Malaysia's Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi is known as a courteous gentleman, ill-fitted for the brutal and violent world of his country's politics.
But even the tolerant and spiritual Abdullah could not resist a kick at the pack of snapping hyenas around him when he retired last week after nearly six years as everyone's fall guy.
Unless, he warned, the United Malays National organization (UMNO), the party that has dominated government since independence from Britain in 1957, stops silencing its critics, jailing its opponents and discriminating against minorities, it is on the fast track to political oblivion.
It was a harsh judgement, but a just and alarming one for a country which until recently has been seen as one of the great economic and political success stories of Southeast Asia.
Despite its oil wealth and highly educated middle class, Malaysia has been hit harder than many by the global recession. Exports are down by one third and the economy is expected to shrink by at least five per cent this year.
But the more troubling aspect long-term, that Abdullah pointed to in his farewell speech, is the apparent crumbling of the political culture.
Abdullah took over the leadership of UMNO and became prime minister of the Barisan Nasional governing coalition in 2003 at a time when the country appeared ready for some political calm after a couple of decades under the intemperate and stern discipline of Mahathir Mohammed.
But it swiftly became apparent that it took a man of Mahathir's authoritarian instincts to control the feral beasts that inhabit the Malaysian political jungle.
Abdullah was just too nice for the job. Last year the voters gave the UMNO-led coalition its worst election results in over half a century, and Abdullah's departure was only a matter of time.
He has been replaced as UMNO leader by his deputy Najib Razak, who will formerly take over as prime minister this week.
Najib comes to power laden with a mess of political baggage that illustrates Abdullah's warning about UMNO being out of touch with the voters.
Najib has been accused of corruption, especially allegations around a deal to buy French submarines when he was defence minister.
He denies those charges, but they won't go away, in large part because of the current trial over the murder of a Mongolian former Parisian model, Altantuya Shaariibuu.
Shaariibuu was the mistress of Najib's main policy adviser Abdul Razak Baginda and she appears to have acted as a translator during negotiations over the submarine deal.
Shaariibuu was killed in October 2006 and her body destroyed by military explosives. Prosecutors allege she was killed by two of the bodyguards of Najib's wife, and, to the incredulity of opposition politicians, Baginda has already been found not guilty of involvement in the murder.
Independent media in Malaysia allege Shaariibuu was killed because she demanded a share of the $155 million US "commission" paid to a company linked to her paramour, Baginda, by the French.
The court is due to deliver its verdict on the two bodyguards next week.