THE MAKING OF A MALAYSIAN METAPHOR 

When Jho “Felonious” Low recently boasted about losing 10 pounds, Macao remained indifferent. 

Even scornful.

“Hallelujah,” growled the Times’ social-affairs columnist through gritted teeth.  A dour, dyspeptic dragon, she loathed show-offs who snacked on caviar and crackers, and her next sentence was positively dripping with bile.

“That’s like removing a deck chair off the QE2,” she snarled, and all Macao knew there was a trend afoot.

The term “fugitive Malaysian” may soon descend into the realms of hackneyed cliché like a “no brainer” or a “sticky wicket.” 

Indeed, at one dizzying, moment, Malaysia briefly threatened to punch above its weight in the master criminal sweepstakes because we boasted not one, but two fugitives.  

The parallels seemed disquieting enough to give social scientists pause. Both the fugitives were slick, both, fat and both were from Penang. 

Was this the triumph of char kway teow over common sense?

Maybe not. “Fat Leonard” was rearrested Tuesday in Caracas.   

According to Reuters, Leonard was the mastermind behind one of the largest bribery scandals in US military history. 

The Malaysian fugitive’s  alarming propensity for shattering dubious world records is an alarming new trend. Like Charles Ponzi, a future global crime is sure to be named after its Malaysian architect in such florid prose as “a monstrous fraud, huge and epic in all its convoluted, Jho-Low’ian proportions.” 

Now there’s a Malaysian metaphor for the world stage. 

Leonard Glenn Francis didn’t know what Felonious had been smoking but he wished he had some. He’d cut off his GPS ankle bracelet before fleeing from house arrest in San Diego. He’d been awaiting sentence over a bribery scheme that lasted over a decade and involved dozens of US Navy officers.

The flabby flatterer had bribed enough US naval brass to secure  lucrative contracts for his global ship-service business. 

But when he escaped three weeks ago, the US pulled out all the stops. Ten American  agencies searched for him and authorities offered a US$40,000 (RM182,000) reward for his arrest.

The re-arrested reprobate isn’t a happy camper. For one, he wished he’d been 50-lb lighter so the US Press might dub him Lissom Leonard but, fat chance!  For another, he was peeved with the bounty on his head which he felt was too small for a Smooth Criminal.   

Unlike Felonious, Francis had actually pleaded guilty in 2015 for  criminal inducement.  Felonious had merely returned assets – a yacht, a plane, art, houses, jewellery – worth billions in pleas “not amounting to an admission of guilt.” In Leonard’s book, that made Felonious “stupid.” But he was free and he wasn’t.

Fat Leonard had been caught offering prostitution services, luxury hotels, cigars, gourmet meals and more than US$500,000 in bribes to Navy officials and others to help his Singapore-based ship servicing company.

Prosecutors said the company overcharged the Navy by at least US$35 million for servicing ships, many of which were routed to ports he controlled in the Pacific.

The plump ex-Penangite had been contemptuous of the officers he’d bribed – he called them “animals” in one video – while claiming “cover-up” as his tentacles had allegedly reached up to the admirals in charge. Although over 30 officers have been convicted, no one in the Naval High Command has been indicted.  

Meanwhile, the beefy brigand had been a heartbeat away from being forever extradition-free.

In Caracas, he’d been stopped from boarding a flight to Moscow. 

ENDS

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