Prince Inderawangsa – Footprints in History (5/5)

Outcast and outlawed, Inderawangsa drifted dejectedly away from the citadel, following the Muda River upstream and then further inland into the wilderness. His shoulders slump downcast and his steps were leaden. O how the mighty Inderawangsa had fallen! He hid during daytime and wandered only at night to avoid detection the Cholans as he fled further and further upstream the Muda River away from the citadel. He moved around hooded even in the dark of night to hide his prominent incisors and slept fitfully out of sight cowering under his cloak during day time.

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Inderawangsa’s Final Journey

In the hot and humid jungle, his resplendent cloak and armour rotted into disheveled filthy rags. His once shiny, well-oiled  and plaited hair, moustache and beard were dirty, entangled, matted and unkempt. He was hungry all the time. His craving for blood was maddening. He started to lose weight, looking haggard, anemic and gaunt, and his mind, often suffering from feverish bouts of delirium. He was like a walking undead, and he stank death.

His skin had lost its healthy radiance turning translucent pale and inexplicably developing hyper sensitivity to sunlight. When exposed to light severe rashes would break out which quickly metastasize into putrid pustules and boils when the exposure was prolonged. His eyes had lost their intensity and seemed dead, unseeing. His skin around his mouth seemed to tighten giving him mouth a cruel appearance while his receded gums gave his prominent incisors a more menacing vampire like appearance. Interestingly, he did have an uncanny resemblance to the famous Hollywood’s Count Dracula from Transylvania and both were obviously just suffering from Porphyria.

In desperation or delirium, he had somehow managed to wrench out his incisors. The pain was so acute that his piercing painful howls could freeze the very soul of those who happenstance heard him. He was then in the vicinity of Merbau Pulas. The local word for wrenching out is “Pulas”. He stumbled aimlessly in pain for hours stumbling through bushes, tripping over fallen branches before slamming into a Tualang tree and gratefully passed out. He woke up a few days later somehow in Tawar with the both incisors still in his grip, covered in dried blood.  He felt wobbly and dizzy, weak but relief and knew that he had been miraculously cured of his blood lust. Interestingly, the local word for cured is “Tawar”.

Revitalized Inderawangsa continued to journey eastward towards the rising sun and soon arrived at Baling which means to throw where he decided to rid himself of his incisors. He threw them into the winds and they seemed to whistle “Wing” forlornly into the distant wilderness, today’s Wing District, and disappear into distant memory. He then turned and trekked south for months living off the jungle, wild berries, insects and occasionally rodents and meagre handouts from the few sympathetic strangers and villagers he met along the way. His troubles grew faint and soon faded away the further he traveled.

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Fanged Prince Inderawangsa

He trudged his last mile to arrive at the outskirt of Kota Raja Bersiong. There he laid down on the grass and looked up at the heavenly night canvass. Serenaded by the critters of the night, his weary eye lids grew heavy. He turned to his side, curled up and covered himself with his tattered cloak against the cold breeze and he fell asleep. His cloak rose and fell in rhythm with the misting of his breath which gradually slowed to a stop and Inderawangsa went over to the great beyond that night alone, hungry and exhausted but finally at peace with himself.

Upon finding a dead destitute vagabond stranger on their doorstep, wary suspicious villagers hurriedly buried him at the fringes of the jungle. However, almost immediately following his burial, disease and pestilence broke out in the village. At the same time, a few virgin maidens mysteriously disappeared into the night, probably dragged away by man eating tigers. Anyway, frightened and superstitious, they divined the outbreak and disappearance to some black magic or evil mischief. They had heard rumors about the stranger’s dark, evil and bloody past and putting two and two together, they conveniently blamed him for the calamities and devilry

To verify their suspicions, they dug up his grave. When they opened his coffin, they were both shocked and intrigued to find the shroud covering his mouth blood stained and his abdomen bloated as if he had just had his bloody meal. Both their observations are normal post-mortem decompositions accordingly to today’s forensic science. Anyway, they villagers hastily concluded that he must have risen his grave in the dead of night and kidnapped the maidens for their blood. He must be the culprit behind the recent calamities and devilry.

They consulted the village’s shamans who advised that they should drive a wooden stake into his heart and replace his treasured tusk necklace with a string of garlic around his neck to ensure that he could never rise to terrorize the village again. As an added precaution, they needed to hack off his head and send it together with the tusk necklace back to from whence he came. That was how Inderawangsa’s body is believed to be buried in Kampong Raja Bersiong, Perak while his head and necklace came to be interred at the very spot from where he threw his incisors at Kampong Siong in Baling, Kedah.

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Famous Sayak Beach Prawn Noodles

And so ends my tale of the legendary cruel fanged King Inderawangsa or better known as Raja Bersiong, Kedah’s very own “Count Dracula” who was most likely the historical 5th Indian Prince to rule the realm. He did perhaps wear his prized necklace made from the longest wild boar tusks as mark of supreme kingship but he was most definitely not fanged. He was most likely not benevolent, a tyrant like many kings of old and did surely terrorize and brutalize his subjects. His rule was cruel, tyrannical and may be even bloodthirsty but having an addiction or craving for human blood was mere stuff of fantasy which he was not. He probably preferred his bacon raw and bloody and his favorite food may be boar’s blood curd. I mean who would in their right frame of mind turn down a tasty bowl of curry egg noodles with extra blood curd and bloody cockles or the authentic crimson Sayak Beach Prawn noodles with pink ice Bandung. Anyway, in the end, his subjects did rise up and overthrow him, casting him out into the hinterland to journey into legend only to die alone and unknown in oblivion.

Prince Inderawangsa – Battle of Sayak Beach (4/5)

Finally, when the beach was bristling with thousands of Cholan soldiers, Inderawangsa ordered his archers to step back. He unsheathed his sword leisurely, then brandishing it menacingly above his head before stabbing  at the gathering Cholans and roared, “Death to the wretched Cholans! Let your spears have their fill of blood! Let your swords make widows! For glory and victory! Charge!” The moment to unleash hell and destruction upon the Cholans had arrived. He committed all his forces in one throw of the dice, one all out frontal attack hoping that the momentum of such a violent frenzied downhill charge would crush momentously the Cholan army which was still disembarking and getting into formation.

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Battle of Sayak Beach

Unbeknownst to Inderawangsa, the Cholans were actually highly motivated and well trained. They were instructed to appear chaotic and haphazard when arraying into battle formation, just a ruse, to mislead and lure Inderawangsa’s army from its Bukit Meriam stronghold. The deception had worked. When Inderawangsa charging hordes were some 100 yards, Cholan archers suddenly rallied and rained, volleys after volleys of arrows upon them. Many were cut down. At 50 yards, the front line men at arms launched their spears in unison killing as many.

Then they quickly arrayed into a line protecting the beach head, 4 ranks deep with the front rank locking their shields to form a shield wall and dug in their heels and braced for the violent collision. On their right hands, they gripped hard and readied their battle axes and swords for the kill. Men at arms on the second rank raised and pointed their spears above the shield wall towards the oncoming hordes. The rest stood as reserves ready to plug any breaches in the shield wall as still more and more men disembarked onto the beach. With their backs towards the sea, they knew their defensive shield wall perimeter being their only line of defense must be held at all cost until their main army join the battle.

The collision was brutal and many were impaled, the valiantly foolish and reckless intoxicated berserkers. The Cholan shield wall withstood the initial impact and held its ground. However, it began to constrict slowly backing towards the sea as more and more Inderawangsa’s soldiers ploughed into the fray. The slaughter had not started yet. Only occasional disembowelments or stabs in the groins and faces as most soldiers on both sides of the shield wall were just crushed tightly together and could hardly move their arms much less stab their swords or spears to inflict any wounds. They were in each other’s face smelling each other’s rancid breath and sour sweat. Inderawangsa could taste victory. It was just the matter of time before the Cholan’s shield wall which was getting shorter and backing nearer to the sea. Inderawangsa knew it would inevitably collapse and the real slaughter and anguish scream begin.

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Battle of Sayak Beach (Cholan’s Attack & Inderawangsa’s Escape)

In his excitement cheering his soldiers to push forward he suddenly heard an almost inaudible panic cry of alarm from his rear above the cacophonous shrieks of battle and pitiful whimpering of the dying. He turned his head and was temporarily blinded by the sunlight. When he regained his sight, he was stunned to see a much larger Cholan army cutting down and hacking though his lightly armed archers and were charging towards his rear. He then realized that he had been tricked, out maneuvered and most definitely out numbered, and the trap was fast closing. The battle was lost, the annihilation of his army beckoned even before it began. No, not yet when victory was within his grasp. He had to think fast and come up with something to save the day.

If only he could protect his rear long enough for the Cholans to be pushed into the sea, he can then reverse his front to regain the initiative to attack the Cholans on his rear. Yes, that would work. “Men! To me!” he screamed. Unfortunately, too few heard and fewer heeded his desperate clarion call and the hastily formed shield wall was too weak and too short to stem the overwhelming onslaught on his rear

In desperation, Inderawangsa attempted to form another protective shield wall with the remnants of his rear guards in his last ditch effort to form an escape corridor. He was hoping to salvage the perilous situation to gain some respite to maneuver his army into an orderly fighting withdrawal, to avoid the total annihilation of his trapped army. If he could withdraw with his army in-tact behind the protective walls of his Kuala Muda Citadel which was only a few miles south, he would be able to regroup and fight another day.

However, the Cholans just crashed through whatever shield wall Inderawangsa managed to muster and quickly enveloped the whole army and began hacking and killing from both sides of the pincer attack. Attacked from both sides, fear instantaneously gripped the hearts of trapped men, even brave men at arms and spread like wild fire throughout his army. Panic stricken with fear, Inderawangsa’s valiant army began to falter and crumbled almost immediately. They began to drop their shields and weapon and ran for their lives.

Now the slaughter began, not of the Cholans but Inderawangsa’s army. Many were simply cut down as they ran. Those who fled to the sea were drowned by the weight of their armour. Those who surrendered, prostrated and begged for mercy were shown none for there was none.

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Sayak Beach (Red & Grey Rocks)

So horrendous was the butchery, so total was the carnage that the battle ground was slippery with the blood of the innumerable slain, strewn with broken bones, shattered skulls and mangled bodies, many eviscerated, limbless and headless and the dying. The sea was churned crimson red and bobbing with dead bodies. The beach was also crimson red littered with drowned bodies brought in by the waves to join those killed there.

Cholan soldiers were moving amongst bodies to plunder for spoils of war. Occasionally, they would stab their swords or plunge their spears into the dying, to put them out of their misery and suffering in the final soldierly acts of mercy. There will be much wailing and mourning tomorrow when the ravenous bottle flies, scavenging crows and carnivorous civets feast. The stench of urine, faeces and death was overpowering, nauseating and revolting. So much blood was spilt that the grey boulders along the Sayak Beach were stained crimson red till today.

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Kuala Muda Citadel

Only a handful, amongst them Inderawangsa, managed to escape the slaughter alive and fled into the twilight. When they arrived exhausted at Kuala Muda Citadel, they found the citadel’s gates shut, its population cowering within in fear and trepidation. The tragic news of his disastrous defeat had reached the citadel and the horrified nobles had taken the decision to surrender and take their chances for mercy with the Cholans rather than fight them in a doomed siege warfare only to die either horribly by the swords or inevitably from starvation.

 

Prince Inderawangsa – Cholan Invasion (3/5)

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Puteri Pool

He ascended the throne as Seri Maha Inderawangsa upon the sudden disappearance of his grief stricken father. They found the king missing and the marble sarcophagus empty. He however left behind his prized tusk necklace. Again, they blamed the incident on sorcery and witchery. Truth be told, legend has it that he brought her back to the enchanted pool where she was magically revived. They lived happily together for many years until the king’s natural demise from old age. The maiden kept her youth and beauty until present day and if one is lucky enough, her haunting forlorn love serenade could be heard during full moon and of course only for those brave enough to venture near the vicinity of Puteri Pool at midnight. Well, anyone up to the challenge, anyone?

Fortunately, Inderawangsa’s bloody reign of terror and horror was short-lived. His prison at Bukit Penjara ran out of prisoners. To satisfy his growing appetite, he began to turn on his own subjects. Initially, common folks on the periphery started to disappear but without any uproar. Emboldened he started to abduct individuals from all walks of life from the street and from their homes. Even then, there was still no uproar only muted murmuring by the victim’s families.

Over time, he developed a preference for fresh warm blood from healthy young virgins. He hatched a plan to expand his harem. Initially, the nobles were honored and proud to marry their virgin daughters to Inderawangsa, even as concubines. However, they began to notice something amiss when their daughters were never seen or heard again upon entering his harem, while Inderawangsa kept on demanding for more concubines.

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Kota Aur

As fated by heaven, one of the rear walls of the harem was struck by a bolt of lightning in one clear day and it crumbled. Workmen were hurried to the site to repair the wall. Whilst clearing the debris, they, to their horror, stumbled upon rows of emaciated bodies of Inderawangsa’s concubines, all neatly laid down as if asleep, well preserved and unblemished albeit pale bloodless with only two visible puncture wounds on their jugulars. The discovery spread like wildfire, no longer attributable to sorcery, no longer suspicion, no longer rumors, now it was plainly clear the reasons behind their disappearance or specifically who was behind their death.

Even then, they could not do anything other than sending their virgin daughters away into hidings, and bided their time for a miracle or cure. They could not revolt as Inderawangsa was as ruthless as he was strong and he still enjoyed the loyalty of his generals and soldiers. So they secretly and treasonously conspired to seek help from Cholan Kingdom despite the certainty of death for them and their family if their betrayal was exposed.

In the meantime, Inderawangsa went on a rampage to seek out those virgins. The few who managed to escape his grips averred that Inderawangsa would appear mysteriously in the dead of night, shape shifting from the surrounding fog into a towering and charming prince despite his prominent menacing incisors. Surely, his penetrating gaze must be both distracting and hypnotic for his victims were never frightened to flight but somehow seemed to be lulled, compliant and willingly limped into his dark and deadly bat-like embrace as he closes his outstretched black cloak before disappearing as mysteriously into the fog.

In no time, when the winds were favorable, the Cholan armada set sail from their capital port, Gangaikonda Cholapuram, India. The mighty armada made swift sail under fair winds and following seas down the coast towards the mouth of Merbok River. Keen-eye sentinels stationed on the peak of the holy Jerai Mountain spotted them as they appeared through the fog in the distant horizon and the alarm beacons were lit to signal the impending invasion.

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Location Map with Sayak Beach enlarged

Inderawangsa sent out his heralds throughout his realm to summon every available soldier and able bodied man for battle. Fortunately, he managed to gather his army in time. He stationed them on top of the strategic heights of Bukit Meriam. They numbered in the tens of thousands, all fully armed and highly motivated. Their camp fires lit up the whole hill at night and torches buzzing around like swarms of fire flies. They stood ready for a quick deployment to repel the Cholan invasion even before they could gain a foothold on any of the possible landing beaches. However, upon arrival, the Cholan armada just dropped anchors across the mouth of Merbok River and waited.

The armada was mighty indeed. So many ships were mustered that the tranquil turquoise Merbok River seemed to be infested with a black plague during daytime and alight at night. Small raiding parties were sent out to plunder and forage from surrounding settlements along the northern banks of the Merbok River. Messengers were sent to Bukit Meriam with an unconditional surrender ultimatum or face total annihilation. Inderawangsa could not help but mocked off such ultimatum. Since time immemorial, nations that went down fighting would always rise again from the ashes of defeat and those who surrendered timidly were always trampled over and perished forever. He returned their headless bodies as his reply of contempt and defiance.

At midnight on the eve of battle, the Cholan main army secretly disembarked and landed on the Merdeka Beach on the north of Bukit Meriam under strict order to remain hidden, no sound and no fire, under pain of death. They were to stay hidden until Inderawangsa had moved out his army to engage their diversionary attack, and only to march out quick time when that battle was fully engaged to spring the pincer attack on Inderawangsa’s rear. The next morning, the armada weighed anchor and hoisted the mizzen and set sail further south for Sayak Beach on the west of Bukit Meriam intentionally in the full view of Inderawangsa.

Observing the movement from the hill top observation, a grin cracked over Inderawangsa’s face, he could not believe his eyes. He excitedly smacked his right fist into his left palm. He was exhilarated for he had the high grounds, his army was larger, rested and ready. He ordered double rations of demon toddy to intoxicate and fire up his army with courage and ferocity. More importantly, he had hoped the Cholans would attack from there and now they were sailing right into his trap. And the sun was rising behind him. He would give the Cholans a taste of his fury and make them pay dearly, in blood. They would be crushed on the beach even before they could array themselves in any battle formations. Poets would compose and sing ballads of his valiant charge, the total annihilation of the wretched Cholans and his brilliant victory for posterity.

Although he had confidently arrayed his army in the lethal bull’s horns battle formation since dawn, his heavy shock infantry in the center with light infantry on both horns and his personal guards in the rear as reserves, he ordered his archers forward instead. Rather than just sweeping the Cholans off the beach as they land, he would only harass them. He grokked that there was neither gore nor glory in such minor victory, no victory at all, when bulk of the Cholan Army could easily sail away and land to attack from another beach. “Archers forward! Draw. Loose!” Five volleys of arrows whistled silently into the sky before arcing downward to rain withering and whispering death upon unsuspecting and unprotected. Stung but not mortally hurt, the Cholans continued to land soldiers on to the beach.

“Steady lads, steady,” he held back his raring army. He wanted the Cholans to land more troops onto the already congested narrow beach. His generals and soldiers, awaiting his command to charge, were starting to get restless, eager for the easy kill amass before them. He knew better, he had to be a wee bit more patient to allow more Cholan soldiers to disembark into the cauldron of death so that he could crush them once and for all.  He needed a decisive victory to immortalize his name.

Prince Inderawangsa – Blood Born (2/5)

Many years passed, the deep gash wound had healed. The prince survived the almost fatal ordeal and the hunt and curse long forgotten. The prince was crowned king. The huge tusks which were pried out and polished, proudly worn around his neck on his coronation as a testament of his majesty and prowess and as talisman for an auspicious reign, a time of peace and abundance filled with festivities and boar hunting. Yes, boar hunting the remnants was safe sport, tasty bacon and great fun.

During one of his hunting trips around the northern foothill of Jerai Mountain, he was awaken from his deep slumber by a melodious siren song wafting through the dark forest. He walked towards the singing and the bushes seemed to part before him and a staircase magically appeared to lead him to the source of the singing. The staircase is today known as Tangga Seribu Tahun or Tangga Kenari.

He came upon the most beautiful maiden who literally took his breath away. He quietly sat on one of the boulders and surreptitiously watched on her. The maiden was bathing in the enchanted crimson Puteri Pool. Her oval face, demure and radiant, slightly blushed cheeks with dimples. Her sparkling dark eyes lively and warm. Her delicate nose unblemished above her sweet pink lips. Her long ink black hair shone in the watery moonlight covered her supple generous breasts. Her body sensually curved. Her skin pure and smooth, glowing pale ivory. He was mesmerized by her singing and captivated by her beauty and in love the moment he saw her. She was indeed stunningly beautiful. In fact, many would affirm, more beautiful the legendary Helen of Troy. A deadly siren she was not.

She was suddenly conscious of someone watching behind and her palms reflexively covered her breasts as she tentatively turned around. The prince had furtively stepped out from his hiding. She was however not surprised or frightened. There was neither anxiety nor fear in her eyes as if her wait was over and the handsome prince in her dream had appeared before her. Her heart echoed his thunderous heart beats. He confidently waded into the pool, lovingly caressed away her protective palms and put his hands around her sensuous waist and drew her nearer.

Their bodies touched and she shivered from his gentle caress. He lifted her chin and her affectionate eyes met his hungry gaze. Their lips drew together, and his tongue sought lustfully for hers. She melted into his warm embrace. The cool water could not quenched their passionate tempest that night.

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Location Map

He whisked her back to his palace and soon she was with a child. Their happy days were unfortunately short and quickly turned anxious. Late into her pregnancy, her body began to wither suddenly. Physicians could not diagnose her ailment. Shamans were of no help either. She was soon bed ridden. Her health continued to deteriorate rapidly, her radiance dimmed sickly as if her very life was being sucked from within her. Strangely, her baby in her womb was unaffected by her ailment, he was viable, vibrant and very much alive.

Sadly, she died in child birth. Her face was pale, cheeks sunken, mouth opened, eyes opened unseeing and body drained dry but she was still beautiful to behold nonetheless. The king interred her in a pure white marble sarcophagus to protect her from further decay. With the love of his life gone, the king lost interest in life, withdrawn and listless. He seemed to age overnight, gaunt, muscular frame atrophied, his hair and beard turning white and skin turned pale. His intense eyes turned empty and lifeless. He would spent most of his waking hours beside her sarcophagus whispering intimately with her. At night, he would sleep walk glassy-eyed searching for her in his dreams. Shamans suspected sorcery and witchery.

When the prince was born the royal mid wife noticed that his umbilical cord was already severed, as if bitten off. Oddly, the maiden’s body was bloodless, her skin sallow. Shamans were summoned to read the bones and tea leaves. They saw ominous dark cloud with much blood letting and death. Fearing the king’s wrath for such portentous omen, they proclaimed that “All’s well and the baby will grow up into a fine prince, a mighty warrior.”

A royal nursemaid was appointed to nurse the prince. However, the prince refused to be breast fed and grew weaker each day. With prince’s health imperil and her head at stake, the nursemaid sought help from the mid wife. She remembered the severed umbilical cord and bloodless body, suspected the prince lusted blood. Out of desperation, the nursemaid nicked her nipple to draw blood mixed with her milk and fed it to the prince. The prince was reinvigorated and sucked hungrily, and soon regained his health.

His voracious appetite and lust for blood grew insatiable. Initial drop or two into his food during his infancy soon turned into ladle full and by the time he reached his age majority prisoners were being sacrificed, hung from their feet upside down with the fatal jugular cut to drain every drop of blood into a white earthen pot below. He preferred the blood fresh, still warm and crimson. His blood lust aberration was tolerated by the nobles for he was still the king’s only son and heir to the throne.  Furthermore, he brought home his own dinner. Actually, the nobles feared him.

The prince had grown into a ferocious warrior, fearless in battles and vicious and without mercy in victories, and had brought back much plunder and glory, many slaves and prisoners of war. Rumors abounded that he took pleasure in an orgy bloodletting and feasting on the hearts of his slain enemies after each victory. He was also reputed to be a skilled hunter, a kill with every throw of his spear, and who always enjoy his boars raw and bloody. His treasured necklace crafted from tusks from all the boars he had killed grew longer with each hunt. His incisors too started to grow longer, menacing.

 

Prince Inderawangsa – Prelude (1/5)

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Majestic & Sacred Kedah Peak or Jerai Mountain

Leaping even before the sampan had beached onto the bank of the sacred Merbok River, the messenger from the iron smelting village at Batu River landed on the muddy bank, his feet sinking knee deep into the soft gluey mangrove mud. He struggled through the clinging mud to reach solid ground. He immediately sprinted hard for the realm’s Kuala Muda Citadel bearing grim news of another vicious attack. Another family of 6 had tragically been dragged into the night.

The mood in the palace, the assembled nobles, was somber with trepidation. The young towering prince stepped out proudly amongst the assembled, to volunteer to lead the hunt. He summoned his household guards and set forth in haste. They rowed upstream Merbok River into the meandering Batu River to reach the village.

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Batu River Iron Smelting & Port

The victim’s hut was located further inland at the outskirt settlement of the village, at the fringes of the thick forest at the foot of the majestic holy Jerai Mountain. As they strode towards the hut, the usually well-lit and lively path was dark, gloomy and quiet. Everyone was cowering behind closed doors. A few peered out through small cracks of windows and there was fear in their terrified eyes.

The prince entered the hut, the first thing that hit him was the sweet smell of blood and death mixed with rancid food and sour sweat. He paced around the upturned furniture, knelt down and touched one of the dark crimson pools with his index finger. He rubbed his index against his thumb, the cold coagulated blood was still sticky while his severe gaze followed the trails of blood splatters left by the dragged bodies into the distant darkness. His insides stirred, the boar was taunting him to follow.

He stood up slowly his gaze darkened fixated at the dark and foreboding forest ahead. He quivered imperceptibly from the soft waft of the night’s cool breeze, a sense of foreboding. He closed his eyes momentarily, his lips muttered a silent prayer and the hunt was on.

The prince kept up the hunt at a punishing pace and his men followed hard as they tracked silently through the grueling uphill forest in darkness interspersed occasionally by shafts of pale moon light wherever there were cracks in the forest canopy aloft. They had to hike uphill and crested the mythical petrified upturned keel of a ship before laboring into the haunted valley and finally scaling the sacred mountain.

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Petrified Rigging & Sails

The wooden ship had turned into stone and capsized into myth by an unintentional curse cast by a grieving mother when she was shamed and disowned by her wealthy but impious son. The ship’s rigging and sails broke when the ship overturned and came to rest petrified on the slope of Jerai Mountain.

After almost 6 hours of relentless and exhausting pursuit they arrived at the bloody creek. They knew the boar’s illusive lair was nearby. The air reeked not only of rotting vegetation but stank of putrid flesh, and the environs felt not just eerie but deathly.

Gruesome piles of old bones, bones scrapped clean of muscles and sinews, large bones cracked and sucked dry of their delicious marrow and skulls hollowed of succulent eyes and brain, all bleached white and dry with half eaten fresh ones, bits of putrid human flesh and hair, yes including the latest unfortunate 6 victims were strewn all around. The vegetation particularly trees in the vicinity seemed to flourish more than the surrounding forest probably from the abundant of crimson nourishment from the slaughter.

Truth be told, these trees were merely suffering from a certain benign fungal infestation and the constant exfoliation of their leprous crimson bark was some sort of defense mechanism and had stained the Teroi Creek and downstream Sri Perigi Waterfall crimson blood even until present day.

It was almost dawn, grey and surreally quiet, windless. Nocturnal critters and creatures had disappeared into the foliage. White mist hovered on the forest floor, a thick blanket of cotton, oppressively humid but gratefully refreshingly cool. Perspirations beaded into rivulets stinging eyes in the thick humidity. Yet in the eerie silence, the air was infused with both excitement and fear.

The prince silently parted the overhanging leaves in that fateful dawn. His intense eyes peered through the small cracks amongst the leaves and focused on their quarry. A slight nod, index and middle fingers pointed first to his eyes then towards their target. He then pointed his index finger upward, twirled it around twice and clenched all his fingers into a fist  They understood his signal and quietly surrounded the lair, dug in their heels and raised their spears, ready for the kill.

The hunted was in deep slumber oblivious to the impending threat, surrounded by his family, mighty and majestic. His chest rising and dropping in rhythmic stupor, nostrils flaring with each guttural exhalation and bowel bloated from the previous night feast, his bloodied white tusks glowed menacingly in the twilight. No living creatures, human and animal alike, had the temerity to invade his domain, up until now.

With a roar, all spears were launched in unison at the giant boar, the same wretched boar that had tasted human flesh and lusted after human blood for many moons. The same accursed boar that had terrorized the realm, preying on the inhabitants for food and pleasure. Although surprised by the attack, the boar sprang up immediately in agitation and anger. His family spooked, scattered helter-skelter but he rose proudly and stood firm for he feared nothing and definitely no one. A quick defiant sniff, he immediately crouched ready to attack the intruders. His red eyes stared murderously at the intruders, exhalations misting as if he was breathing smoke and fire through his flared nostrils.

He was surprisingly quick and nimble for his lumbering muscular bulk but he was a tad too slow that moment, groggy from the preceding night’s feast. Fortunately, most spears deflected off his thick battle-scarred skin not from lack of strength behind them but magic as he truly believed.

One however, the sharpest and most familiar, found its mark and was lodged deep his left shoulder but not mortally deep enough to find his heart. He clenched the shaft between his molars and wrenched the spear out, hurled it away and snorted not in pain but in indignation and fury, and charged contemptuously towards the prince who hurled that spear. They had met and faced off each other on many occasions but tonight seemed ominous as if only one will walk away alive and let this spear be his last.

He thundered forward scything through the thick foliage and launched himself straight for his arch nemesis who had anticipated the charge. The prince calmly knelt on his right knee, dug in his toes and tightened his grasps on another spear, anchoring it into the ground and raising the sharp end. His fierce intense eyes remained focused on the huge boar charging towards him. He shifted his aim for the boar’s heart and braced for the impact. The boar exploded through the bushes and crashed into him, the spear shaft splintered and both tumbled backward violently.

He was thrilled when he tasted blood in his mouth as his enormous 9-inch tusks plunged into flesh and bones. He heard a deafening scream of excruciating pain. He smelled fear in his sweats. He wanted to retract his tusks to plunge them again and to end their quarrel tonight. He inhaled to snort in victory but suddenly his head and body went limp. Then he felt the acute pain. He did not feel the spear piercing into his pounding heart. He cursed the prince. He will return from beyond the River to exact his revenge. Then a final spasmodic jerk and it all went silent and dark.

 

 

Guilty as Charged, Amen

After two decades of sojourn in Singapore, I returned to the comfort and familiarity of my old home town. My compassionate half was introduced to at first a handful of broken souls, yes, emotionally hurt and spiritually maimed from a particular church. They in turn brought the rest, almost the whole congregation, to her door step. They needed answers and resolutions, healing. Annie counseled and prayed with them. I stayed by the side, just a bit curious. Annie always kept her counseling confidential even from me her most intimate soul mate.

After a while, I was introduced to some of the more vocal ones. Over coffee, they confided stridently of cheats and deceits by their pastor whom they had supported with all their hearts and pockets.  They were clearly hurt as he had deeply disappointed them. I listened patiently but unconvinced, doubtful that a man of the cloth with such a high calling to serve had instead hurt the very people he was supposed to serve. “How could you people turn against your pastor? Isn’t he called by the Almighty? Don’t you know he has given up everything to come and serve in your small town? Are you so ungrateful?” My thoughts condescended inaudibly. I just folded my arms and waited for them to continue.

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They shared that they had been in the harvest field with their pastor from the very first day he started his ministry there over 10 years ago. They excitedly heeded the call when reminded that the harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. They fervently devoted their hearts, souls and minds into building the body church, and faithfully poured their hard earned money into purchasing the church premise. They would drop tool whatever they were doing at a snap of his fingers at his beck and call any time all the time even just to attend to his young children or drive him all the way down the Peninsula for his preaching engagements. They had cheerfully given their tithes and love offering, as if they were their last two copper coins to support his ministry.

They had frequently congregated for worship at rented premises in some nearby back water towns when called upon as part of mission works according to their pastor. I suspected more for show and dance when overseas visitors and donors are in town. Soon, he would be asking for more love offerings to buy more premises in those smaller towns, church planting. He would then operate kindergartens from most of those premises. He stressed that incomes generated the kindergartens are to fund further mission works in those towns. I nodded understandingly but thus far everything seems alright.

They highlighted that he had gone to Singapore on a number of preaching engagements and fundraising. Yeah, I have heard of him before I moved back. So far, I still find nothing unusual. It is quite normal for pastors to do so. Churches in Singapore are quite prosperous and known to be very generous. He had even sent regular newsletters to churches overseas pleading for funds to support his works in the “Islamic” heartland and “Christian” hard land of Kedah. I was still quite okay albeit he may be stretching the hard land sales pitch a bit far for his overseas readers. I guessed just to tug at their sympathy and purse strings.

Then they continued that all monies, tithes, love offerings, kindergarten’s incomes and overseas church’s remittances received had always been banked into his personal accounts. The various premises purchased were registered under either his personal name or his close associate’s names purportedly holding in trust for the church. He explained that their church is an underground church and hence cannot be registered with the authorities as a club or firm or company. As a result, their church cannot open any bank accounts or own any real properties. He confirmed that this is a common practice amongst the smaller independent churches. My suspicious left eye brow twitched a notch. Something didn’t smell right.

They trustingly, more likely gullibly, acquiesced with his reasoning. They even averred that he is a man of the cloth after all and he wouldn’t cheat them or take them for a ride, right? I could only surmise they were probably just uncomplicated small town simpletons, definitely not legally minded, too trusting of their pastor to know that such so called common practice is simply wrong. Any monies banked into his personal accounts and properties registered under his personal name, even held in trust, are legally his personal property.

“Still, what is your beef?” I inquired. They replied that now he had moved to a bigger town, my hometown, sort of heeding some divine prompting from up high. He could no longer pastor their church. However, he insisted that they must still continue to channel all their tithes and love offerings to him. They must also foot the utilities bills for his kindergarten. Initially, for a while, they obeyed and did not question him.

However, over time when they needed some funds for functions, celebrations or even repairs, they were told each and every time to find the funds elsewhere. “They are just speed bumps, never insurmountable tests, permitted by the Almighty to fulfilling His divine purpose according to His richness in glory. Come on, you are more than conquerors. Ask and it shall be given, beg or borrow but don’t steal from elsewhere. Have faith, Jehovah Jireh will provide. Trust and obey for there is no other way.” Against such Scriptural quotes, how could they confront their pastor who is God’s chosen spokesperson?

motivational click november einstein collectionEmotionally, they felt abandoned, not chosen heirs, more wretched than beggars in their own church for even orphans and beggars do not need to pay any tithes. They had ignorantly supported his wrongdoings, wholeheartedly indulged and spoilt him and innocently allowed the love of mammon to take roots in him. Anyway, whatever alleged so far were still at most hearsays.

So they naively requested some sort of autonomy since he was no longer pastoring there. Well, I can find nothing unreasonable or wrong with their request. As earthly parents, we would be more than happy and proud when our grown up children asked for some autonomy, better still leave the nest, flap your wings and fly into the horizon. Instead of emulating the generosity father of the Prodigal Son, he threatened to excommunicate them even branding them deviants and heretics and was adamant they must vacate the church premise.  Sigh, whatever happened to the more blessed to give than receive and abiding grace so often preached.

Despite their vehemence, I asked for evidence. Well, since they were rather unwilling to vacate the very church they occupy, I asked for a copy of the accounting records and title deeds to confirm their allegations. They went the extra mile and extracted also title deeds for other premises from the Land Office except for those old premises built on undivided land and those low cost premises without any title deed in the first place.

I drove to some of the premises. I needed to see for myself their conditions. Most were being used as kindergarten otherwise empty. I doubted any regular church services could be conducted at any of those premises, just too small, possibly for occasional cell group or cottage meetings. And, yes, the premises were registered under his personal name or his close associate’s names.

I think I need to pause here and elaborate further for us laymen what their pastor did was wrong, actually illegal. Bear with me, indulge me for a moment. Hmmn…

Legally, money is fungible. Therefore, any tithes and love offerings should be banked into an account clearly separated from his personal account to avoid commingling. By receiving money to support his church ministries and/or to purchase premises for church use, the pastor had assumed the position of a trustee, albeit a constructive trustee, and endowed with the fiduciary responsibility to act in the best interest for the beneficiaries. The three certainties of a trust, certainty of intention (to create a trust), certainty of subject (underlying assets) and certainty of objects (beneficiaries), are most certainly present in their situation.

Their pastor did by conduct undertake to act for and on behalf of his church or overseas churches to use the tithes and offerings appropriated from them for the expansion of God’s Word and/or purchase premises for church use and not for his personal use thereby giving rise to a relationship of trust and confidence. He had commingled the money received for ministry with his personal money when they were banked into his same personal account. The premises purchased and registered under his personal name and the incomes generated from kindergartens were similarly banked into his personal account. Clearly, he had committed some breaches of trust.

As ignorance of the law is no excuse, he cannot plead that he was not aware of the constructive trusts created. From his conducts, it is clear that he lacked probity. He preached extreme hardships, abject poverty and dire need of money for evangelism and church works only to dip his hands into the money when no one was looking. “Occasionally only what, like that also cannot meh, sure boh”.  In fact, no one had ever looked through his personal account. Audit, what audit? Audit costs money, you know. He should thank the Almighty that no one was willing or had made any police report against him for surely the public prosecutor would have had a field day and as surely he would have had been found guilty as charged.

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Anyway, they refused to vacate the church immediately. They needed time to heal and find a new place. However, their obstinate pastor was not easily assuaged and mollified. He stubbornly insisted that they must vacate the premise yesterday. He even went as far as making a police report to instigate a police raid in an attempt to force them out during one New Year’s Eve celebration. Gratefully, nothing untoward happened as the police chief ordered them to seek settlement through the civil courts. How interesting, abundant grace so freely showered often preached by their pastor from the pulpit yet so lacking in practice, so damn hollow.

A few years passed in a blink, broken hearts were mended and maimed lives healed. Time indeed is a good healer. Their pain, anger and disappointment subsided. We helped raise some money for them to buy a new place where they can call their own. They forgave their pastor and return the old church premise back to him.

Christian community in my hometown is quite small. Some my friends worshipping at his church often wondered why I was so distance or cool toward their pastor. When I gave them the abridged version, most would try expectedly to defend him. Their favorite retort, “Who are you to judge the anointed of God? Even David did not slay King Saul when he had the chance because he knew King Saul despite his transgressions was anointed of God.” Further, they would usually add, “Let God judges him.” Yeah, right. It is very easy to preach when you are not the ones cheated.

My replies were simply who affirmed him as anointed of God but himself? Even if he was divinely anointed, he may have lost his anointing like King Saul. Didn’t the Scriptures warn of wolves in sheep’s clothing? Didn’t the Scriptures also admonish us to be as wise as a snake and to test everything in the Spirit? O my God, why is your chosen people so gullible?

Then City Harvest scandal exploded across the headlines, I must admit I was not surprised at all. It was kind of expected, not if but when, déjà vu. Honestly, I was expecting the Island’s another megachurch not City Harvest to make such headlines. Nonetheless, I was still saddened by the news. Geez, history really has a bad habit of repeating itself.

Curiously piqued, I forced myself to watch Mr. Bill and China Wine. Somehow, I could finish neither. I found not just the lyrics offensive but the whole Sun aka Geisha ala temptress’s performance sleazy, make-ups vampy, gyrations slutty and wardrobe scanty, just too painful to watch, contemptuously distasteful bordering doxy pornography. I can only wonder how the Almighty is going to mysteriously intervene to miraculously transform her music videos into semblance of Gospel evangelism. Even then, I would still give City Harvest the benefit of doubt and acknowledge there was nothing wrong or illegal. I mean you should see David Pierce with his band “No Longer Music” performing in red light districts (Rosse Buurt) of De Wallen, Singelgebied and Ruysdaelkade in Amsterdam. I can accept that certain ministries are out of the ordinary to reach out not to the regular people but to those who dwell on fringes of society. They are not your main stream ministries, very alien, very loud, very weird and very provocative. Yet, I am still fine with all so long as the Good News is shared.

Well, City Harvest’s Crossover Project, like any projects, needed money, lots of it if you want to make any significant inroads into the MTV world. “Hey, we have some idle cash in the church building fund, let’s use that first in the meantime and pay back later. Let’s talk about pay back later when we come to the bridge. Come on people, it is for a good cause, divine mind you.”

The day of reckoning inevitably came to pass. “Oops, the Project is a flop. Don’t worry. I have found someone to donate some love offering to cover the money expended for Crossover. Let’s create some paper trail to treat that money coming in as redemption of some bond investment, to regularize the books. What round tripping? No loss to the church, brother. Okay everybody, capeesh?”

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Now that the trial has ended all 6 charged, Co-founder of City Harvest Kong Hee, his deputy Tan Ye Peng, former church accountant Serina Wee, former church finance manager Sharon Tan, former investment manager Chew Eng Han and former CHC board member John Lam, have all been found guilty as charged for all the charges of criminal breach of trust and falsification of accounts. All six were clearly involved in the misuse of the church Building Fund to finance the Crossover Project and to later create some sort of sham bond investments with supporting audit paper trail to cover up the former.

The guilty verdict which was not unexpected did send grievous shock waves throughout the Island and almost rent asunder the Island’s Christian community with City Harvest in the epicenter. Heated debates and emotions on both sides of the divide flared vociferously and raged on unabated. One side proclaimed justice done and vindications while the other decried miscarriage of justice, innocent mistake and pure motives. Whatever they may be, let them ventilate their feelings and frustrations and allow time to assuage and heal mysteriously. Didn’t God created time? Didn’t the Almighty say He works in mysterious ways? So please say your peace graciously and please allow your detractors to say theirs graciously too. Let’s just agree to disagree and move on with life.

Kong Hee, I am certain, has (not had) started off well. I had the privilege of witnessing his works and honor of listening to his preaching of the Word. I would add he is definitely gifted and called by the Almighty. Although he seems to be a man after God’s heart, but he still remains, albeit chosen or even anointed, a carnal man nonetheless and most definitely not God. And to err is human. Kong Hee did err when he surreptitiously dipped his hands into the church building fund for funds to finance the Crossover project. He knew it was wrong. Instead of coming clean on the onset with his flock and get their agreement which is in all likelihood a given, he took the most convenient route. However pure or morally justifiable his actions may be, the crux of the matter is he did misappropriate the church building fund and later tried to cover up the misappropriation.

Coming clean even at this stage and seeking his flock’s ratification, he would most probably be let off with a stern warning by the Regulators for an innocent breach. Instead, he decided pull wool over everyone’s eyes by creating the rather convoluted sham bond investments and paper trail. If he had done nothing at this stage, the prosecutor would be facing an almost impossible uphill task of proving any prior knowledge of wrongdoing and/or the intention to deceive or dishonesty. Ask any prosecutor, he will relate how hard it is for him to prove a negative in court where the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty. Ask any judge, he will confide that the best explanation is no explanation. The Defendants’ explanations were just too complicated and convoluted, too thorough and professional, to be genuine more like an afterthought arrangement to cover all bases to cover-up prior misappropriation of the church building fund.

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I am neither City Harvest’s nor Kong Hee’s detractor. I too feel the pain and sadness. Yes, he did sacrifice much for the expansion of His kingdom. Yes, he did bless many lives. Yes, he did not make any personal financial gain. Yes, he was most likely ill-advised. Perhaps, the matter should have been settled quietly internally. But, now it is already water under the bridge. No, the guilty verdict is not wrong. No, there is no miscarriage of justice. No, it is also not devilry or spiritual attacks or works of the principalities and powers in high places. Remember, Romans 8:28, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” All things refer to both good and bad. Uphold all six as they await sentencing, their families, City Harvest and the rest of the Body in your prayers. Pray not simply for some divine reversal of their convictions but like our Lord in Gethsemane pray for the Father’s will to be done. Prayer for repentance and forgiveness, pray for grace to abound and pray for the strength to live according to His purpose.

In closing, let’s pray the Lord’s Prayer, “Our Father, which art in heaven, hallowed be thy name; thy kingdom come; thy will be done, in earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive them that trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, forever and ever. Amen.”

Kick the Damn Tyres

My desk phone rang. I picked it up on the third ring. I politely returned his greetings. The voice sounded hollow and distant, most likely an overseas call. Mind you, it was pre-VOIP era and mobile phones were probably still in the laboratory. Anyway, I inquired as to the reasons for the call as I was not familiar with his English name.  He spoke Queen’s English with a tint of foreign accent, as if he were trying to pass off himself as an English gentleman. I let him articulate at length the purpose of his call.

He started by commending me of my success in life as if he were my close acquaintance. I guess to soften me up so that I would put down my guard. I immediately detected disingenuousness in his charm coated flatteries. He mentioned that he came across my name from some Wall Street sophisticated investors list. Yeah right, it was called the Suckers List. I held my peace. Then he went on to introduced his company which sounded like some Wall Street firm. Interesting, Wall Street twice in the same breath, I must be proud to be listed and now this personal call.

Millennia Falcon Plc

Before I could interrupt, he quickly continued that his firm had recently come across some sensitive insider information on certain US-based company whose shares were listed and quoted on the Stock Exchange of New York. The price of that company will be going through the roof once the information is made public and you do not want to miss this once in a life time opportunity to ride the upswing. He sounded credibly convincing.

I tapped on my desktop and checked the name of the company on Bloomberg. Yup, it is there. He prattled on with his sales pitch that I should jump onto the bandwagon as soon as yesterday. He assured that his firm should be able to get a block of the shares just for me if I am interested. When I did not reply immediately, he quickly continued and gave me the settlement details of his firm’s banker in Singapore, a very reputable Main Street bank, to allay any doubt. I played along and asked how much should I invest.

“Let’s start small. Small bite size investments to get know him and his firm. How about US$100,000?” he replied. I dilly dallied. He sensed my reluctance and downsized the amount to US$50,000 which rapidly dropped to only US$10,000. Come, Mr. Successful and Sophisticated Investor, you could surely afford to punt US$10,000, small change, right. I hemmed and hawed noncommittally just to drag the phone call as long as I could. International call charges were exorbitantly expensive in those days.

I could smell his desperation when he lowered the figure to just US$1,000. Then I asked whether his investors list has any details of my current employer as Nomura Securities? Either the name did not register or his synapses were busy firing away for ideas as he sounded distracted when he lowered the figure to a meagerly US$500. I re-iterated that Nomura Securities happened to be one of the world’s largest securities houses. We eat and shit securities at Nomura 24/7. I told him point blank to get a proper job in a proper firm, not in his present bucket shop and stop conning people. I slammed down the phone and could not wipe the smile off my face for the rest of the afternoon.

If I had remitted the US$100,000 that will probably be the last time I see my money. Any attempt to trace the firm thereafter will probably end up at some non-existent address on Smoky Mountain slum or below Chao Phraya River. If the initial remittance is small, they would most likely follow up with some fictitious favorable analyst reports of missed opportunity to lure me into investing a larger sum before they magically disappear into thin air.

We call these firms, bucket shops, because the “bucketeers” simply take all the investment monies, metaphorically putting them into a bucket, without any executions of the underlying transactions through any regulated Stock Exchanges, i.e. no transfer or delivery of the underlying securities. These non-existent transactions are only nominally recorded on the firm’s books and any supporting letters, contract notes and/or confirmations would be generated and printed in-house. Such firms could be easily and are always set up to operate in any unregulated countries outside the reach of the regulators of the underlying securities and where the regulations over such stock broking activities are lax.

Starship Bucket

Don’t be fooled by correspondence printed on premium papers with embossed letterhead, official looking contract notes and/or statements of account sent to you. They are all easily generated and printed in-house. Even the accurate analyst reports are but a cut and paste away, and remember hind sight forecasts are always accurate. Such firm can be easily set up, simple and rudimentary with only a telephone, desktop and printer, and of course a slick financial jargon coated forked tongue. You don’t need a Starship Enterprise.

One simple way to imagine the above is to picture your placing of some side-bets with illegal bookies. You can be assured of your winning’s payout with Magnum or Toto. Illegal bookies will probably be around to payout small winnings but once you hit the jackpot, they will likely make a Houdini disappearing act before you.

Since I mentioned that my “bucketeer” claimed to have some sensitive insider information, as would most “bucketeers” in town, you would probably want to know what is so sensitive, who is the insider and what information am I talking about? I believe we have all read or heard about so and so had been convicted for insider trading. The key word is trading. If you happened to get your hand on some insider information of relevant listed company but do nothing about it, you can sleep soundly at night. No Hollywood FBI poundings on your door at midnight.

However, if you trade (buy or sell) in the underlying securities when in possession of such information then pray that the prosecutor would deem you too small a minnow to fry in court, a waste of time and money, stamped “No Further Action”. However, that does not mean you will not be cordially invited for some not too pleasant coffee catch up with the regulator’s investigation, probably interrogation, team. Why put the Sword of Damocles above your bed, right?

Sensitive information is essentially confidential information of the company which may affect the price of its listed shares that is yet to be announced or made public. Insiders are those officer or executives who have or have access to such confidential information. They are usually restricted from trading in the relevant shares for a blackout period prior to the announcement of or making public such information. Whether the information is favorable or adverse, whether you make a profit or suffer a loss or just breakeven and whether the price of the shares goes up or down or stays the same, so long as you buy or sell the shares you are in breach of insider trading regulations, “SALAH”. Additionally, be careful about passing such information to family members or close friends or anyone because if they act on it, you are culpable by association, also “SALAH”.

Anyway, most of these insiders are usually quite clever covering up their tracks. Trading through some distant and multi-layer anonymous nominees set up in some foreign tax haven countries or as part of some trading program of some international offshore funds. They operate in the unfathomable murky world of global finance no much different from predatory sharks swimming in the deep murky ocean, both are difficult to find and damn difficult to catch. Perhaps, that explains the dearth of their convictions from insider trading.

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I am more concern with the aunties and uncles, unsophisticated or non-accredited investors or just plain retail investors as they are called world of high finance, minnows. They are most likely the ones who would not be able to discern whether the insider information is real or fictitious and whether leaked intentionally or inadvertently. In most cases, they are likely to buy up if the information is favorable, and sell down if adverse. This decision is correct if the information is real but our innocent aunties and uncles may innocently end up being prosecuted for insider trading. On the other hand, if the information is fictitious, our innocent aunties and uncles though will not face prosecution but they would in all likelihood lose their skirts or pants. Heads they lose tails they also lose.

Clever insiders can easily manipulate our minnows through misinformation. Any insider information leaked will be happily lapped up by them when it seems to be from the horse’s mouth, or more aptly shark’s jaws. These insiders could easily leak favorable misinformation to deceive the market into buying up their shares, knowing that they can later buy them back cheaper once the real adverse information is announced. In finance jargon, they short the shares only to buy back to cover post- announcement.

On the flip side, they could leak adverse misinformation to lure the market into selling down the shares to them and they can later sell back at a higher price after the real favorable information is announced. In finance jargon, they long the shares only to sell back into the market post-announcement.

My rule of thumb is quite simple if the purported insider information has finally trickled down to our aunties and uncles who inhabit the lowest rung of the investment world it is most likely rumors or stale, has been acted upon, too late, the boat has already left harbor. And even if it is from the horse’s mouth, I would take it with a bowl of salt. Remember, heads you lose tails you also lose. So it is safest to just ignore them altogether.

Remember the rough and tumble of the securities markets are not meant for the faint hearted. Be prepared for the volatility. If you can’t sleep when prices go against your positions you are probably better off investing in calmer waters like unit trusts or mutual funds or just placing your money in fixed deposits. If there is some iron in your heart, do your homework on the companies before investing in their shares. Check them thoroughly out first. Open the bonnet and kick the damn tyres. Focus on fundamentals.

Don’t simply follow the herd. Remember sharks may just be corralling their dinner. Don’t be easily swayed by braggarts. Remember success has many mothers, failure is an orphan. Don’t blindly embrace analysts’ views. Remember in strong winds even turkeys fly. Don’t get anxious if miss buying at the lowest trough or selling at the highest crest. Remember you are just human, not perfect, like everybody else.

Take a longer term view to ease the ache and moderate ecstasy. Try to avoid volatilities from contra trades. They are for brave hearts. Invest only the sum you could afford to lose. Preferably, try not to borrow. Yeah, I know it is always once in a lifetime opportunity. Your reliable source said so. Before you get carried away just remember bankers are fair weather friends. Finally, if you think you can outsmart the market, not think again, just don’t for it will inevitably bring about your precipitous downfall.

Capeesh?

Everybody, Behold the MLM

After blogging my thoughts on “High Yield Investments, Anybody” a few of my friends asked about the dynamics behind Multi-Level Marketing or Pyramid Direct Selling. Many recounted horror stories while a handful swore of success. Let me muse objectively through my shrouded thoughts, damn the haze (API 249 today), on this much misunderstood MLM creature.

My better half did share about her experience counseling reconciliation to quite a number of couples at the verge of breakup from some MLM misadventures. In most, if not all, cases their misadventures quickly morphed into marital storms when their storerooms packed with useless MLM stock or overdrawn joint bank accounts were discovered.

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Usually, the gentler halves were the innocent victims. They were easily charmed into the MLM as easy business opportunity and probably just to oblige close family members or friends over innocuous coffee or at emotional conventions. Why the gentler halves? Well, it is universal almost biblical truth that ladies care more for their appearance and health, and are seldom afraid to spend to remove a line or two. Perhaps, that is the reason why merchandise peddled through MLM tends to appeal to them. Hence, it is not surprising that health and beauty related products form bulk of any MLM stock-in-trade. Truth be told, ladies are, how should I put it, impulsive may be not so apt, let me see, yes susceptible buyers, easily swayed by wonder cure and beauty sales pitch. I would avoid the more apt word, gullible, so as not to incur their wrath. I am so sorry, I take my word back.

Well, no one should blame them for trying to earn some extra pocket money. Those MLM health and beauty products are most appealing, most essential lady’s necessity anyway. Otherwise, their spouses may not bear kissing them goodbye or goodnight. Just sign the dotted line to immediately enjoy discounts or cash rebates, savings mind you. Sounds good don’t need to bargain anymore.

If and only when the products have proven efficacious as claimed only then share your satisfaction as Good News to close family members, relatives or friends. Then they would more than welcome you, to hear you sharing your experience. They may even be more than willing to sign-up, grateful that you thought of them first. Always remember, you will enjoy further cash rebates even on their purchases so long as you continue to spend your minimum sum. Sounds great don’t need to spend more to enjoy bonus incentive. Otherwise, just drop out anytime and treat the small sum spent as tuition fee, and hopefully you did not in the meantime suffer any allergic reactions, however mild. Guess no harm trying.

Well, if you are worried that you are not the most convincing of recruiters or a quiet introvert type, worry no more and rest assured for help is but a press of the handphone button away. Just invite your potentials for coffee to network with your successful uplines. They will take it from there. Or you may invite them to your upline’s home for dinner. Alternatively, you may wish to invite them to the lavish glitzy conventions where celebrity speakers grace the stage. Sounds grand don’t need to hard sell anymore. Fret not your dear ones will not avoid you like a plague and your phone calls will not automatically be routed into a voice mail anymore.

It is all about you, your personal journey to health and wealth. Most people today, in their youth, strive for wealth at the expense of their health to only spend their wealth to regain their health in their twilight years. You will be empowered not just as any consumers but also as wise consumer cum business owner. You will be enabled to grow your business and wealth exponentially while ensuring your health as well. Damn. Their sale pitch is most persuasive and promising. Sounds so easy and healthy don’t need to put in too much effort to grow customer base exponentially. Depart you from me, o white hair and crow’s feet.

Help is readily at hand, on hand, to recruit more to replace expected natural attrition and drop outs and/or strengthen your downline base. Further, upon achieving certain milestones, you will be going for an all expense paid holiday or given the keys to a luxury continental car. Next you may find yourself basking in the glamour and limelight at lavish glitzy conventions, waltzing down the red carpet like Bollywood movie stars and Hollywood celebrities and even crowned as Disney royalties.

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Let’s just begin your journey in baby steps, first sign the dotted line. Then try sharing your feel good experience on a personal one-to-one basis over coffee. Colorful flip charts will be availed to guide you. After that, try sharing your achievements in small group settings at home over dinner. White boards or OHP, no problem. Once you are ready, you may be invited to take the podium to share your accomplishments at lavish seminars, and may be, who knows, even grace the stage at national conventions. Spot lights, microphones and cinematic projectors, already done. The sky is the limit.

The experience sounds like, looks like and feels like the personal journey of those who profess to be the followers of the biblical Son of God nailed on the rugged cross 2 millennia ago. Navigator’s buddy evangelism, Home Cell Group dynamics, Church Worship services and National Evangelism Rallies. Perhaps in all likelihood that is where MLM got its idea or may be from more ancient Pharaoh’s pyramids.

Admittedly, the MLM strategy albeit even a carbon copy of the biblical evangelism strategy, is still rather ingenious and most importantly, it works perfectly. Simply replacing the Word with products and I dare say voila you have re-invented one of the most effective business models. Jesus started with 12, and today there are billions. There is nothing evil or wrong with it. It is just business. Empowering consumers as business owners makes common business sense. Earn while you spend with a chance to potentially reach for the sky. No one in the right frame of mind would want to miss out on such an opportunity. Under such a model, every owner automatically becomes not just a captive but also a repeat loyal customer, the very dream of any business.

You decide when you want to be millionaire or even multi-millionaire and set your recruitment pace accordingly. The more aggressive your recruitment efforts the faster you will build up your pyramid and the quicker you earn your big money.

From investment risk-reward perspective, MLM platform provides an almost ideal investment structure wherein investments (purchases) are relatively small in comparison to the potentially astronomical returns (cash rebates). Multitudes had heard about MLM, many signed up and quite a number earned their bragging rights of making tons of money. On the other side of the equation, equally as many had dropped out and expectedly screamed scams and cheats. Many too refused to sign-on for whatever reasons. I had the opportunity of being invited and did attend a few of such lavish road shows but I humbly remained on the outside, a gentile.

I must admit that the MLM model makes business sense. The strategy is sound and robust. The dynamics is simple and effective. Basically, MLM cuts out the traditional intermediary’s markup for overheads, advertisements and promotions, logistics and profit margin and simply shares it amongst its business owners. Ask any retailers, they will confirm that 200-300% markups (or profit margins of 50-60%) are a norm. Assuming 5% for each level, the MLM venture can support a pyramid community of up to 10-12 levels. Everyone on whichever level has vested and carried interest buy and recruit new members to ensure that the pyramid does not collapse under its own weight.

So you may ask why am I still a gentile. Well, my hang-up is with the products peddled. Most are OTC healthcare products and cosmetics. Benefits are at best sound-bite testimonies and unverified clinical findings. Placebos sold as wonder-cure based on hearsays. Regular household utensils and water filters are another common MLM products; simply re-package convection ovens as air fryers or water filters as oxygenated, ionized or RO water and support them with some beneficial claims supposedly written by some professionals for hire, and push through the pyramid. Buying over-priced utensils for the sake of buying is plainly silly, somehow getting the queasy feeling of being cheated.

Now back to MLM pyramid. Like all pyramidal models, the key business drivers are the recruitment ratio (multiplier factor), number of levels (profit margin/cash rebate) and amount spent. Unlike the illegal High Yield scams where there is no underlying assets or products or business and the only activity is the collection of new money to pay old money with the scammer inevitably running off with the windfall. Here we have a legitimate business based on MLM strategy. In between, you would find the quasi or wayward, the likes of Genneva Gold, Ponzi and Madoff.

Let’s take an example from the market. No names, sorry. To remain in the pyramid, you will need let’s say to spend just $200 per month to buy some healthcare products, recruit 10 downlines and enjoy 5% cash rebates (income) per level up to 12th level. The MLM Company just simply needs to ensure that the profit margins for its products are not less than 60% or COGS not more than 40%. The cashflow for this MLM pyramid is easily calculated using simple Excel spreadsheet. The self explanatory table is shown for easy referencing, actually more for reality check.

Spread 6

You would probably be shown column 7 (Level 1) to grab your attention on the potential phenomenal income you could reap over coffee or during recruitment road shows. Column 2 (Investors) would unlikely be shown for the obvious reasons. Even if the whole population of our known world is involved level 11 cannot be empirically achieved. At level 10, you are talking of every citizen of China. It is for reality check. What is the number of customers that a business could realistically reach and hold? Facebook claimed to have over 300 million out of a global population of 7 billion, between level 9 and 10. Marketing 101, work backward from your target markets and make your estimate, a realistic one please.

Recruitment up to the 3rd Manager level should be a breeze, 4th Director level may be tough but achievable, 5th President level looks insurmountable but no pain no gain, 6th Diamond level quite insurmountable but no choice must try, 7th level and thereafter a distant dream, no harm hoping. Well, they did promise the sky is the limit. The recruitment effort needs to be continually maintained without any let ups just to stem drop outs, and aggressively intensified to achieve exponential growth for the promised big money.

O yes, before I pen off. If you are wondering about column 9 (Net Cashflow), well someone has to foot the bills for all the holidays, glitzy conventions and of course Lamborghini cars. So to my friends who are MLM converts and evangelists, good luck and God speed. Don’t despise the gentiles if they do not wish to follow you into your land of milk and honey. To those backsliders, forgive and forget, be happy for those who believe, bless them and move on with your life. To those who are still gentile like me, fret not, enjoy life and be happy. No, you did not miss the boat. To those on the verge of epiphany, parse through my humble thoughts again before you take that leap of faith.

Let the Show Begins

When I moved back to Malaysia I was initially intrigued by politics. I thought, rather hoped, that the struggle would fair and gentlemanly although I have been told there is no such thing as a clean fight in politics. You do whatever it takes, bite off the ears, claw at the eyes, squeeze the balls and punch at the throat, whatever necessary, lie, cheat, bribe and imprison to win regardless of costs. Today, I cannot but agree that Malaysian politics, albeit fascinating and bewildering, is outright dirty gutter. Numbed, I am no longer shocked to hear that even scumbags and crooks should be selected as candidates so long as they win election. Look at the bunch of morons and goons in the present August House. Sigh, now I am politically aware.

Collage 1

Most recent political struggle that is hogging the media limelight is the most embarrassing and protracted clash of the country’s former Prime Minister Tun Dr. Mahathir better known as Dr. M against his selected heir the present Prime Minister Najib. Like his predecessor Pak Lah, Najib ignores Dr. M. As such, Dr. M has no choice but to strike Najib from his pocket booklet, and Najib has to go.

When Dr. M voiced his displeasure, many thought Najib’s days were numbered. His silence and inactions then were suggestive of Najib negotiation for an amicable exit. It is an open national secret. However, unlike Pak Lah, Najib refuses to go away. He did give the appearance of rolling over dead but he was just playing dead. Instead he gave them his middle finger. Many including the wily old fox Dr. M were fooled. Come what may, Najib is staying put for the duration.

Sabre rattling about 1MDB debacle and $2.6 billion deposit scandal is not going to work. Even the threat of tabling the motion of no confidence in Parliament will be a non starter. Najib knows the motion will not be carried as it will have enough votes without support from Members of Parliament from his party UMNO. The brouhaha by the MPs from the other side of the divide, the opposite side, is nothing but song and dance around the campfire. Any attempt to table such a motion will be foolery and futility as it would never see the light of day.

Even the massive people’s movement BERSIH failed to rock the boat, mere ripples, just an irritating side show. And Dr. M was there, so what. Najib’s counter-productive Red shirt rally was easily dismissed as works of jesters. Implementing the Goods and Services Tax, raising petrol prices when global crude prices are dropping and raising toll rates are amongst the many unpopular Government measures attracted sporadic uproar and flash mobs soon forgotten.

Contingent from SP

Contingent from SP

Dr. M is well informed and assessed of the present situation. He understands his present predicament. He knows he faces more than an uphill task, herculean, to dislodge Najib. He dictated the incumbency. He strengthened the defensive entrenchment, deepened the watery impediments and fortified the protective walls around incumbency by destroying the other pillars of Democracy and corrupting the constitutional checks and balances against abuses of power in order to concentrate all powers in the hands of the PM, his then obviously. He enjoyed his absolute, unquestionable and almost dictatorial power during his 22-year iron fisted rule. Now he knows he has no choice but to continue to wage an all out however attritional the assault if he wants to dislodge Najib. He must attack from all fronts, through his proxies and media, frontal and fifth column, within and without, however long whatever the cost, with only the downfall of Najib no less as his paramount goal. Losing or withdrawing from the fight is not, never, an option for Dr. M. He would either win or die fighting.

Dr. M’s gloves are off. He is not averse to getting his hands dirty even wallowing in cesspools. He does not seem to shy away from stirring shit or slinging mud whatsoever available and whichever convenient so long as he can get his hands on them and hoping that some would stick and stink Najib. Plain, simple and downright dirty frontal onslaught to wear Najib down and force him into throwing in his towel. There is no other outcome, embattled Najib must be forced to tuck his tail between his legs and bow out. One must not underestimate Dr. M. Despite his age, a nonagenarian no less, he is still relentlessly tenacious. His mind is still spitefully alert, his tongue venomously sharp and heart maliciously wicked. Befriend him at your own peril. Be wary when he embraces you and don’t be surprised when not if you find a knife sticking out your chest.

So far Najib has proven to be a tough nut to crack. He has the high ground. Rather than throwing in the towel like his predecessor, Pak Lah, he is absorbing all Dr. M’s punches, rope-a-dope ala Mohammad Ali, before jabbing out a few well aimed punches of his own by purging and incarcerating known Dr. M’s supporters and those running to his banner. He has also started to circle the wagons by appointing his loyalists to key positions. He is not shy about going back on his words. Come on, he is a politician. Politicians speak with forked tongue. They lie all the time, whenever convenient, since their crooked words have the honor more crooked than the belly of a rattlesnake. He is not taking any chances by striking out preemptively against any perceived threats, real or otherwise, to his position. Evidently, he is not a “sick cat” as many perceived earlier but more of a “sleeping tiger” to Dr. M’s dismay.

Stop racism

In military terms, Dr. M has so far been out flanked and out maneuvered. He needs to re-group and re-strategize his next assaults. When all else fails, Dr. M falls back on the over used and over rated Chinese Bogeymen. He did attempt by accusing Najib being too generous to the Chinese at the expense of the Malay populace and somehow strenuously linking Najib’s cordial relationship with Singapore as bowing to the Chinese. That’s Dr. M in case you do not know him.

So far nothing seems to work. Since Najib is not obliging him, Dr. M has no choice but to change his tack. Recently, he asserted that the Malays should emulate the Chinese who dumped MCA when it failed them economically and likewise the Malays should dump UMNO. Hasn’t he been using the Chinese as the punching bag and bogeyman to justify his discriminatory racial policies, handouts and quotas during his tenure? Now he is saying emulate the Chinese bogeyman. Has he lost his marbles? Did the wily of old fox experience his moment of epiphany? What the hell is that old fox up to? Many are baffled. Don’t be, just remember a leopard does not change its spots.

He knows his carpet bombardments have all failed miserably to dislodge Najib. Najib may be shaken, embattled even, but not dislodged. Running low on ammunition, he needs to bomb smartly and precisely at UMNO, Najib’s bastion. As in medieval warfare, he needs to dig below the foundation like sappers to undermine the very foundation of UMNO. He understands the politics of patronage for he created it. He knows Najib’s warchest can only buy support from that many, not all, UMNO warlords. Thus, he is persuading the disenfranchised warlords to his cause and appealing to the disgruntled grassroots to instigate an internal revolt within UMNO to oust Najib as the President and in turn the Prime Minister of Malaysia. He could not care less whether there will be bloodshed. He has shown neither aversion to nor fear of blood so long as Najib is ousted. Well, some said he is one of the masterminds behind May 13 racial riot which was actually a political maneuver to remove the then President of UMNO and first PM of Malaysia, Tunku Abdul Rahman.

Anti Lynas

So far, only a handful of the warlords dare to join his ranks and the grassroots have yet to swell, only minor tremors and rumbling, nothing serious. The jury is still out. The push has not come to shove yet. However, if Dr. M persists in his dare, Najib may one day grant him, despite his name and age, his wish for an all expense paid stay at Sungai Buloh Prison. If Najib is in the good mood, he might give Dr. M the honor of bunking with his erstwhile protégé and deputy, Anwar. However, if he wakes up on the wrong side of his bed, he might lock him up in solitary confinement just to shut both up. Come to think about it, he is better off throwing away both keys. In a hundred days, Dr. M will fade from memory, forgotten in mundanity. Anwar, who? Ain’t politics in Malaysia most excitingly bewildering and tantalizingly fascinating.

So pop the champagne and serve the hors d’oeuvres, sit back, enjoy and let the show begins. How is this show going to end? I can let you in on what I see in my crystal ball. In the end, amidst thunderous applause and festivities, Malaysia finally joins the first world countries and everyone lives happily ever after.

Pause. Re-wind. However, in the meantime, there will proxy skirmishes, media melees, minor fracas and may be even racial bickering and religious scuffle, sensitive but none decisive until the next battle line is drawn after GE14 in 2018. So don’t fret, just live your life to your fullest.

Freedom bill

Pause. Re-wind. How about Dr. M and Najib? I am certain Dr. M will meet his maker soon, may be pre-GE14 and may be post-GE14. You will have to ask Clotho, Lachesis and Atropos the exact date. Will he be arrested? Najib does not need to do so, bad for PR to jail a frail old man however feisty. I doubt Najib is foolish. He can easily isolate Dr. M and reduce his voice into an old lonely man muttering by himself in the wilderness. Remember Generals Patton and MacArthur, both old heroes just faded away into historical oblivion. As for Najib, he will remain the PM until GE14, after which the political landscape and UMNO will in all likelihood nudge him out on an indefinite gardening leave. I may be wrong though as my crystal ball is opaque glass. So now that you know the full story, the cast, props and scripts, plot and sub-plots, and most importantly the ending, adopt a heck care attitude and live life, man. Just don’t go around calling me Prophet Killjoy and do have some patience to indulge me when I say, “I told you so.”

 

High Yield Investments, Anybody

It is not too hazy today unlike my thoughts.  I have no idea for my tapestry of ink and words. Lacking inspiration from brain freeze or overdrive, I wonder. Where is my favorite mug of piping hot coffee? Oh yes, I have changed my morning fuel with honey tea, my better half’s advice. No wonder. I must be suffering from lack of ideas from caffeine deficient induced cold turkey.

I gaze out my window into my garden, overgrown but very green. Green is good, refreshingly pleasant for the eyes, the color of grace according to theologians. May be that’s why the founding fathers chose that graceful color for the nation’s currency notes, the Greenbacks. Hmmn…the Greenbacks.

make-money-photography

As I muse over the Greenbacks, my memory meanders back to an investment proposition recommended by one of my friends during one of our regular Saturday Night tea gatherings a few weeks ago. My mental paralysis begins to thaw, an idea thickens and words begin to weave into sentences.

“The proposition is meant only for the select few who would be pre-screened for eligibility before being invited to participate in the investment opportunity. Apart from benefitting from the phenomenally high rate of returns, those selected will be given opportunity to rub shoulders with the most elite and intelligent of investors. You just need to invest $120,000 seed money to potentially earn a whopping $5.4 million. You can decide how fast you want to achieve that million dollar figure, at your own pace,” he articulated passionately.

“No, you do not need crack your head over the underlying business. It’s complicated. Just trust them with those headaches and you just concentrate on recruiting two more of your close relatives or friends to invest, and you will immediately earn a payout of over 30% ROI. If your new recruits do the same, you will earn another 20% ROI, and if their respective “Downline” recruits continue to recruit, you will earn additional 20% ROI for each level,” he added persuasively. Sounds damn good, right. Some would say too good to be true. To those he would rebut that only sour grapes say so.

“No, you are not allowed to invest more than $120,000 and you must exit the moment you reap $5.4 million in total. They would magnanimously advocate that such a good, more like great, generous investment opportunity should be shared by as many as possible. Let’s together make millionaires, they would selflessly promote. They would also sagaciously add that every investor you bring on board will forever be in your debt,” he uttered confidently. How does that sound? Too good to be true, well then you are really proven beyond reasonable doubt sourer grapes.

“They would stress that they do not just want your passive investment but also your active commitment to share this opportunity with your close family, relatives and friends. They would assist in the promotion and recruitment, if you are tongue tied, just bring them along for the next all expense paid, no expense spared seminars and conferences, in the most luxury hotel somewhere overseas while you attend a briefing some sort of continuing education into the inner workings and secrets of the investment,” he finished sagely. Wow, even I am tempted. Too good to be true again, well you are definitely proven beyond reasonable doubt sourest grapes, hopeless case. No point wasting my breath on you.

money-money

What if you are unable to recruit to your “Downline”, you may ponder? Don’t worry, after fulfilling the requisite 2 recruits, your “Upline” can only add new recruits vertically downward and that applies for every level. What if you have more than the required 2 recruits “Downline”, you may ask? Just like before, they will be added to your “Downlines” at which ever level they are needed to keep your pyramid community thriving. My God, my moment of epiphany, I am believe, I am converted. Where do I sign? Shut up! I have already said that I ain’t gonna waste my breath on you!

Come on everybody, let the music begins, let’s party. The celebrations will be revved up when, not if for you will surely achieve the 5th level, then you will be pleasantly surprised with a gift of a luxury Continental car in recognition and as status symbol of your success. To incentivize you, boost your ego or rather inspire your bragging rights, your next surprise might be a Lamborghini. Wow, let’s boogie all night long.

As with all beginning there is an ending, and for this party the ending is a certainty, not a question of if but when, and when it comes, it will surely be most devastating for all and tragic for some. Only the top most “Uplines” or scammers in the likes of Charles Ponzi or Bernard Madoff will be smiling all the way to the bank.

The moment you signed on and invested your money, you are fully vested swallowed the hook, line and sinker all in. Now by hook or crook, you just need snare and reel in more recruits. It is imperative for you to continue recruiting if you wish to keep on earning the promised returns. No new recruit means no new money and in turn means no returns. Approach you family, relatives, friends, all and sundry, share the good news, persuade them, pressure them, do whatever necessary beg, borrow or steal to convert them, to sign on and to invest. “Yes, it may be tough but remember when the goings get tough it is the tough that gets going, losers fall by the wayside. No mountain too high and no hurdle too insurmountable,” the upper crust “Uplines” would propound and encourage at lavish conferences. “We are OVERCOMERS!”

I can only wonder why and why and yet why so many still fell for such scams.  The promised returns just do not add-up or make any sense, clearly nonsensical from the risk-reward viewpoint of known earthly assets. It is just out of this world. Such assets if any will in all likelihood be surreally fictitious, or maybe they are really referring to some interstellar assets, real estate on Mars, anyone. In any case, their interstellar investments are usually packaged and promoted as some cryptic proprietary investment methodology, shrouded behind some secret esoteric formulae. They just want to shock and awe you and fascinate you with some spellbinding jargons so that you will be too embarrassed to ask probing questions. They would then captivate you with hypnotic figures, confuse you further with convoluted calculations to finally convert you with financial wizardry so that you will part with your money quickly and most willingly. The tingling of caveat emptor in your mind is smothered irretrievably.

pyramid-scheme-2

Actually, it is no longer a secret, quite an open secret rather explicit and well publicized that there is no underlying investment or asset. There is also no convoluted and complex methodology or formula.  They are simply using new money or cash infusion from “Downline” investments to pay out “Uplines” or earlier investors. In order for this to continue new cash infusion must be increased exponentially through equally exponential recruitments. Any recruitment failure, if unplugged, will result in the calamitous collapse of the whole pyramidal scheme.

You do not need to be financially savvy or a genius to understand the workings of such scams. Payouts are only made after the receipts of investment money from ‘Downlines” to ensure cash inflow is always larger than outflow. Upon achieving the predetermined level depending on the greed of the founding scammer, he would drop all tool, roll down the shutters and close his bucket shop and probably disappear for an indefinitely vacation on the sunny and sandy Bermuda Island with all the money accumulated (last column on the right). It is so simple and yet funnily many fell for it, almost amazing.

Based on my simple financial modeling, let’s assume a conservative exponential growth rate of 2 or each just need to recruit another two, 1st payout upon successful recruitment of first two let’s say 33% and 18% thereafter. You can potentially earn the promised $6.135 million from your initial investment of $120,000 at the successful recruitment at the 10th level. By then there should be a total of 1,203 investors in your pyramidal community, investing a total of $122.76 million while paying out only a total of $47.01 million (including your $6.135 million) and leaving the founding scammer with a whopping $75.75 million or if he is less greedy, he might just be satisfied and run away with $11.66 million at the 7th level. As it is oft said, “Everyone has his price.” Come to think about it, they are rather ingenious pulling off such a simple back of the envelope scam probably using a rudimentary and archaic abacus to prey on sucker’s greed, rich and poor alike.

Spread 1a

By just tweaking only the growth rate from 2 to 4 and you will find all the figures blown beyond the stratosphere, at the 10th level the community will have 262,144 investors who have invested a mind boggling total of $41.94 billion while paying out only $4.36 billion, leaving the founder with an astronomical $37.58 billion. “Houston, we have a problem.”

Spread 2a

Understand. Sounds easy, right? I must admit it is a damn bloody attractive investment proposition, once in a life time opportunity not to be missed, right? The scammers understand human psyche and are just preying on our fear of losing out or missing the boat by ensnaring our most primal desire of greed or avarice. As for the rest, just pray that you are not too low in the pyramid and the founding scammer is playing for a huge payout so that you will not be amongst the many out of money when the music stops.

I guess that is main reason why such scams and their derivatives keep popping up over the years despite deafening anguish outcry of financial losses and sobbing sorrowful recounts of suicides. Tragically, I did lose a childhood friend when one of such scams collapsed not too long ago. He just could not face his family and friends for losing their hard earned savings. Too ashamed to face another day and overwhelmed with grief, he took the leap that fateful morning to end it all. However, on a brighter note, I did manage to convince another friend to haggle and hound her “Upline” to get back her money quickly prior to scam inevitable collapse and a few before they took the plunge.

Currency-of-the-world-006

Always remember, there is no such thing as a free lunch. If the proposition is too good to be true, it is most likely not true. Be wary of investment opportunity invites. Don’t be tempted by extraordinary returns. Don’t be swayed by success evangelists especially those who proclaim from a luxurious stage or drive around in show off continental cars. Beware also of those with are already invested for they have vested interest to recruit more especially family members, relatives and friends just to keep the party going. Remember success has many mothers failure is an orphan. Learn to simply say NO!

Such scams and their derivatives come in various shades and sizes, to name a few that keep cropping up over the years, schemes like offshore loans, high yield investment funds, SBLC, Nigerian Notes and so on.  They just refuse to go away because human greed is a recalcitrant vice and new suckers are born every day. I leave you with a quote from the Holy Bible, 1 Timothy 6:9, “But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction.”