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.”


There is a wry saying about signing up with the United States Armed Forces that goes something like this. Join the Army. Meet interesting people. And kill them. 

But it cannot have been the intention of Brazil’s Tourist Board to have promoted Rio de Janeiro this way: Get away from it all. Experience Rio. And get mugged. 

Indeed, when marketing Rio de Janeiro, Brazil’s national tourism agency typically focuses on the city’s world-class beaches, samba-filled music scene and caipirinha-fuelled parties. Violent crime is rarely listed among the attractions. 

But in an embarrassing social media gaffe this week, the Brazilian Tourist Board (Embratur) accidentally shared a critical Instagram post from a tourist who did not enjoy her stay in the so-called “Cidade Maravilhosa,” or Marvellous City. 

“I just spent 3 days in Rio with my family, and in those 3 days my family and I were robbed, and my 9-year-old sister witnessed a violent robbery,” Instagram user “Jade” wrote in an Instagram Stories post. “I can’t recommend a visit to a city where I felt afraid of even leaving the apartment.” 

Embratur deleted the shared post on Wednesday. It said in a subsequent statement that “sharing (the post) was a mistake.” 

No kidding!

Subsequently, some Brazilian wag shared this on Instagram the day after Jade posted her denunciation of Rio. “Got mugged by six dwarves last night. Not Happy!

But it failed to cheer up the mortified agency which added glumly that it had worked hard to promote a nationwide fall in crime in 2019. 

Safety concerns along with inconvenient flights, poor infrastructure and high costs have long held back Brazil’s tourism industry, which lags its South American neighbours. 

As news of the mistake went viral, Jade, who identified herself as a Brazilian living in Europe, said in another Instagram post that she hoped “the person (at Embratur) doesn’t get in trouble, we all make mistakes.” 

But she defended her original post. “If I don’t feel safe or comfortable somewhere, I’ll share it,” the unrepentant muggee said. 

For a nation that gave the world Pele and won the World Cup the most times (5), Brazil felt pretty maligned to have its criminal credentials burnished for all the world to see. 

It wasn’t fair, the much-maligned nation brooded. Crime was actually everywhere: it was a universal phenomenon.  

In America, for instance, the perfect crime was getting caught and then selling your story to television. In Malaysia, on the other hand, crime did not pay as well as politics. It was also the place where money launderers were, and still are, filthy rich.

It was only in Germany and Singapore where crime was minimal and that was only because it was against the law. 

In the end, it might all be relative after all. An escaped prisoner camping out in the woods was an open and shut case because it was a clear sign of criminal in tent

Murder was a crime but describing murder wasn’t. Sex, on the other hand, wasn’t a crime but describing sex, in puritanical countries at least, was.