Looking back over the past year in Asia, it is hard not to agree that the most gratifying news came in the obituaries.
After all, aside from gratuitous sex and fresh Toro sashimi, there is nothing so exquisite as hearing that an evil powerhouse has finally kicked the bucket, ideally in excruciating fashion.
It is not known if last month’s death of Kim Jong Il, 69, was particularly painful, but it caught his nation and the world off-guard – so presumably it was a surprise to him too.
The pity is that the bouffon-haired, pot-bellied, platform-heeled, posturing little runt, who held sway over the misnamed Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, did not expire a whole lot earlier.
The silver lining may be that his third son and heir, Kim Jong Un, 28, who drinks heavily and looks to have an IQ of minus 3, is built like a human slug and has a body mass that doctors predict presages an early demise.
He also has a silly haircut.
What is most disturbing, however, is that Kim Jong Il, aware that his podgy progeny might not last long, made other provisions for the bloodline to continue.
He did so, not by allowing for the rehabilitation of his disgraced first and second sons, but by depositing test tubes full of his semen in a hidden deep freeze under Pyongyang’s military hospital.
Apparently, several young beauties have already been earmarked for impregnation with the late Dear Leader’s sperm so that if Kim Jong Un does not cut the mustard, a new offspring can quickly be produced.
The mind boggles, but meanwhile let us celebrate the exit of other venal beings, and none more so than that of Vietnam’s Madame Ngo Dinh Nhu, 87, who left this mortal coil last April.
Her brother-in-law was South Vietnam’s President Ngo Dinh Diem from 1955 to 1963, and since Diem was a bachelor, Nhu assumed the role of first lady.
Actually, she was more commonly referred to as the “Dragon Lady” due to her withering treatment of protesting Buddhist monks and other dissidents whom she called “scabby sheep”.
Her Marie-Antoinette moment came when she said that if any more religious critics committed self-immolation, she would “clap her hands at seeing another monk barbecue show”.
That she lived so long and died in Rome after only a short illness gives credence to the late Christopher Hitchens’s assertion that God is not Great – else He would have dispatched her earlier and more agonisingly.
Her compatriot in calumny, former South Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Cao Ky, 80, also croaked at a hospital in Kuala Lumpur last July, just three months after Nhu.
A leading participant in the 1963 coup that deposed and executed Diem, Ky was known for his sartorial swagger, often arriving at events in his black flight suit with his trademark purple scarf and ever-present cigarette.
In common with Kim and Nhu, he was a rampant sexual philanderer who threatened to exterminate opponents – and like them, often made good on his threat.
While rightly gloating over their expiry, the passing of Laos’s ruthless, opium-dealing Hmong leader, Vang Pao, 81, elicited some mixed feelings.
Vang led a secret army, trained and financed by the United States, that fought the Communist Pathet Lao and their Vietnamese backers.
His defeat caused both Laos and Vietnam to be swallowed by dictatorial cliques who have misruled their countries ever since.
But let’s end on a positive note: a good East Malaysian died last year, though he preferred to be called a good Sarawakian.
James Wong, 89, a former national opposition leader, was the first deputy chief minister of Sarawak and the longest-serving assemblyman in the state legislature.
Up in his Limbang jungle fiefdom on the Brunei border, he once told me: “Look around, if Malaysia is paradise, Sarawak is Eden.”
Let’s hope he’s gone to a celestial Eden, while the other jokers roast in Hell.