Sam: How’s life treating you, Norm?
Norm: Like it caught me sleeping with its wife
– TV sitcom, Cheers
Malaysia’s former premier Najib “Fearless Leader” Razak was a conservative, which is English for a person who believes he deserves everything he’s stolen.
In that sense, he was an uncommon politician: he got caught. Which is why he now languishes in Kajang Prison where he’s only free to contemplate his navel and think up new and inventive ways to lose friends and irritate judges.
That was Malaysia for you. Justice was open to everyone in the same way as the Shangri-La. Fearless knew the feeling: he’d just received his lawyer’s bill.
It was ironic in many ways. He used to be so busy that he hardly had time for himself. Now he was reduced to this: except for occasional visits to court, he was about as busy as a pick-pocket in a nudist colony.
To say it was depressing is to understate it to the 10th power. I’ve been to Kajang Prison. In the late 1990s, my former colleague, Murray Hiebert, was given a three month sentence – he served two – for “media contempt” and I used to visit him regularly. I found it a difficult place to be cheerful in: you had to talk to the prisoner through glass and mesh, and the place smelt of sweat and despair.
Now Fearless was taking his case to the United Nations where there were only 10 million petitions before him. His lawyers had told him that the odds were stacked against him. What they didn’t tell him were his actual chances. They were threefold: zero, zip and zilch.
Alas, poor Fearless. Over in China, his once-friend and helpmate in crime, Low Teck “Felonious” Jho watched sadly. Fearless found him simpatico the first time they’d met. He especially liked the way his mind worked and his interest got piqued after he discovered that Felonious’ thesis in Wharton had been on Bernie Madoff and the near-perfect crime.
Felonious thought that a person who wielded absolute power could do well-nigh anything he wanted.
To prove his point, he demonstrated that, on any given day, Fearless could have been convicted of perjury, obstruction of justice and making false statements, or what the Prime Minister’s Department called a “press conference.”
It was the Eureka moment for Fearless, a multi-billion epiphany that would lead to the almost-perfect crime had it not been for one tiny miscalculation: losing the general election.
But Felonious hadn’t miscalculated. He made sure he wasn’t in Malaysia when the time rolled around for a general election – both in 2013 and 2018.
It can’t have given Fearless much comfort.
It explained the grim relish with which Fearless read the paper on Monday. It reported that Felonious’ days as a protected “intelligence asset” in China could be coming to an end.
The source of the story was Bradley Hope, the journalist behind Billion Dollar Whale, the story of the looting of Malaysia by Messrs Fearless and Felonious. The leviathan referred to in the book’s title was the corpulent crook in China.
Hope revealed that Fatso’s chief protector in China had been convicted of, what else, corruption and so Felonious’ luck might be running out.
The tubby thief was philosophical about it. Que sera sera, he thought cheerfully.
He’d packed more living in the last 14 years than many do in a lifetime.