I asked Anwar Ibrahim if he knew why Mahathir Mohamad put him behind bars when I first met him in person at an event in Hong Kong mid 2005, shortly after his first release from prison.
He was startled by my blunt question, held his breath and responded politely with a smile.
“Oh, please tell me.”
The seasoned politician managed to hold his composure. My guess was he figured I got to be serious or…..
“He saw you in a tee with the word BOSSINI printed on the front,” I said.
Now Anwar was ever more intrigued and stared hard at me with a Tell Me More look.
I then explained how the former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir saw the hidden meaning behind BOSSINI (a Hong Kong clothing brand that was popular across Southeast Asia then).
“He read it as BOSS INI,” I said – which means “I’m the Boss” in Malay.
You can imagine how Anwar broke into hysterical laughters. And it took him a while to recover before assuring me he will remember it forever.
Anwar finally ousted Mahathir and his long ruling UMNO party last week to become the new Malaysian Prime Minister, a long wait of over two decades.
My heartiest congratulations, it’s long overdue. You ARE the Boss now.