Live each day as if it were your last. One day, you’ll be right. – British comedian Benny Hill
Felonious washed the last of the duck confit down with his still-cold 2013 Cristal champagne and sighed with satisfaction. He thought Benny Hill would make an excellent motivational speaker.
The flatulent fatty formerly known as Low Tack Jho was in China because the communist republic was flexible about corruption. Officially, it was loathed and those deemed corrupt were shot. Unofficially, it could be condoned. Example: those who’d looted other countries were deemed foreign investors.
Here, Felonious was in a class of his own. A Colossus among Third World Looters – he made Idi Amin look like Winnie the Pooh – he was afforded Red Carpet Treatment. It was the Golden Rule: he who had the gold made the rules.
The substantial swindler was affectionately known as Felon to his friends and Shanghai neighbours who claimed, with tears in their eyes, that he was generous to a fault. And he probably was, this champagne swilling, caviar nibbling, government toppling charlatan, because it was Other People’s Money he was throwing about.
The pleasant pirate was wanted on three continents, yet he hid in plain sight. He has, apparently, a suite of offices on the 20th floor of the iconic World Financial Centre in Shanghai.
Here was a walking advertisement for the notion that crime did pay; the living proof that the perfect crime was possible. It seems incredible that China might endorse such notions, yet Beijing has kept very quiet. And if the shoe fits…
In truth, Felonious was preoccupied with weightier matters of state. Malaysia had called for a general election and the last time it had done so he’d received a rude shock.
And he wondered, uneasily, if lightning might strike twice.
Zahid Hamidi knew or thought he did. He’d even made sure that the election would be in the monsoon season – low turnout, hint, hint – and put the Fear of Jail into his colleagues to galvanise them, presumably, into even greater effort.
Zahid, who remains on trial on 47 charges of money laundering, did it by intimating that some of them would face criminal prosecution if the opposition won.
In truth, none of the people he named faced any such threat. It just showed that Zahid wanted as many of them to feel as threatened palpably as he did.
It was what kept him awake nights.
Even Felonious didn’t know what kept his trusty, former co-conspirator, ex-premier, Fearless Leader, awake at night. Nothing, he concluded soberly, because having risen above reality, Fearless slept as soundly as any thief.
Indeed, you could say Fearless lived in an altogether alternate reality. It was a reality that still provided outriders, swank transportation and Armani suits during court appearances.
It was a reality that allowed him to insist on being allowed to attend Parliamentary sittings, even to campaign during the general election.
Who, and where, did he think he was, this man who’d once affirmed that “no one was above the law?”
Was he going stir-crazy?
No, I think he’s just taking Lily Tomlin’s view of life: “I can take reality in small doses but not as a lifestyle.”