It was these things that kept him awake at night. It was the unspeakable thought that he’d never have any real money to talk about until, just when they were digging his grave, they’d strike oil.

The answer seemed simple enough: crime. It would pay because he took his cue from the very top in the land. After all, the poor and ignorant would always lie and steal so long as the rich and educated showed them how.

In that sense, you might describe our former premier, Fearless Leader, as a trail blazer. His former less-than-trusty sidekick, the flabby Felonious certainly thought so. Indeed, it was indelibly associated with his work ethic: rise early, work hard and become close to the Prime Minister.

But back to our story. In his unflagging quest for fortune, our hero joined a secret society. Along the way, he also signed up with the civil service in the shape of the Immigration Department.

How on earth he slipped through the cracks is anyone’s guess. But, hey, it happens to the best of us.

The trick to criminality, as Felonious himself might concede, is this: it’s always better to be rich than stupid.

In short, one had to keep as low a profile as was humanly possible. “That’s easy for you to say,” grumbled Fearless who was getting heartily sick and tired of gratuitous advice from Felonious, all of which was dumpily dispensed from his safe house in Macao.

But, alas, our hero would rather be rich and stupid. As a junior immigration official earning between RM1,500 and, at his peak, RM5,000, said rocket scientist thought nothing of splurging out on a Rolls-Royce.

What do you think his bewildered neighbours thought?

In fact, he might be considered as stupid as Rush Limbaugh, a right-wing US radio talk-show host who once famously defended development thus: “There are more acres of forest land in the United States today than when Columbus discovered the continent in 1492.”

But our hero was less interested in history than he was in cars. When anti-corruption officials raided his residence on suspicion of human trafficking, they found a garage worthy of a Lewis Hamilton: a Rolls-Royce Phantom, a Ford Mustang, a Range Rover and an Audi.

Felonious whistled admiringly but more over our hero’s taste and less at his track-covering ability. Even so, it was taking conspicuous consumption to a whole new level, and Felonious approved –strictly on a point of principle.

Last Friday, it was reported that the MACC had detained 50 individuals, including 28 Immigration personnel, 17 foreign worker agents and five civilians, for being involved in the fraudulent use of immigration stamps to enter and exit the country,

The sheer number of immigration officials involved has dented the department’s reputation. It consoled itself with the thought that outside of the corruption, the department was still one of the cleanest agencies in government.

Felonious wasn’t at all worried about his reputation. Time would inevitably soften judgments and impair memory. It was not for nothing that the writer Balzac had once penned the notion that “behind every great fortune lies a crime.”


It appears that no one in power in Malaysia has ever heard of being accountable for their actions. 

It does not seem that way across the Causeway. 

On Thursday, the chairman of Changi Airport Group, Liew Mun Leong, resigned days after Singapore’s High Court not only acquitted his former maid of stealing from him but criticised the allegations brought against her.

Liew, 74, had been the group’s founding chairman since 2009. 

In a separate statement, Liew said he had also resigned as an advisor to Temasek International and several other board positions he had been holding. He had decided to retire. 

The maid, Indonesia’s Parti Liyani was acquitted of stealing more than S$34,000 worth of items from Liew and his family. She’d worked for the family for a decade. 

In his judgment, Justice Chan Seng Onn said there was an “improper motive” for mounting the allegations against Parti. This drew the notice of the Attorney-General whose chambers then said the judge’s comments “do raise questions which warrant further investigations.”

It could be that Liew was told, even ordered, to quit but the fact remains that he did. And that might still not be sufficient to get him off the hook. 

Compare and contrast this to Malaysia where the truth varies but which is still a land of promise, especially before a general election. Here, the politicians like to make all the decisions without any of the responsibility. 

But the best proof that light travels faster than sound is the Malaysian minister or deputy minister: they all appear to be intelligent until they open their mouths. 

And no one, not a solitary soul, ever contemplates resignation as a consequence of stupidity or wrongdoing.  

The examples, to say the least, are legion. 

A full minister, with his family in tow, goes to Turkey and comes back without the mandatory two-week quarantine. When the news was leaked, he was fined RN1,000 after the fact. And this after a woman was jailed and fined RM8,000 for a similar offence. 

Neither has the minister ever apologised. 

A university student in rural Sabah climbs a tree for better Internet connectivity to take an online examination. When she posts this on her Facebook page, two deputy ministers castigate her decrying her post as fake. 

When they get lambasted online, they retreat in a hurry and another minister flies to Sabah to apologise to the family. One of the two deputies has since apologised while the other quietly deleted his offending post without apologising,  

Then there was the MP from the Islamic Party of Malaysia. During the debate on new drink driving laws, the not-very-informed lawmaker suggested that the Bible had been perverted presumably because it did not condemn the consumption of wine. 

When this prompted an uproar, the unrepentant MP advised Christians that they “had no right” to be offended as his statement had been “a fact.” 

The wannabe Bible scholar has been remarkably blasé about his thesis since. 

But why should we be surprised? 

A former premier has been found guilty of corruption, tax-dodging and gross abuse of power involving billions of dollars. Yet, as his judge noted, he has shown “no remorse” and has swaggered about since, appearing to all the world as the soul of probity.