ABSOLUTE POWER CORRUPTS ABSOLUTELY

It’s a proven fact that capital punishment is a detergent to crime – All in the Family’s Archie Bunker 

A man who has never gone to school may steal from a freight car but a man who has gone to university may steal the whole railroad – President Theodore Roosevelt

The family that steals together stays together. 

It’s the apparent moral underscoring the outcome reached in Kuala Lumpur’s High Court last Thursday. 

Judge Zaini Mazlan threw the book at the accused, and it may as well have been Crime and Punishment given the weighty sentence. Rosmah Mansor, the wife of ex-Premier Najib Razak, was found guilty of corruption and sentenced to ten years in jail and RM970 million in fines. The latter is the highest in Malaysian legal history. 

Barely over a week ago, Najib began serving a 10 -year sentence for abuse of power and money laundering. He also faces a fine of RM210 million which, if unpaid, increases his sentence by another five years. 

If you were to include the former premier’s tax bill, the once-rampant First Family is looking at a potentially crippling RM2.8 billion in fines. 

That’s a lot of Cartier watches. 

But spare a thought for the condemned. Their only support comes from some sections of Umno and others dazzled by Najib’s “wealth.” But it’s abundantly clear that the Razak family themselves were either too embarrassed or ashamed because none of his brothers showed up courtside. Even his first cousin, the minister, has remained deafeningly silent. 

These people have led sheltered, pampered lives. It was Rosmah, after all, who thought that a RM1,200 haircut at home was “normal.”

In short, they have no clue how the common man, let alone the convict, lives and so the prospect of prison must surely fill them with unspeakable dread. 

So why did they do it? The answer lies in the arrogance of a ruling party that has never lost an election in over 60 years. 

They thought they’d never be held accountable because they would always remain in power, the better to sweep everything under the carpet. As Newsweek columnist Gerry Wills famously observed: “Only the victors determine what the war crimes are.” 

But the hubris remains. After he delayed paying his tax arrears, there were moves to declare Najib a bankrupt. The former PM furiously called it a move to “end my political career.” If he still thinks he has a career, he’s a bigger optimist than Johnny Appleseed! 

Meanwhile, Jho “Felonious” Low, the ample architect of the 1MDB fraud, gnawed his nails anxiously as he watched the grim proceedings in Malaysia. He had decidedly mixed feelings about the whole debacle.

What was happening to his friends was terrible. 

But it could have been worse, it could have been him.

Now he had two, new worries. One, Tom Wright, the author of Billion Dollar Whale, was using crowd sourcing to find him.

Worse were the fines that his friends now faced. Would he be asked to share in their burden or could he safely invoke the old “I’m not my brother’s keeper” clause?

Decisions, decisions.

ENDS

LIFE IS WHAT YOU MAKE OF IT

To expect life to treat you good is as foolish as thinking a bull won’t hit you because you’re vegetarian – Comedienne Roseanne Barr

Felonious, namely the Low Jho, heard about Fearless Leader’s failure before the appellate court and his heart bled for his erstwhile mentor.

But the word that came to him wasn’t “disappointed.” The corpulent crook thought it should have been more in keeping with that expressed by Cyrus “The Virus” Meese after he was arrested for holding 30 Texas lawmen at bay for four hours before they finally served him his speeding ticket.

When asked why he resisted so long, Mr Meese, a reprobate of no small measure, shrugged and said it was the principle of the thing: “Never settle with words what you can with a flame thrower,” he replied with all the aplomb a clear conscience can summon.

Felonious, who was renowned for his courage under no fire whatsoever, thought it was a sentiment for the ages.

Malaysia’s Court of Appeal had unanimously upheld Fearless’ conviction and 12-year sentence by the High Court last year on abuse of power, money laundering and criminal breach of trust charges.

In addition, the judgment said Fearless’ action was not in ‘the national interest” but “a national embarrassment.”

Fearless was “disappointed” by the judgment. He went on to plead his innocence in an oath he swore “in the name of Allah.”

It’s one of several times that Fearless has invoked a religious oath to profess his innocence.

It seemed to indicate a clear conscience. Either that or he had a very bad memory.

The Appellate Court ripped Fearless’ defence up, even calling his much vaunted “Arab donation” claim a “concoction bereft of reality.”

Indeed, legal experts had wondered why Fearless hadn’t simply summoned his Arab friend to testify on his behalf. If he’d donated US$700 million to Fearless, surely, he’d have no problem saying so in court.

But it did not seem to have occurred to his crack legal team. It was even whispered that the Arab donor bore an uncanny resemblance to Felonious in a kaffiyeh.

To demonstrate his solidarity with his fallen comrade, however, Felonious gallantly eschewed a festive Dom Perignon for an agreeable 1991 Pinot Noir to go with the excellent duck confit his chef had whipped up for lunch.

It was a sombre group that assembled for lunch on the Wednesday of the verdict.

Hairy Low, Felonious’ pater and occasional yachting advisor, noted hopefully that Fearless’ defence team, while professing “disappointment” (that word again!) with the verdict, felt confident that the Federal Court would “overturn” the appellate court’s rebuke.

Hairy said this with a smile that set off his roguish, Errol Flynn-like moustache against teeth so dazzling they shone like whitecaps in the Macao surf. Indeed, they were the whitest caps modern dentistry could buy and Felonious knew it for a fact.

So did the dentist who kept giggling with an unseemly delight every time he went to his bank.

Felonious knew that Fearless’ lawyers had expressed similar, chest-thumping statements prior to the two trials.

And he wondered, not a trifle uneasily, if it was merely a coincidence that Fearless’ lawyers also giggled inordinately every time they went to their banks?

Felonious was made of sterner stuff and vowed not to despair. Actually, it was difficult to despair when confronted by plump, fresh figs amid a bed of sharp Stilton cheese, an exquisite pairing which Fat Boy thought deserved the chef a raise.

He’d gotten on to Life in a Fast Lane way back but had known when to get off and stay off. In that sense, it was hard cheese for Fearless but that was how the Stilton crumbled.

He had a new adage to live by now and he intended to stick to it. With wealth everything was simple, really: you scratch my back and I’ll let you know when to stop.

He couldn’t go home but you can’t have everything, Felonious reminded himself sternly. Life was good and so, like Groucho Marx, he intended to live forever…

….or die trying.

ENDS

TO ERR IS HUMAN, TO BLAME ANOTHER EVEN MORE SO

Former Malaysian premier Najib Razak, or Fearless Leader, has applied to a United States court to obtain the names of 1Malaysia Development (1MDB) officials who were bribed by Tim Leisner, the former Asian head of Goldman Sachs.
Fearless’ lawyer, the hirsute Scruffy A, had been doing his damnedest to stall the trial of his client because it seemed like a good idea at the time.
Fearless is currently being tried for four criminal charges in bribery totalling RM2.28 billion and 21 other charges of money laundering involving the same amount.
Unfortunately, the learned Scruffy’s fishing expedition was dismissed. The judge didn’t budge which, while being good poetry, did little for Fearless’ state of mind as the trial wasn’t delayed in the slightest.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, Fearless had already been found guilty and sentenced to 12 years in prison in an earlier trial. He’d also been fined RM210 million to boot. He faces an additional five years if he fails to pay the fine.
Indeed, everything Fearless had touched during what he liked to recall as his “golden years” seemed to be crumbling into dust.
AmBank, the bank Felonious, Fearless’ ever-mistrustful sidekick, chose for the money laundering operations, had been fined RM2.83 billion as part of a “global settlement” in relation to 1MDB. The fine almost brought the bank to its knees.
Similarly, Deloitte, 1MDB’s auditor at one time, paid RM324 million for neglecting to disclose the agency’s sins of commission. Another auditor KPMG is negotiating its fate.
With so many entities and individuals left burning in their wake, a reasonable man might conclude that Messrs Fearless and Felonious were now repentant and despairingly sitting in sackcloth and ashes, and beating their breasts.
Alas, he would be disappointed.
The flabby Felonious has not been seen since 2018, the same year that French winemakers noticed a huge spike in the sales of champagne in the northern region of Macao.
That was not to say that Felonious had gotten off scot free. By his own standards, he’d bled as well, losing a yacht, a private jet and billions in assets in Malaysia, the US and the United Kingdom.
But the chubby charlatan was nothing if not philosophical. “Easy come, easy go,” shrugged the bovine bandit and concentrated on weightier matters like getting the amount of caviar on his cracker just so.
He was never one to put Descartes before the horse.
It wasn’t as if Fearless’ feet were being held to the fire either. He dispensed advice freely whether people listened or not: they didn’t. He diligently continued to attend Parliament, an act that compelled Scruffy A to plead yet another reason to postpone the trial.
He even put out videos of his exercise regimen – planking and weights. Indeed, it appeared that the only inconvenience dealt to the unflappable Fearless was his conviction, which effectively ruled him out as a candidate in the next general election.
The other thing that had changed was that the dynamic duo had fallen out. Now the main plank of Fearless defence was that it was all Felonious’ fault, and that he’d been merely guilty of a silly, and misplaced, trust in a friend; that he’d been “more sinned against than sinning.”
The idea had come from the learned jurist Scruffy A, whose inspired decision-making stemmed from a long political tradition of blaming others for the really serious errors.
In between flutes of the good stuff, Felonious sympathised because he understood. Had the shoe been on the other foot, he would have done the same.
Thank God it wasn’t, he reflected cheerfully, and decided he could, and would, drink to that.


ENDS