” seminar?

That’s like inviting Bernie Madoff to launch a Rotary business event in, say, Seremban. Let’s face it, on the Jho Low Scale of Mammoth Larceny, Madoff is a minnow to Fearless’ whale.

Meanwhile, why is Fearless being lauded about, and bowed and scraped to, as if he were leading his party into the next general election?

Do they know something we don’t?

The absurdity of it all is made preposterous by the testimony coming out of a Brooklyn courtroom. It stars Felonious, Fearless’ less-than-trusty sidekick and co-stars greedy bankers and everyone else who fed at the 1MDB trough. Their numbers, to quote the Bible, are “legion.”

By all accounts, Felonious was the mastermind and the biggest thief of the lot. But he could not have pulled it off without help from the top.

How did Fatboy convince everybody, even people already rich as Croesus, to participate in a grand plan to loot an entire country? The US trial in Brooklyn was told that the rotund robber siphoned US$4.5 billion (RM18.9 billion) of 1MDB’s money into his own account.

Fearless has been convicted of only one crime that involved a sum of RM42 million which is peanuts in terms of Felonious’ colossal theft. But it sets the stage. His big trials are ongoing and he has a lot to answer for.

Which is why it is sheer lunacy to continue to fete Fearless, to extol him and assure him he needn’t feel shame. To do so would be to exonerate him. Even worse, it’s a tacit nod towards corruption, even its encouragement, so long as the loot is shared.

1MDB was and remains the largest theft in the history of white-collar crime. That is an absolute fact and no amount of dissembling, artifice, advice or keynote speeches at investment seminars can diminish its magnitude.

The Appeals Court described him as “a national embarrassment.”

There is also that.

ENDS

ALL DISQUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT

Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one. – Albert Einstein

I hate reality. Nevertheless, it’s still the only place to get a good steak. – Woody Allen

It’s going to get a lot worse before it gets worse.

It’s a sentiment first echoed by the madcap comedienne, Lily Tomlin. And in these circumstances, it’s apt.

Don’t you think so?

Europe is having its first war since World War Two, a fact not lost on anyone remotely aware of history. If this was a film, all sorts of ominous chords would be rumbling in the background.

The worry is best summed up by Einstein after the Americans used the atomic bomb to end WW2. “I know not what weapons will be used in World War Three but in World War 1V, it will be by way of sticks and stones.”

People like Einstein felt these things because they knew American society. It is a society that’s getting increasingly divided, ugly and violent.

It used to have people like Rush Limbaugh, a radio talk-show host who was so right of centre that Attila the Hun would have crossed the street rather than accost him.

More to the point, Limbaugh wasn’t dismissed as a kook, a weirdo or a loony as he should have been. On the contrary, he was listened to gravely, had an enormous following, and was even awarded America’s highest civilian honour by President “Weird Don” Trump.

And all this for a man who once advised his audience over the airwaves: “The best way to reduce the number of nuclear weapons is to use them.” That wasn’t thinking out of the box, it was strictly out of the straitjacket.

But few seemed to think it mad, least of all a Fox news anchor who, upon Limbaugh’s death in 2021, described him admiringly as “a force of nature.”

So are earthquakes but they are never given awards nor described admiringly.

The point is the Limbaughs of the world are legion and scattered all over, from Moscow to Madras, from Chernobyl to Cambridge. Extremism is rising and it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that what starts off as a local conflict can escalate out of hand.

The way Putin is behaving is unnerving. And you get more worried when you hear, over the BBC, that Western intelligence, thinks he’s feeling “increasingly angry, frustrated and isolated.”

That’s not something you want to know about a guy with easy access to the N-button. Let’s hope “hell hath no fury like a tyrant scorned” isn’t anything more than an exaggerated literary flourish.

The conflict is already affecting us. Our finance minister expects to spend almost RM28 billion on fuel subsidies – extremely idiotic policy given it’s the Mercedes and the BMWs that’ll benefit the most.

But like-minded people will be worrying about the Johor polls where Umno has already got its Three Rules ready…

  1. Get elected (2013)
  2. Get re-elected (2022)
  3. Don’t get mad, get even

ENDS

JUST WHEN YOU THINK IT CAN’T GET ANY WORSE, IT CAN

It’s generally been a depressing week, don’t you think?

George Carlin was right all along: how, on God’s green earth, can any war be civil? And amid a still-raging pandemic?

I read, with mounting disbelief, that Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant and the largest in Europe, was on fire early Friday after an attack by Russian troops.

Are they out of their minds?

Even Vladimir “Stoneface” Putin must know there are no winners in that kind of war. In the words of Bertrand Russell, it’s either “co-existence or no existence.” In those circumstances, all men are truly cremated equal.
Against that hellish backdrop, the banality, and continuing dishonesty, of Malaysian politics comes across as almost refreshing, a bit of comic relief in an otherwise grim world.

The nation’s First Felon, the peerless, Fearless Leader once again demonstrated his prodigious ability to perplex by telling Parliament Wednesday that the government had yet to pay “a single cent” of the principal debt of 1MDB, the sovereign wealth fund that Fearless set up and, subsequently, crippled through the sheer weight of its own debt.

He was attempting to show that taxpayers hadn’t been injured in the slightest. You have to admire the man’s gift for being disingenuous.

It is true that the principal amount of 1MDB’s debt (RM32 billion) hasn’t changed but it’s only because the bonds issued by 1MDB – to buy unnecessary assets at inflated prices – aren’t due yet. Since its inception in 2009, taxpayers have repaid over RM13 billion of 1MDB’s debt with another RM38-odd billion to go.

The latter will become due starting May and will have to be serviced by the taxpayer until 2039. Malaysia’s total national debt is over RM1 trillion.

Blessed are the children for they shall inherit the national debt. The sentiment was Herbert Hoover’s and he was the US President widely credited with exacerbating the Great Depression of the 20th Century.

In a backhanded sort of way, it makes me glad that I’m over 65.

Meanwhile, the bells of judgment have begun tolling for Fearless. Having been found guilty by both the High Court and the Court of Appeal, Fearless had desperately tried to delay matters by attempting to claim “new evidence”.

The hope was extinguished Wednesday when the country’s apex court rejected any more postponements. And so Fearless’ final throw of the dice will take place March 16-18.

If he loses there, he can no longer “pass Go nor collect $200”. Instead, he will have to “proceed directly” to jail to begin serving a 12-year sentence. There, he won’t have police outriders or bodyguards. Nor is he likely to expect the adoring throngs, with their raucous cries of “Bossku” (My Boss) any time soon.

He will have to get used to new dietary conditions, new clothes, an out-of- parliament experience and grimmer accommodation than he’s accustomed to. His pensions are also likely to be axed.

On the plus side, he will still get to go out from time to time: Fearless still faces very serious charges in several remaining trials.

From somewhere deep in Macao, Jho “Felonious” Low watched the plight of his once-trusted friend and helpmate with all the sympathy a bottle of ice-cold Moet & Chandon Esprit du Siècle Brut can summon.

The sympathy was considerable but it was also tempered by relief and a sudden epiphany on Felonious’ part.
There but for the grace of Money and many passports go I.

ENDS

A FOOL AND HIS MONEY ARE SOON PARTYING

Who is rich? He that is content. Who is that? Nobody. – Benjamin Franklin

I read an item on Twitter recently, from an aggrieved bank customer in Malaysia.

Our friend thought he’d finally paid off his car loan. Close, but no cigar.

His loan balance read $0.01. And the bank insisted that he settle the “outstanding” amount before anything else, meaning, he couldn’t cancel said bank’s claims on the car.

Trivia for the day: Do you know you cannot transfer $0.01 online? It’s below the minimum transfer amount.

It stumped our worthy who proceeded to have a Eureka moment: He transferred $1 to the bank instead.

“Hee-Hee,” thought he gleefully, “now it’ll have to return $0.99 to me and Good Luck with that!”

Unfortunately, the bank was made of sterner stuff: it knew Banking Rope-A-Dope 101 as well as any Goldman Sachs and countered with the aplomb of a bureaucrat. Its answer: if said worthy wanted any change, he’d have to submit a written request together with supporting documents of proof.
It was the banking equivalent of “put that in your pipe and smoke it.”

Of course, he gave up!

Our friend didn’t name the bank which was a pity as it might have embarrassed it enough to have the grace to return his money.

“You win, bankers,” he concluded dismally, “You always f$%^&g win!”

Tim Leisner didn’t.

As an implacable banker and a hardnosed dealmaker, Leisner knew there were only two rules for success. 1) Never tell all you know.

But now he was telling all that he knew about 1MDB to a New York court and Malaysians were riveted. He was the person who enabled Jho “Felonious” Low to steal billions of dollars from 1MDB and his guilty plea probably did more to undermine former premier Najib Razak’s credibility than anything else.

The sums bandied about in Leisner’s testimony against Roger Ng, his Goldman colleague and friend, were enough to delight Donald Trump. It also made you wonder why anyone in their positions – wealthy by any measure – would take such risks to make themselves richer.

But these people aren’t normal, to begin with. Recall that the wife of the former premier thought nothing of paying over a RM1000 for getting her hair done in her home.

For his part, Felonious knew that money couldn’t buy you happiness, but it could buy you a yacht big enough to pull up alongside it.

He probably thought he would remain safe so long as his friend remained in power. Both knew the Golden Rule: he who has the Gold, Rules.

I suppose in the case of the former First Lady, if it didn’t buy you happiness, it helped you be miserable in comfort.

But how to explain Leisner and Ng?

Goldman’s exorbitant commissions were immediately noticed by the media which must have set warning bells ringing in the US and Malaysia.

Felonious’ extravagant and well publicised spending sprees in the US must have also attracted attention. The minute the DOJ released its report in 2016, Messrs Leisner and Ng must have known the jig was up.

Despite his testimony and cooperation, Leisner still faces sentencing. The former premier’s last gasp is also due.

Only Felonious remains unaccounted for.

So are 1MDB’s billions.

ENDS