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 protected] if you would like to reproduce your writing, but first follow our Writer’s Guide here. This article was previously published inLoyarBurok’s monthly column, “The Monkeysuit Protocol” in August Man magazine’s February 2012 issue.
Ah, the smell of fresh paint. The sound of footfalls on soft infant grass. The shimmering sun on virgin roof tiles. It’s your new holiday home from Ah Tau and you’re pleased as pudding.
Favours done for the Boss of the 603 gang usually meant fast ascension up the ‘ma-chai’ ladder. And gifts. Usually of grandeur, never of the tacky RM5 shop variety. Never mind that you had two gigantic golden toads guarding the entrance to the house.
Just as you’re about to consider adding a bronze-plated phoenix to the ensemble, your own car, a black sedan with tinted windows, rolls up the front gate. The doors fly open and four men jump out. You’re so excited at the prospect of being able to break open your Hennessy X.O and Menglembu peanuts, you forget to do just that.
“Nice house, Bobby,” growls the leader of the pack. “Can we stay a couple of days?” You respond with a nervous laugh, “Of course, Brother Pua. Anything for the right hand of my Boss!” One of the four sports a black rubbish bag over his head, a fashion statement strange even to a modern man like you. But who’s one to judge another?
IS YOUR HOME A HIDEOUT, BOBBY?
“Peanuts, err…Mr?” Your gesture is directed to the garbage-bag adorning man who now sat wedged between Brother Pua and Brother Long, sans bag but with eyes on the floor.
The men had adjourned to your living room. And all had had sips of your whisky except this fellow.
“He’s allergic.” Brother Pua answers curtly.
“What about –?”
“Alcohol gives him psoriasis.” comes the quick reply.
“Er, doesn’t he speak?” you try again but Pua simply ends any further attempt with “Locked jaw.”
“Look, Bobby,” he growls, “Long, Kang and I are going to share a room. But Chow gets his own hole, ok? We’ll discuss the requirements of his stay soon. Meanwhile, let’s talk about more urgent matters.”
“Like where did you get these amazing peanuts? They’ve just the right amount of sweetness and crunchiness.”
Lowdown on Abduction: The Lawyer Speaketh
In Malaysia, abduction, wrongful restraint and confinement for ransom are serious offenses under the Kidnapping Act 1961.
Anyone who has the intention to abduct, carries out the abduction and then confines or restrains the abductee shall be guilty of an offense under the Act.
The punishment shall either be death or imprisonment for life. In the event of the latter, whipping may be included.
You assign a single room to Chow. But you soon find out that it’d require minor alterations. All windows had to be sealed. All sharp items, removed. And all meals, sent to his room.
But that’s not all you find out as the days unfold.
WHERE’S YOUR CAR BEEN, BOBBY?
Firstly, Chow didn’t like leaving his room. Secondly, his sense of fashion continued to straddle the line between bizarre and extremely bizarre, due in part to the silver tape across his mouth with a garish lipstick-drawn smile on it.
It’s also starting to dawn on you – albeit still a little bit too slowly – that you hadn’t asked them how and when they’d come to have your car either.
The Vehicle of Crime: The Lawyer Speaketh
Under the Act, the owner of a “conveyance” (vehicle used in an abduction) in which the abductee is wrongfully confined or restrained, will risk having his vehicle seized by the police unless he can prove to the Court’s satisfaction that the abduction was committed without his knowledge, consent or connivance.
“Maybe he’s a genius of the existentialist variety more partial to quiet contemplation than gastronomic indulgence?” suggests Ali Malai, your primary school buddy who’s now a successful small-time exporter of palm oil.
“But that doesn’t explain the tape,” you argue.
“I swear I’ve seen something like this on TV before but…” your voice trails off, giving way to Ali’s crackly chuckle on the other end of the line. “Oh I know: He’s a kidnapping victim!” The idea sounds so preposterous, you burst out laughing. “You idiot.”
GOT BLOOD MONEY ON YOUR HANDS, BOBBY?
One morning, Pua returns from a breakfast with Long, Kang and Sports Bag. You don’t remember them leaving with one, either.
“Here Bobby. Keep the bag under your bed.”
You can see Ringgit notes inside. Lots of them. Stacks and stacks. But you don’t ask questions.
When Ransom is Involved: The Lawyer Speaketh
The Act states that whoever receives, possesses, or disposes of any ransom in connection with an abduction (and knows it is a ransom), will be punished with imprisonment for a term not exceeding 10 years and whipped.
Further, the Act states that anyone found to possess any money, property or proceeds from these, shall be considered to have knowledge of a ransom. That person has to prove otherwise in Court.
You’re however surprised when Pua enquires about the financial aspect of your siew pau business.
“So…where do you stash the cash you get from sales?”
You tell him it’s all housed in one account at a Hong Leong bank branch a short walk away. And then Pua simply asks point-blank, “So…what’s the number?”
You ask why. But he repeats the question so slowly that you simply submit.
Freezing of Bank Account: The Lawyer Speaketh
If the Public Prosecutor is satisfied that money for the payment of ransom may be paid out of any bank account, he’s empowered under Section 7 of the Act to order any bank in Malaysia to have the account frozen.
Any officer who complies with such an order shall not be liable to anyone in respect of the payment. Conversely, a bank that fails to comply shall be guilty of an offense and fined an amount not exceeding RM5,000.00.
YOU COULD’VE BLOWN THIS EVIL PLAN APART, BOBBY
That night, while Theresa Teng‘s serenading you in the hall, Harry saunters in sucking on a slice of guava.
“Pa, are your friends staying long?”
At your quizzical frown, he launches into a tirade of complaints. Something about the monopolisation of the TV and bathrooms. And a very long section on the trails of cigarette ash left all over the yard.
“Since when were you an advocate against smoking?” you ask, recalling the countless times you’d caught Harry recreating Genting Highlands inside his room.
“I just joined a group. Did you know there are loads of cute girls in it?”
Harry soon divulges more details about his experiences with Ah Tau’s stooges.
“They talk funny on their phones, too.” Harry offered. “Must be all the radiation melting their brains.” You remind him that the study is inconclusive but Harry is adamant, “Have you heard the stuff they’ve been saying? Things like “Project X’s going through. Water’s safe in the bank.” Or “Target to be delivered only when full flood occurs.” Who talks like that?”
Of course, all this information is beginning to penetrate the dense fog plying the circuit around your head. And you can’t help but recall your last conversation with Ali Malai.
Duty to Blow the Whistle: The Lawyer Speaketh
Anyone aware of the commission of or the intention of anyone else to conduct an abduction has a duty to inform the police. If he has a reasonable excuse for not doing so, he must prove it in court.
Failure to inform the police shall be an offense punishable by imprisonment not exceeding 3 years.
The next morning, you buzz your buddy again to regurgitate Harry’s report and express your budding concerns. Ali’s a calm force of cool pragmatism, “Well, maybe they simply enjoy role-playing in their life. You said they watch TV a lot, right?”
He offers to drop by anyway – “…if you want me to rule out the possibility that you’ve 4 psychos in your home.” he says.
“Thanks Ali. You’re a good friend.”
YOU SHOULD LEARN FROM YOUR FRIENDS, BOBBY
Ali turns up at 7pm. And it turns out he’s more than a good friend. In fact, more than Ali turns up.
Two police cars, to be specific. Chaos ensues. Sirens roar. And in the haze of all the action, you only remember (1) a plainclothes policeman bellowing into the bullhorn at the gate, “’Ni Inspektor Kassim dari CID! Jangan bergerak!” (2) Brothers Pua, Long and Kang scrambling up the brick wall fencing your compound and (3) Ali pissing in his pants at the gate.
It’s only after the brothers Long, Kang and Pua had been caught and the police, gone, that you uncover the full story.
Firstly, ‘Chow’ was really Charles, the son of a jewellery chain store owner whose sudden disappearance had been marked by the police as a high-priority case.
Secondly, he was a victim of a ploy perpetrated by Pua, Long and Kang without Ah Tau’s knowledge.
Thirdly, the motive was purely about money; according to the three men, their pay was peanuts but pyramid schemes were just too complicated.
Lastly, Ali was no passive bystander in the whole debacle. No, he’d volunteered to be an informer after the phone conversations he’d had with you.
Protection of Informers: The Lawyer Speaketh
During the course of any court proceedings – civil or criminal – no witness shall be obliged or permitted to disclose information of any informer or say anything that may lead to his discovery.
Courts also have the power to extend this protection to books, documents or papers liable to be inspected in any civil or criminal proceedings and as such, reveal the identity of the informer.
TIME TO GET SMART, BOBBY
And you? You’re now in hot soup.
With a kidnapping charge over your head and Harry possibly implicated as an accomplice, it looks like Jail will be your next holiday home. You’re tempted to howl, whine and break something.
But there’s no time for regrets because Bobby Heng always looks forward, never backwards (unless he’s reversing a car).
Bobby Heng always got out of a scrape (with or without begging).
And most of all, Bobby Heng knew how to rock the sympathy card (Thank God for Korean drama serials!).
You were going to survive this. Again.