The typical idyllic scene in an older part of Suburbia – a kedai kopi (coffee shop or in reality just a stall) beneath a Malaysian ‘buah cherry’ tree. The customers sit al fresco enjoying their coffee or tea, some nasi lemak, roti canai or kueh, and their favourite hobby, causal conversation.
A limousine arrives and parks beside the stall. Two men in dark glasses exit the car and seat themselves in the shade of the tree …..
J: I don’t suppose this dump even has an expresso or … what’s the bloody point of coming to this place everytime we need to talk in private when that tambi can’t even serve a short black?
N: Look boss, here we can talk freely without anyone suspecting I would be hammering that old man on your instructions. Oh, don’t forget not to call the kopi kedai tambi … it’s rude and you must remember you're going up higher on the ladder where you need to show your multi-ethnic and bersopan-santun (manners) credentials.
J: Don’t bloody try to teach me what to do … I have you know I have a degree from ..… dei tambi, mari sini, cepat.
N (closes his eyes in exasperation): Er … vannakam mamak (morning uncle).
Muthu: Selamat pagi Encik, apa mahu?
J: Diet coke … hey Nez, apa kau mahu?
N: Kopi-o-peng, nasi lemak. Terimakasih.
Muthu: Apa itu mati punya coke?
N (secretly delighted): I’m afraid no diet coke for you.
J (waves Muthu away impatiently): Bugger the drink. Look, your attack has not been effective. Some within our party are against what you had done, and the bloody stupid public thinks we are giving him an unfair hard time. They are even talking as if he’s the leading paragon of democracy … sheesh. What’s your plan eh? I can’t be doing all the thinking – time for you to contribute!
N (deep thoughts for a while): I’ll accuse him of sleeping with the enemy, you know, those other groups who attended his malicious lecture. That will remind our own people that he’s gone berserk and renegade, like Hang Jebat! Nothing like a bit of Malay legend to stir their emotion against him.
Then I’ll pretend that I’m still hesitant about opposing him because I still think of him as our former leader. I’ll bersandiwara and pretend to mull about the possibility that, if he has the decency, he should leave because then I won’t be disrespectful if I fight back.
I’ll put on the welfare face and claim that he’s making our position impossible. We can easily rebut him except we don’t want to be disrespectful. So if he wants a fair fight, which should arouse his pride, he should leave, and go over to the people who had called him Pharaoh.
J: Not very convincing, isn’t it? How can you be respectful, even if only pretending, when you are attacking him in the same breath? Besides, I don’t suppose you’ve heard of the Pharaoh Akhenaten, have you?
N: Akhenaten? Eh no, but what about him? But look, no worries, it’s only for public consumption. No one in this country cares for facts, logic or details except those rocket people, and they don’t matter. In fact they can have him hahaha.
J: I'll explain who Akhenaten was, though not now, but it's dangerous to play the Pharaoh game because one day it'll backfire.
N: Once we can convince the public he’s an ar$e-h*le who’s treacherous even to his own party, no one cares whether he has made good points about those dodgy sale of the motorcycle or the cancellation of the project …
J (glaring): Hold on a ding dong second … what do you mean by dodgy sale?
N (realising he’s committed a faux pas): Dodgy only in his arguments. All of us believe that had been the most sensible solution to a complex problem which would have laden us with a geometrically incremental financial burden at a time when the world’s ….
J: Shut up … you are talking like a lawyer. Wait, you’re a lawyer, but don’t try that vortex bullsh*t on me.
N (offended but afraid): Yes boss, then I’ll drive a deeper wedge between him and that zigzag bloke, you know, deal a double blow to your main rival for the top job. I’ll say he’s pissed off with Datuk ZZ for being a yes-man to your Apah. Makes ZZ feel worried about that mamak, and at the same time, also make ZZ looks like a willow tree, you know, bending here and there with the wind. I’ll create ZZ into a Hang Tuah to that Jebat.
J: Now you’re talking, though I can’t visualize ZZ as a Hang Tuah … and then?
N (warming up): Then I’ll take you out of the equation by pointing out that as a hairy-experienced bloke, surely he isn’t going to burn down the party just because of one 31-year old handsome rookie? Now, that will make our gutless members view him as behaving with very selfish and self-centred petulance.
J (secretly flattered and pleased): What did I say about not going overboard with the ‘handsome’ part!
N (piling on the butter and cream): It’s always easier to speak the truth. And I’ll also play up on that ‘elegant silence’ for your Apah.
J: OK, good good, do it, I’m off.
N: Singapore again?
J (charming smile): Time, tide and business wait for no man, except me. But still, there’s no point in taking any chances, is there?
He zoomed off, leaving a pensive N alone at the stall in deep reflection.
Muthu: Dei Encik, itu budak, siapa dia?
N (pensively): Mamak, bila anak kamu nak kahwin, pilih baik baik, seperti dengan anak SV.