There but for the grace of Beijing go I, breathed Felonious and shuddered so violently that he required two more goblets of soothing Dom Perignon to restore his customary good cheer.
The chortling char siew, as he was fondly described in Hollywood circles, once thought there were lessons to be learnt in this instance.
Crime did pay – for nine years at least – until you got caught. And it could have been worse, he told Hairy, his moustache-flashing father, “it could have been me.”
Or me, thought Hairy Low, his moustache flashing triumphantly because in their case, it was still paying and then some.
The object of their ruminations was Felonious’ one-time taiko and old-round, best buddy Fearless Leader who had been found guilty of corruption and sentenced to 12 years in jail and fined RM210 million to boot.
Fearless had the finest lawyer money could buy in the form of Scruffy A, a pit-bull with a beard. Scruffy’s fees alone might have been punishment enough for Fearless, but the man had also come up with a compelling legal defence.
Shorn of its legal rhetoric, and there were a great many, it boiled down to three phrases: “Who, me?”, “I didn’t know anything”, and “It was all Fatso’s fault.”
Scruffy was proud of his erudite counsel and thought the latter defence especially brilliant. Alas, his brilliance was extinguished by a no-nonsense Judge Nazlan who dismissed it as “far-fetched, defying logic” and “lacking in credulity.” In short, what Scruffy thought had been lucid reason and sweet clarity, Judge Nazlan ruled as bunkum, hogwash and – his last offer – poppycock.
Indeed, the judge privately thought that even the Boston Strangler had put up a better showing. Still, after all the sound and fury, the tale told by an idiot signifying nothing, it had taken the better part of two years for Fearless’ trial to wend its way through court.
Even so, the gallant Fearless remained undaunted and promised that an appeal would clear his name. Instead of waiting for said appeal, Scruffy enumerated Judge Nazlan’s “many mistakes” to the media although he magnanimously conceded that the mistakes had all been “honest”.
But for all of Fearless smugness outside the court, he must have been dismayed by the international headlines he provoked the day after.
An Australian newspaper ran “Plundering idiot” on its front page while the New York Times had “The fall of Malaysia’s Man of Steal” as its headline.
On a note of accuracy: If you thought the NYT was punny, you should think local cartoonist Zunar, whose original it is. The paper had written to him asking permission to use it and he’d agreed.
Fearless had liked Zunar well enough when he was busy skewering Dr M or Abdullah Badawi, but he’d thought the reference to a Super-thief had been in poor taste.
Fearless had been surprised when his coalition lost the 2018 election. But in truth, it wasn’t so surprising: the people had simply read between the lies.
It was that loss that had undone them both, thought Felonious sadly for he longed for the glory days of Equanimity and ice-cold white wine on its moonlit deck.
The dumpy dim-sum concluded that the secret of success lay in not getting caught. And Felonious resolved to do so by emulating Teddy Roosevelt.
Henceforth, he would always speak softly and carry a big wad of cash.