You have to use skunk to treat skunks like skunk

Kee Thuan Chye

Once we shot the targets, they would, so to speak, be scarred for life. Nobody would want to go near them again

Kee Thuan Chye

Last night, I dreamed I was a member of a firing squad. We served a body called the National Organisation Against Subversive Stupidity (NOASS) which was set up after the overthrow of the decayed regime. It was authorised to take charge of those convicted of breaking the new law against stupidity and have them … well, executed.

My team and I were issued with orders to assemble at the No Free Cheese cow farm just a little before sunrise. Usually, the targets of our execution were petty officials or party division leaders, but this time, word got out that we would be shooting prominent people. We couldn’t wait.

So far, my team and I had executed civil servants who bought refrigerators for their departments thinking they were filing cabinets, policemen who said they lost their patrol cars in the pantry, editors who ran stories of babies dumping their parents. But we had not yet encountered any of the bigwigs.

This would be the day. We shook hands when we gathered and joked about which walrus-faced or “gangster” minister we’d be getting. “I hope it will be Jit the Tear Gas Twit,” our team leader bellowed. He was a guy with a huge sense of humour, and he hated dishonesty. He was still sore with Jit for telling the people while he was still minister that tear gas and water cannons were shot into a hospital to flush out mosquitoes.

“I hope so too,” I said as I went round distributing plastic pellets to my team-mates. As quartermaster, it was my responsibility to hand these out to them to be loaded in their rifles. These pellets were made from a special kind of plastic that was tough so that on impact, they would hurt our targets like hell, but at the same time they would explode to release what was contained inside them. We nicknamed them “bomb condoms”. Their bomb was butyl mercaptan. A compound that comes from skunk.

People who had faced our firing squad quaked in fear of these pellets. Getting hit by them was the worst form of punishment they could ever experience. They never recovered from it.

“Well,” our team leader would say, “you have to use skunk to treat skunks like skunk.”

You must be wondering why I used the word “execution” when we didn’t shoot to kill. Well, what we did was even worse than killing. Because once we shot the targets, they would, so to speak, be scarred for life. Nobody would want to go near them again. They would be shunned. For smelling like skunk. For life. This was because our chemists had come up with a brilliant formula to make the skunk odour stick. Forever and ever. No amount of scrubbing would be able to remove the stench!

So to make sure we got maximum effect from this, we had our targets stripped down to their underwear. And as gentlemen and ladies – for some of our shooters were women – we always kept to the rule of not shooting the area within eight inches “below the belt”. This of course meant that every one of us must be a sharpshooter. But if one of us should inadvertently hit the forbidden zone, the target’s screams might be heard in far-off Mongolia.

“They’re here,” our team leader announced. We all perked up.