If the continued police action, media stakeout and public interest centred around key locations currently going on in the city is anything to go by, it will take a bit more time for the nation’s interest in the post GE14 rebuilding of Malaysia recedes.
A sizeable number of the population did not go to bed last night, following closely on television and social media police action to seize properties at six separate locations.
Much of the excitement and awe arose from the sight of so many orange boxes – which immediately let off the scent of Birkin bags to the followers of high fashion – being hauled from into a fleet of waiting police Black Marias which under normal circumstances would be used to ferry criminals.
Press conference by Bukit Aman's Commercial Crime Investigation Department (CCID) director Datuk Seri Amar Singh who led the raid at Pavilion Residences
Media were alerted to the possibility of something brewing when the police issued an alert of an impending news conference at the Pavillion Residences on Jalan Raja Chulan close to midnight on Thursday evening.
This, and the former Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s private residence in the salubrious Taman Duta `rich-people’s’ enclave had been the scene of police action as part of on-going investigations into unravelling the mysteries of the 1MDB case.
The interminable wait was well worth it for the expectant media. It came in the form of the jaw-dropping scenes of boxes upon boxes and bags upon bags being physically lugged out from the Pavillion Residences apartment well after midnight and into the wee hours of Friday morning.
Conspicuous by their luminescent colour were the stacks of orange custom-made boxes which, to the hoi polloi and handbag heathens like you and me – mean nothing.
Before jumping the gun about the origins of the bags – whether they were personal gifts or otherwise, and who were the recipients – we all wait with bated breath to confirm our suspicions if these were ill gotten gains connected with the 1MDB investigations.
But to the legions of leather lovers and handbag connoisseurs, the sight of so much orange really lit up their shopping senses. For orange can only signal one thing – Birkins!
And they were right, the Birkin handbags from the House of Hermes were just a small part of haul from the police operation.
Trawl the internet and you’d learn how the iconic orange boxes had evolved from the early days when it was cream coloured with gilded edging before turning mustard with brown edging. Deprivation and shortage during the Second World War was the spur for a change to the orange foldable cardboard that has become a signature symbol elegance and exclusive taste in itself.
The total haul from the operation consisted of 284 boxes containing luxury handbags and 72 bags stuffed with jewellery, cash, watches and other valuables. Before jumping the gun about the origins of the bags – whether they were personal gifts or otherwise, and who were the recipients – we all wait with bated breath to confirm our suspicions if these were ill gotten gains connected with the 1MDB investigations.
Public reaction has ranged from nauseous anger to resigned acceptance that more proof of naked greed and profligacy will be uncovered the longer the investigations continue.
Apart from baying for blood, more practical commentators suggest recovery and restitution. They are already toting up the price the luxury items – especially the highly appreciative Birkins, will fetch on the `pre-loved’ market.
Rather similar to the anti-kleptocracy actions being initiated by the Department of Justice (DoJ) in the United States, an auction of confiscated goods will go some way to relieve the burden of debt incurred by this nation by 1MDB.
The gulf between the alleged excess versus frugality could not have been made more contrasting as a picture of Prime Minister Tun Mahathir mysteriously made the rounds on Friday. It showed the venerable nonagenarian engrossed with texting on his mobile phone, in baju melayu without any shoes apparently seemingly getting ready for iftar – this being the first day of Ramadhan. The picture shows a pair of common Bata sandals, clearly belonging to Tun M.
Hermes by they way also makes sandals. After all the unflattering scenes of excess following the events at Pavillion, it is doubtful if Tun M’s equally ascetic wife Tun Siti Hasmah might recommend her husband to trade in his Batas.