HOW TO WIN FRIENDS AND INFLUENCE PEOPLE

Utility, thought Dr M, is when you barely have enough; luxury is when you have enough; opulence is when you have more than enough; and ridiculous is when you are heaped with more, despite already racking up much more than enough.

That appeared to explain the continuing good fortune of Fearless Leader. The former premier was convicted of Very Grand Theft for which the Malaysian government now appeared to want to reward him.

To paraphrase the Bard, the slings and arrows of Fearless’ continuing good fortune were, verily, outrageous.

Dr M was in Parliament to discuss this very matter and he thought it was good to be back. Actually, most people knew, at 96, it was good to be anywhere.

Life had handed the physician lemons and he thought it best to squirt them in someone’s eye. That’s what he did in Parliament last week, lambasting the government for its incredible generosity towards a man accused of looting more than RM18 billion from the country he was elected to lead.

Think about that for a minute! The sum – US$4.5 billion – is the amount the US Justice Department estimates was siphoned off from 1MDB. It’s mind-boggling, the sort of thing Bernie Madoff might have contemplated if he were on steroids; a heist that a Great Train Robber might regard with awe.

Dr M was incensed that Fearless had requested a “privilege” from the government in the form of a 2.8-acre residential property worth RM100 million in one of Kuala Lumpur’s swankiest neighbourhoods.

The government had, apparently, agreed, which was what had infuriated the old man.

It was Charlie Brown who got it right, “Somehow I never quite know what’s going on,” he reflected sadly in a strip I read years ago.

That’s what many of us want to know. Here we have a convicted person, the First Felon if you like, going around with security and a motorcycle escort, campaigning in an election to loud cheers, being allowed to travel overseas.

And now he’s asked for a RM100 million house as an “entitlement” and no one thinks it’s strange, weird, or, even remotely, grotesque?

Only a 96-year-old man and the rest of the opposition?

Even the self-confessed holier-than-thou types, the Islamic Party of Malaysia, or Pas, normally so quick to judge or condemn, has been strangely reticent on this subject. Indeed, they haven’t uttered a peep on the matter.

It’s never worried about other people’s money: it’s other people’s fun that keeps them up nights. Because, as sure as night follows day, it’s probably immoral.

I suppose that’s life. The average person strives, he tries to do what’s right, he stays on the right track and still gets hit by a train. And he answers like Norm in Cheers when Coach asks: “How’s the world treating you?”

Norm: “Like a baby treats a diaper.”

This is a world where John Lennon gets murdered, the same world that sees new Barry Manilow releasers each year.

Fearless knew the secret of life. The trick to getting ahead was to get a good lawyer, good book be damned.

ENDS

MALAYSIA BOLEH RUN AMOK?

The recent behaviour of the Malaysian legal authorities is reminiscent of the time when Nikita Khrushchev banged his shoe on the desk at the United Nations after a speech by US President Dwight Eisenhower. It prompted British premier Harold Macmillan to remark mildly: “Perhaps we could have a translation, I could not quite follow.”

Macmillan was feigning ignorance through irony. But you didn’t have to be a genius to know that many Malaysians are annoyed that a former premier found guilty of 1) dodging taxes of over RM1 billion, and,
2) monumental larceny that’s off the charts is, nevertheless, allowed to travel to Singapore to be with his daughter for her second child.

Lesser mortals including 1) people owing, say, RM100 to the Inland Revenue Board or, 2) graduates still owing student loans have as much chance of travelling abroad as ordinary Russians did during Khrushchev’s tenure.

It was the Court of Appeal that returned Fearless Leader’s passport, previously impounded not just by the courts but the anti-corruption agency and the IRB. Even so, the court may have been persuaded because the prosecution didn’t object. Instead, the Attorney-General’s men preferred the safely cautious route and “left it to the court.”

Fearless upped the ante Thursday, asking the court to allow a delay to his travel plans because he’d been “entrusted” by Wannabe Leader to manage Malacca’s state elections next month. Umno’s current President Wannabe is also being tried for corruption.

Like Fearless, he’d been allowed to go abroad, only this time it’s to Germany for necessary medical treatment. And since both men – birds of a feather, we are reliably told – knew that only the credible Fearless could manage Malacca, it had to be just so.

It does speak volumes about Malaysian politics when the guy adjudged to be the most capable of winning an election for a political party is also the guy standing trial for the Heist of the Century.

Isn’t that Trump Territory?

It’s going to take over a month to manage the elections. Fearless was going to Singapore to be on hand, ostensibly, for the birth of his daughter’s second child.

Like she’s going to postpone child-birth now?

It took your breath away. Here were Fearless and Wannabe, both VIPs facing crimes of spectacular magnitude and nobody cared! The fact was that their trials kept being repeatedly postponed: for Parliament, for the Sabah elections, overseas travel, medical treatment abroad and, now, the Malacca elections.

What happened to justice? I thought it not only had to be done but needed to be seen to be done.

We seem to be living in an upside-down, Alice-in-Wonderland world. We appear to be peering through a looking glass, into a John Lennon song where “your insides are out and your outsides are in,” where nobody gives a damn.

Because no one seems to think it strange, abnormal or outrageous. Not the lawyers nor the judges, not the authorities and, especially, not the politicians.

It would be a mistake to think so, however. Going by their press, other countries are beginning to lump us among The Basket Cases. And, going by the chatter out there, a great many Malaysians are asking hard questions.

ENDS

WE SAY GOOD-BYE, HE SAYS HELLO

I suspect Malaysian voters might be collectively suffering electile dysfunction – an inability to become aroused over any of our choices for prime minister.

Our current incumbent has all the charisma of a melancholy sponge, a ranking only slightly above that achieved by his dour predecessor. Meanwhile, the most energetic contender of all promises to be as old as Methuselah by the time he assumes office.

That might be the reason why Fearless Leader, a jaunty brigand much beloved by Patek Philippe, may be plotting his Big Comeback.

Actually, Fearless had never been away. Despite having been convicted of corruption and abuse of power by Malaysia’s High Court, Fearless remains free on bail and relentlessly continues to advise, chastise, browbeat, and taunt the government without a care in the world, behaving as if he’d never left the political stage in the first place.

And that’s the rub. He intends to remain and, preferably, to stay.

In a breakfast meeting with several reporters last week, Fearless blithely revealed that he intended to defend his parliamentary seat of Pekan in the next general election.

Does he know something the rest of us don’t?

The Malaysian Constitution expressly forbids a convicted person from contesting an election. It also forbids a tax dodger from doing the same. Fearless had struck out on both counts, so what was he talking about?

From across the seas, his less-than-trusty sidekick, the flabby Felonious aka Jho the Low, felt the wellsprings of hope stir anew in his bosom.

He’d begun to feel reassured last month, first after Umno, a party after his ow heart, had retaken control of the federal government and, second, when transgender and cosmetics entrepreneur, Nur Sajat, had supplanted him on the country’s Most Wanted list.

Felonious missed the Big Game, the time when he pulled the strings from afar, the heady period when he was the Lord of Pretty Much All That He Surveyed.

He lived for today, he stole for tomorrow, and he partied tonight. And, along the way, he’d amassed art, jewellery, mansions, and a super-yacht.

It had all been confiscated of course, but what a ride he’d had, what a rush! You couldn’t take that away from him.

Now it was not much fun anymore, although there was much to be said about lolling by the pool sipping Cristal champers. He was grateful. Indeed, he was the first to concede that Macao was a far more salubrious location to be in than, say, Kuala Lumpur, even with Umno back in harness.

Still, the sticky problem of which country he might legitimately enter always loomed before him like irritating question-marks. They were elusive too, not unlike the citizenships these countries refuse to let him buy.

But perhaps Fearless’ re-entry into politics could prove his salvation.

On the latter count, Felonious’ premise could be seriously flawed. Throughout his premiership, Fearless had stoutly maintained that Felonious had nothing whatsoever to do with 1MDB. Or that it had even been looted!

After his ouster, he changed tack, claiming that Felonious was wholly responsible for Everything, and The Kitchen Sink.

If you were a chess player, you might see why that might not be such a good defence.

Let’s just hope that comedian Bill Maher wasn’t referring to us when he said, “In this country, you’re guilty until proven wealthy.”

ENDS