The Broker is not Chinese or Malay, but speaks Malay, Chinese and Thai.
He shows me my cigarette. See, it doesn’t have the stamp on it. I was caught smoking a Malaysian cigarette in Singapore, he said. It was either pay $700 or hand in your passport and get detained until you can cough up the cash. Then they charge you another $300 for the tax you didn’t pay on the remaining cigarettes in your packet.
He won’t smoke Malaysian cigarettes in Singapore again.
As a broker, he does most of his deals on his private phone in a car park, far from the office. We would never call on our land lines, he says, which we all know goes directly to the police department. I only give tips to my clients over a prepaid mobile.
He laughs. He wasn’t born yesterday. He really knows how to work the Singapore system. I’m only there for the money, he says, and places another bet on his phone and sips on his malt beer.
He lives in Johor and works in Singapore. We are sitting at a table and he’s also placing bets with the bookie who is handing out winnings. Of course it’s illegal, he says, but if the police come, we just pay them off. They usually give us the option , pay or go to jail.
He says the Sultan of Johor is very good. He made a statement about the Red and Yellow demonstrations in KL. If you want to join in that kind of racism, he said then fuck off from Johor. What he was really saying was any Chinese or Malay who felt threatened, come to Johor where you will always be very safe and welcome.
Tomorrow the Chinese celebrate the end of the Chinese New Year. This is the only province the Chinese don’t need to pay for permits to have street festivities, he says. The Sultan said he wasn’t going to pay KL for permits for something that was a cultural festival. He’s half Chinese, says the Broker.
Johor State pays the most taxes of all the States in Malaysia. He said the new residential project built down at the foreshore will attract many Singaporeans and Chinese. They have sold 70 percent of the apartments already which are due to be complete by next year, he said. The reclaimed land for the project is slowly inching towards Singapore. It’s not that we needed to do that, he says, but it’s that we can.
The Broker says the cost of living is Singapore is over the top. You can’t wash and hang up your clothes in your own apartment, he says, nor can you cook. He says for many Permanent Residents of Singapore, “including myself, Johor is a better and much cheaper place to live.”
He says when the canal is built connecting Bangkok to the Andaman Sea, Singapore will be fucked. But we also worry that Thailand will be divided, with Muslims living south of the canal, he says. But he can’t wait to see Singapore get its come uppins. They can’t sustain something that is unsustainable, he says. Without their port, they are fucked. Singaporeans will have to say goodbye to their social security net.
He says the recent coverage of the Mahartir and Najib debacle by Singapore is a farce. It’s ok for them to poke fun at their neighbor, he says, but if there’s any criticism of their own government, they’ll be the first to crack down.
The Broker has spoken and I don’t doubt the verity of what he’s saying either.