Behind Every Great Fortune Is A Crime

The majority of people in Thailand are Buddhist which explains their philosophical approach to life. It’s like “treat every day as your last and one day you’ll be right.”

That sort of explains the Death Awareness Café.

The establishment is a cafe in Thailand that’s using a macabre gimmick to draw in customers – closing them in coffins after finishing coffee.

The Death Awareness Cafe in Bangkok features mortuary-inspired décor and coffins placed for customers to spend time closed inside after their purchased beverages.

A sample poster on the wall reads “Twelve remain dead in morgue shooting.” Another reads; “You should never grieve at funerals. In fact, if anyone cries at my funeral, I’ll never speak to him again.” 

Veeranut Rojanaprapa, the owner of the extraordinary café said the purpose of the cafe is to inspire customers to reflect on their lives. He said the idea was inspired by Buddhist philosophy and is aimed at encouraging people not to be driven by greed.

And he didn’t see any irony in opening the cafe for profit? Actually, the businessman was an eternal optimist. When he was a child, he persuaded his parents to buy him two goldfish. He called them One and Two so even if one died, he’d have two left.  

Be that as it may, there are as many business models as they are varied. The death motif was original and, to hear Mr Rojanaprapa explain it, it was also quintessentially Buddhist. 

“Our main goal is for the visitor to experience the death awareness,” he said. “When the lid of the coffin closes, their basic instincts will come up and they will realise that eventually they cannot take anything with them.”

The felonious fatso now not hiding out in China would have said that what they’d feel is panic. 

The Royal Malaysian Police felt panicky and wished the ostensibly Buddhist Felonious aka Jho Low would have had such self-realisation before he came up with his grand plan to defraud Malaysia that the Wall Street Journal described as the “world’s greatest heist.” 

But the smiling swindler must have known he would rise to a level of thievery that made even Bernie Madoff look like Winnie the Pooh. He knew that an MBA with a brief case and a fountain pen could steal more than a hundred men with guns. 

“Behind every great fortune is a crime,” wrote the French playwright Honore de Balzac way back in the early 19th century. But the plump pilferer who continued to haunt the dreams of the Inspector General of Police knew something that Balzac didn’t. 

Very early on, perhaps as early as his college years in Wharton, he’d realised that, in Malaysia, crime did not pay as well as politics.

So he combined the two and, if things had stayed the same, he may have gone on to become a latter day Warren Buffett.  

For isn’t it said that history is written by the victors?

He might even have commissioned Tom Wright and Bradley Hope to write his memoirs called – why not? – Billion Dollar Whale.

Alas, poor Felonious! His advice will no longer be sought by governments, he will always be looking over his shoulder  and the next book about him might conceivably be about his arrest and trial, the best-selling Billion Dollar Bail.

It doesn’t get any more Zen than that.