I was at a mamak restaurant having a drink and replying to some emails while waiting for my eldest daughter, Athena Azlee, to finish school when two elderly ladies approached me.
They were smiling and looked really friendly. So I smiled back.
“Aren’t you Zainal’s son?” asked one of them.
“Yes I am,” I replied.
“Ahh! You’re the one that likes to write a lot! And you have that Fat Bidin website named after your father,” said the other one.
I nodded and smiled politely. They were friends of my father when he used to work in Bank Bumiputra many years ago. That bank no longer exists (or it still does if you want to consider its current reincarnation as CIMB, and whose group CEO has been appointed as Malaysia’s new Finance Minister).
Naturally, people who only know me through my writings tend to always want to chat about politics with me (if they really knew me, they would know that I am more passionate about basketball, BMX and film).
But it’s okay. I like observing politics and social issues too and so I indulged them. After all, they are my father’s friends.
They asked me what I thought about the whole political fiasco that happened. I offered my opinions.
It isn’t a secret that I feel all the politicians betrayed the voters by making their own decisions to break up coalitions that people voted for and forming new coalitions that were never agreed upon by the voters.
“They changed the whole government and administration without any regards to the voters,” I said to them.
Then, one of the ladies looked at me with a condescending look on her face.
“Excuse me. Who are they? We changed the government. We did,” she said.
Well, okay then. I guess she did. Who am I to say that she wasn’t at Sheraton or involved in the covert behind the scenes plotting before that.
But I still maintain that a majority of the voters voted for Pakatan Harapan in May 2018, and not for a Perikatan Nasional to form the government.
What struck me from that conversation is the fact that there is a “them” and “us”.
Sure, in any elections and in politics, there are different sides. But the difference in this situation is that the sides are clearly drawn on very racial lines.
You can choose to see it or you can choose to ignore it. But mark my words, it is there.
One of the issues that is most contentious in all of this is the fact that not a single component party in Perikatan Nasional wants to join forces or even work together with the DAP.
Umno and PAS both have vehemently expressed that they want nothing to do with DAP. Bersatu, although was in a coalition with them, are now singing the same tune as their Malay brethren.
Umno and PAS, as the opposition, were constantly spewing out speech that involved racially charged. They were always accusing the Malays in Harapan as being subservient to the Chinese.
They also constantly harped about having to protect the rights of the Malays, as if it were being threatened.
Now, these same two parties are in the government and in the Cabinet. A majority of the ministers and their deputies are Malay or Bumiputera.
Sure, there is one Indian and one Chinese minister, but that’s so token like the token Chinese hairdresser and Indian driving school instructor in the 1980s hit sitcom Pi Mai Pi Mai Tang Tu.
One look and we can smell that the Cabinet lacks diversity to represent a diverse Malaysia. Their supporters will repeat sarcastically “It’s not about race, right? A minister is a minister for all Malaysians and not just one race, right? So a Malay minister can still represent everyone!”.
We know it’s sarcasm because these same people didn’t believe that Lim Guan Eng would represent everyone equally as the finance minister. Neither did they believe that having P. Waytha Moorthy, an Indian, as the minister in charge of national unity, was right for the country.
With all this being said, and as upset as I am, I am still going to give this government a chance (no matter how much I think they don’t deserve it). As I mentioned in my column last week, this new government was still formed legally (although ethically, it is questionable).
I also mentioned that because it is such a precarious balance between the two coalitions, for anyone to stay in power would mean they have to be aware and careful with how they perform as the government. Basically, they can’t simply do anything they want without being watched and criticised.
“We already gave Pakatan Harapan a chance but they didn’t do a good job. So we took them out,” said the lady who is my father’s friend.
“But their chance was supposed to be for a whole five-year term. You didn’t even give them two years,” I replied.
That was when the other lady laughed and said that it was nice bumping into me and to give their regards to my father.
I smiled politely and waved as they made their way out of the mamak restaurant. I told my father about my meeting with them and he just laughed.
Now, I am waiting to see how this government performs. If there is a single thing that they do that isn’t right, you can bet that I am going to voice it out as loud as I can.
Let’s hope that everything will be okay. If not, the next general election is only three years away. And to everyone who feel like their vote was robbed, we can still do something.
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