In our Selected Exhortations category, we republish interesting stuff such as must-read articles and essays not originally written exclusively for the blawg, and which have come to our attention. Please feel free to email [email protected]com if you would like to reproduce your writing, but first follow our Writer’s Guide here. This article was previously published in LoyarBurok’s monthly column, “The Monkeysuit Protocol” in August Man magazine’s November 2011 issue.
Tommy ‘Karate’ Pitera. Richard ‘Iceman’ Kuklinski. Edward ‘The Wall’ Fanucci. These are hallowed names in the corridors of Mafiadom. Made men, capos and bosses look up to them and kill just to be like them.
And then there’s you. Sweating. Shivering and waiting for the titanium striker to hit the primer.
Face it. You’re no Pitera or Kuklinski or even The Wall. No, you’re just Bobby Heng. A ‘siew pau’ seller from Kepong (Ah Heng’s Original Seremban Siew Pau. Once bitten, twice more you buy). A man who got caught up with the 603 Gang he’s been paying for protection. A little too caught up, in fact.
Now, as you lie face down on a cold cement floor with the glimmering gunmetal barrel of a Glock 17 twisting into your temple, you wonder where along that Underworld gutter pipe you slipped up.
YA MESSED UP, BOBBY
Was it when the Boss (Ah Tau) called you out for coming up short on July’s bill back in 2009? And you had him hooked up with your car insurance racketeering cousin? The one who raked in profits via his company (F1 Insurance Sdn Bhd. Faster claim, faster go.) preying on victims of pre-engineered accidents?
No, that was the beginning of a beautiful relationship. Ah Tau got a nice cut by putting up henchmen to stage those pile-ups. In return, you scored brisk sales, supplying the entire clan with ‘siew paus’ for every occasion listed on the Chinese horseracing calendar.
Was it when Ah Tau discovered a dead roach inside his special 60th birthday ‘siew pau’? And he wanted horses to drag you until your skull melted and mingled with the salt of the earth?
No, that was the start of your speedy ascension up the ‘ma-chai’ ladder. You convinced your Uncle Wing Poh (Wing Poh Chinese Medicinal Hall. For the longevity you need to increase your prosperity) to dress up a bowl of cordycep juice as horse penis elixir to bless him with immortality. And he rewarded you with a Lexus.
Or was it the night when Ah Tau’s grandniece got married? And you watched him hack a waiter to pieces in the back alley for serving the wrong chili sauce? And you decided then to ditch your new pals without first drawing advice from the police?
Yes, Bobby Heng. And any of you smarty-pants out there who thinks squirming out of the underworld is like slipping off your underwear. Now that your simple two-step has devolved quickly into a full-blown Russian ‘Kazachok’, you probably wished you sought the Witness Protection Act 2009 much earlier.
YA SHOULDA GONE FOR PROTECTION, BOBBY
Under this Act, witnesses and victims of crime can approach the police and apply for protection against all sorts of dangers. Harassment. Violence. Possible death. All at the hands of perpetrators who want you silenced because of something you know or saw. Firstly, the police hands your application over to the Director-General (D-G) who heads the programme. He then decides whether your case is serious enough to warrant eligibility. Is what you’ve witnessed going to help in the conviction of Malaysia’s most wanted? Are you in danger of being murdered? Of being castrated? Or just of being haunted forever by prank calls? It all matters.
Qualifying Age: The Lawyer Speaketh
You have to be above 18 years of age to qualify for the programme. But if you’re 10 and you miraculously have bounties of 9 crime families on your head, then you’d best look for your folks or guardian to help you fill the application form.
There’s also a background check to beat. After all you can’t have a free Tom Cruise face and bungalow in Berlin if you owe a loan shark some RM2 million. It’s no go too if you’re still entangled in a bunch of sticky legalities or financial issues with a criminal history to boot.
Lastly, get ready for a medical and psychiatric evaluation by the D-G. It’s to ensure you’re no escapee from ‘Tanjung Rambutan’ with shaky hands and grand delusions of yourself as that trigger-happy Jason Bourne.
YA COULDA BEEN A NEW MAN, BOBBY
Classified eligible? Here’s where you get referred to the Attorney-General (A-G), the dude who decides whether you’re worth the public funds he needs to spend protecting. And if he decides instead there’s a bigger scumbag out there more useful to his promotion, you’d better pray. Pray he’ll at least throw you a bodyguard in the 14 days you have to appeal to the Law Minister.
Interim Protection: The Lawyer Speaketh
Under the Act, the D-G can only recommend your inclusion in the programme. The A-G makes the decision. If your case is rejected, you have 14 days from the date of receipt of the A-G’s decision to appeal in writing to the Minister. The A-G will then give his reasons to the Minister. Meanwhile, you’ll continue to enjoy the State’s protection until the Minister makes a final decision.
If you’re in, it’s time to disappear. Fast. No long goodbyes to your vintage Theresa Teng records. And no visiting your hundreds of relatives with dried mushrooms and white fungus to officially part ways. You’ll be shipped off quickly to some secret place and supplied with a new identity, social security number, home and even a salary based on current and projected earnings. Even if you’re unemployed, you’ll get some spending money for yourself and your family.
Classified Top Secret: The Lawyer Speaketh
Under the Act, the D-G can order government officers to issue birth and marriage certificates, identity cards and any other document to establish a new identity for you. Details of your identities will be kept in a secret Register of Participants. This means only the Minister, A-G, D-G and anyone authorized in writing by the D-G may have access to it. No law in Malaysia can compel the Register to be produced in any court, tribunal, Commission or an inquiry. No one can disclose your information – not even you – unless the D-G says “a-ok”.
HOW DOES IT END BOBBY?
Living a new life isn’t so bad. You just have to get used to the idea of not living like you did before. Like selling ‘siew pau’ in public with the same old signboard (Ah Heng’s Original Seremban Siew Pau. Once bitten, twice more you buy). That would be akin to shooting yourself in the foot. Not to mention, wasting your role as a valuable informant and the programme itself with the same bullet. In fact, that would also be begging for immediate ejection from the programme.
Termination of Protection: The Lawyer Speaketh
Your ticket into the programme doesn’t guarantee you a free permanent stay. There are rules to observe. So if you’ve been (1) exaggerating how much the mob loves you (2) living like Jho Low when you’re supposed to lie low or, God-forbid, (3) you’re not even on the mob’s Top 100 hit list – then the protection ends. And you’re back to the ‘siew pau’ business.
Not that any of this information will be useful to you now, of course. No, no, no. Right now, that Glock 17 is having a conversation with you and you’d better listen. “You’re a numbnut, Bobby Heng,” it says. “You’re a traitor, Bobby Heng,” it says. “You’re history, Bobby Heng,” it says. Your breathing quickens. You hear the squeeze of the trigger. The spring pressure releases.
“See you in the next life.”
LIBERAVI ANIMAM MEAM.