God is silent; if only man would shut up – Woody Allen

Jho Low would have appreciated the irony. Here was Dr Mahathir Mohamad, putting his foot into it as is his wont and there was Najib Razak, his nemesis, actually attempting to “rescue” him. 

Even so, the convicted former premier got in a gleeful jab of his own. “In the meantime, someone should take away all his (Dr Mahathir’s) social media accounts before he does any more damage.” 

Maybe someone should.   

What else would you make of a tweet like this? “Muslims have a right to be angry and to kill millions of French people for the massacres of the past.”

Does this sound like the ramblings  of a former Prime Minister of Malaysia or something else? Twitter was so disturbed it deleted Dr M’s post for “glorifying violence,”  immediately ranking the old man right up there with losers, fools and Donald Trump. 

Some terrible things had happened in France. Any sensible person would just decry the violence and the rhetoric, offer tea and sympathy, instead of leaping in with gratuitously offensive comments. We have enough problems of our own to worry about before  weighing in on the pain of others. 

Exhibiting the delicacy of an enraged bull in a China shop and offending millions of people should always be weighed against the virtues of tact. Sometimes there is an art to saying nothing when there is nothing to say. 

You would think that a former leader of more than 22 years, and 94 at that, would know better. I believe it’s called Diplomacy 101.

But Dr M has never really grasped a simple notion: if people really wanted your unsolicited advice, they’d ask for it. He still hasn’t got it. Even as premier, he believed that everyone had a right to an opinion – his. 

Maybe we should look on the bright side because it could be a lot worse: he might still be premier. 

But it was worse in the United States where Trump was still the President and he relished every moment of it because, as Art Buchwald might have said, 40 per cent of Americans worshipped the quicksand he walked on. 

President Trump felt good about himself and his chances next week as he had CoVid not only beaten, but on the run. “We’ve turned the corner on the virus,” he crowed to his supporters, many of whom had never led facts get in the way of their reality. “We’ve beaten the sucker!” 

Mr Trump believed that the US had turned the corner better than any other country on earth and it proved that he was the greatest leader since Mussolini, to whom he bore more than an unnerving  resemblance.

“You won’t find another leader who’s turned the corner more than me,” boasted the President who also knew that he was the most widely read person since Gutenberg invented the printing press. 

That was why he knew he would win. One, he had God on his side – he had that on good authority – and two, Biden’s arguments were  absurdity itself. It had to be because they directly contradicted his beliefs which his supporters knew were fact.    

We live and learn. Or as the President would have it…

…we live.


The felonious fatty, known as Jho Low, had mixed feelings about the whole thing. Quite a “yes and no” type situation. 

On the one hand, he was saddened that Goldman Sachs, a former friend and more-than-willing ally, had been rewarded with a public flogging and fines of over US$5 billion for its role in the 1MDB debacle. 

On the other hand, he felt positively elated and brimming over with what the French term la joie de vivre. “It could have been much, much worse,” he confided to his father in between sips of a delightfully ice-cold 1977 Chardonnay. “It might have been us.” 

His pater, the dashingly-moustached Hairy Low felt a certain disquiet at his son’s use of the pronoun (“us”) but still awarded himself full marks on his prescient foresight of sending his son to study at the prestigious Wharton School in the University of Pennsylvania all those years ago.  

The products of that school were the sort of people most people would want, nay, need to know, reflected the urbane co-conspirator, with a dashing twirl of his moustache.  

But only two were really famous. 

One was the current President of the United States and the other was a very rich and a very sought after Felonious, his beloved son and the ample apple of his aged eyes. 

There was no doubt that Felonious was much sought after but it certainly wasn’t as an after dinner speaker. His erstwhile boss, mentor and help-mate, Fearless Leader, wanted to blame him while Malaysia’s top cop, Abdul Hamid Bador, wanted to jail him.

The US wanted to question him, Singapore wanted to flog him and the banks in Switzerland only wanted to learn at his feet. 

Meanwhile, Bernie Madoff wanted his autograph – he wanted to be just like him when he grew up – while it wasn’t clear what exactly Lloyd Blankfein, the CEO of Goldman, at the material time when Felonious was Tripping his Blight Fantastic, wanted with the cherubic charlatan. 

But it looked as if there was murder in his eyes. 

Goldman was pilloried after the 2008 Global  Financial Crisis as an archetypal symbol of Wall Street greed: it misleadingly hawked highly dubious mortgage-backed securities as gilt-edged bonds and tried to sell out before the bottom fell out of the market, which added momentum to the downward spiral. 

It paid fines but no one was charged. With Fearless running defence, Felonious might have singlehandedly changed all that. 

Goldman’s costs from the scandal hurtled beyond US$5 billion on Thursday, while a subsidiary pleaded guilty to a US criminal charge for the first time in the firm’s history. 

The parent company entered a deal to spare itself a conviction that could cripple business, by promising to behave.

And both CEO David Solomon and predecessor Lloyd Blankfein got a rare rebuke: they have to give up pay, attaching personal accountability to two of the industry’s most visible leaders for a scandal spanning the globe.

The accords lift a legal cloud that formed during Blankfein’s tenure and remained through the handoff to Solomon two years ago. 

It could account for the look in Blankfein’s eyes: he had always maintained he’d never even met the fat fraud. 

Get over it, advised the ever-philosophical Felonious. He was eager to get on with a new scheme.

But for some strange reason the Chinese banks seemed reluctant to give him credit for his ideas. 


Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution is so widely accepted that today’s Darwin Awards honour those who have improved humankind’s gene pool by leaving it. These are the blokes who think the Gaza Strip is the adhesive side of a band aid. 

OK, let’s be blunt: these guys perished in ways that forced a reasonable man to conclude that they were several popadoms short of a curry.  

2019 saw an over-achiever’s share of US awardees. Do you, dear reader, still need proof that the Trump Effect is contagious? Consider the overall winner, a Maine man who exemplified the maxim: “he who digs a pit for his brother will himself fall into it.”

To make his home theft-proof, the rocket scientist remembered the Old Loose-Tooth Trick, to wit: “When someone slams that door, this line will tighten, and that tooth will shoot out of your mouth like a bullet!”

Thus, said RS duly rigged his front door with a line to a handgun designed to fire when the door opened, presumably to slay rapacious robber. These traps, however, are only successful if the idiot-savant remembers them in the first place.

Alas, he didn’t and the rest, as they say, is herstory: his wife inherited the property.

Two morals can be gleaned from our next story also set in these United States. One, there is only one Eval Knievel. And, two, there can be one stupid person but for sheer, bona fide idiocy, there isn’t anything like teamwork.

The Black Bayou Bridge in Louisiana was closed to traffic to allow a boat underneath to pass through in the wee hours of the morning of May 26.  But two Texas men sitting in a Chevy Cruise thought they might do a Blues Brothers and “shoot the gap.”

But they forgot that the Blues Brothers were on a “Mission from God” in a Hollywood movie and they weren’t. The driver reversed a fair bit and then accelerated for all his worth only to find out that while evolution was a theory, gravity was a law and so they plunged over the bridge, into the waves and into immortality as Double Darwin winners.

The US is a sizable chunk of country and there are enough wealthy people who qualify as pilots and purchase planes because flying home is easier than driving. We, and the air-traffic controllers in question, assume that said pilots are sharper than your average bowling ball.

Patrick, 52, was up to the task of hopping his new plane home. Licensed to fly commercial aircraft, Patrick had 10,000 hours of flight time and an instructor certificate. But during the first two take-off climbs, aviation fuel – basically, kerosene – had entered the cockpit and sloshed around his feet.

At this point, any sane pilot would have fled screaming into the night.

Not the intrepid Pat. At his third stop in Missoula, he called a mechanic familiar with his plane and casually mentioned that he’d had the plane checked out and it was fine. The mechanic reacted sensibly enough. “Are you crazy?” he screamed and immediately recommended grounding the plane until the issue was resolved.

But Pilot Patrick was made of sterner, if less intelligent, stuff and overruled the mechanic, saying he would fly the plane but, as a concession, would do so with its electrical systems offline. This is referred to as flying ‘in the dark’ with no instruments. It’s especially baffling because the aircraft was newly purchased, and its trustworthiness had yet to be established.

It is at this point when Catholic priests generally administer the last rites and make the sign of the Cross.

Plucky Patrick subsequently took off from Missoula International Airport only to crash in a flaming fireball. The crash report stated: “The pilot was [likely] distracted by fuel entering the cockpit and failed to maintain adequate airspeed as he returned to the airport to rectify the problem resulting in an aerodynamic stall.”

Here Lies Pilot Pat

Of sense he made a hash

Didn’t see where it was at

And flew into a crash.


In her debate with Vice-President Mike Pence last Tuesday, Senator Kamala Harris noted that a Biden-Harris administration would decriminalise marijuana possession and its use when it came to power.  

Pot stocks went through the roof which indicated that investors had a pretty good idea about the outcome of the US presidential race. Meanwhile, the hospital that recently treated President Trump for Covid-19 quietly changed its name to the Walter Weed Medical Centre. 

That it was a surprise at all was, in itself, surprising. Pot is legal in 11 American states while it’s already been decriminalised in 16 others. As actor Bill Murray wryly observed: “I find it ironic that the only thing dangerous about weed now is getting caught with it.” 

Which just goes to show how much the US has changed over the years.  

In the 1960s while the Beatles tripped out and turned on, US Poet Laureate Ogden Nash disapprovingly observed that “Pot Is Not.” 

This was in sharp contrast to American football legend Joe Namath during the same period. Asked which surface he’d prefer, Broadway Joe replied famously; “I don’t know if I’d prefer Astroturf to grass. I’ve never smoked Astroturf.” 

Still, the football legend pales beside a musician like Willie Nelson who reserved his pot intake to only two occasions: when it rained and when it didn’t. 

In the 1980s, Ronald Reagan advised American youth to “Just Say No” to grass while just saying yes to an ice-cold Scotch and soda. 

Things began changing in the 1990s when Bill Clinton admitted to smoking pot in college while famously insisting “I did not inhale” even when he was known to inhale whole steaks for dinner at the White House, an idiosyncrasy that might have had a hand in the heart condition he developed later. 

Things moved up a gear a generation later. Asked the inevitable question, Barack Obama admitted that he did indulge at Harvard. 

And did he inhale?

Frequently, countered the President, “I thought that was the whole point.” 

Enter Senator Kamala Harris, a former Attorney General for the state of California. She not only has freely admitted to having smoked pot in her younger days, but cheerfully espouses it, saying recently “it brings joy and we need more of that around.” 

It also seems to have had an American tradition stretching way back. George Washington used it occasionally while Thomas Jefferson said it was one of his greatest pleasures. 

And it could reduce at least one intractable problem. For all its power and wealth, the US has some very dubious distinctions. Standout example: on a per capita basis, the US has the largest number of prisoners behind bars. Decriminalising pot would certainly improve matters. 

As actor Morgan Freeman noted: “Treat it like alcohol and you’ll put the pusher out of business. Sell it and tax it.”

Indeed, it’s getting to be big business. By 2027, it’s estimated that the legal market for marijuana will top US$73.6 billion: put that into your Treasury pipe and smoke it.  

Meanwhile, more and more countries are jumping on the medical marijuana bandwagon. Canada, Mexico and Brazil have already legalised it while, closer to home, you can get it legally in Bangkok. 

In the future, there might be little shame in selling the product. Since it is a plant after all, you might still get away with calling yourself a florist. 


I should make one thing clear. It’s not that I disagree with President Trump’s foreign policy or his notions about healthcare. It’s just that he’s a lunatic sent here to destroy the world that gets to me. 

I mean, did you watch the debate? 

I watched it, first in incredulity, then in shock and anger. I don’t know why I should feel that way as I’m not a citizen and, God knows, my country has enough of its own problems. But, I suppose, the US and its actions ultimately affect all of us. 

I have a brother and two nephews living and working there and both my wife and I have had postgraduate stints in the States. And there is its reach – its literature, its art and its films – which has, one way or another, influenced many of us. 

Therefore, you expect the President of the United States to behave in a certain way, an approach exemplified by President Barack Obama – with wit, charm and an innate decency. 

You do not expect a showing like last Tuesday where President Trump exhibited all the tact and charm of a bull in a china shop. He bullied, he harangued, and he interrupted and trampled all over the moderator, the hapless Chris Wallace. 

It reminded me of the truth of the Mel Brooks quote: “Presidents don’t do it to their wives, they do it to their country.”

And when asked squarely to criticise white supremacist hate groups like the Proud Boys, he balked, or he couldn’t. And that only encourage the group: it promptly adopted his phrase – “stand back and stand by” – as their new handle. And that’s a group identified by the FBI as an extremist organisation. 

As I write this, I have just heard that both President Trump and his wife have tested positive for Covid-19. I’m stumped and all I can say is that John Lennon’s song Instant Karma comes to mind. 

This might finally jolt the people of the United States into waking up to the dangers of the disease, to listen to the doctors and finally let science lead the way in fighting the disease. 

It might also teach the President – not holding my breath here though – a lesson or two on the perils of hubris. 

While convalescing or in quarantine, the President will be well advised to read up on world affairs and perhaps catch up with American history. 

The reason I say this, is the fact that the President’s favourite rooms in the White House are, in order, the Lincoln Room, the Roosevelt Room and the Oval Office. And he still thinks that President Oval was the one who came after James Garfield. 

So far it appears that the President is fine and you have to hand it to the American people for the news seems to have finally united them in the sense that everyone, including his Democratic adversaries, praying for his recovery. 

With one voice, they’ve also urged him to avoid hydroxychloroquine and bleach like the plague.