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.
Ahmad: Muthu, goreng pisang dua, kopi-oh kao
Muthu: OK – dei, you heard about the Australian bananas?
Ahmad: $15 per kilo, that’s almost RM40, like eating gold lah.
Leong: Heard Aussie crime gangs raid the plantations and make away with pisang to the tune of thousands of dollars.
Muthu: Here, crime gangs don’t bother with goreng pisang, they go straight to the Treasury.
Ahmad: And they have their own Treasury keys, or they do it through electricity, water, fuel, real koyak for us.
Muthu: Dei, pundee lah - time for a change of gomen
Ahmad: Leong, lu ai vote PAS boh?
Leong: Aiyah, kena potong, ai takut lah
Muthu: Woi, you can afford to lose some weight hehehe
Leong: Karn Neen Nare, kena that, cannot perform for weeks. If they do it wrongly, mampus lah
Ahmad: Dei, let’s be serious. Will Chinese vote for PAS?
Leong (in deep thoughts): Yeeee …es, maybe, I think, or maybe not. But PAS itself is confused, so why should I vote for its candidates if it can’t even make up its mind.
Muthu: About what?
Ahmad: Leong was referring to PAS’ shambolic confusion on the Chinese support it wants, needs badly before it can even challenge UMNO
Leong: Ya lah. Two factions in PAS now – one wants to open up and modernise, accept Chinese membership, but the other resists ‘religious’ contamination, though both are in agreement that Chinese support is vital for it to be a credible opposition.
Muthu: Same problem as the DAP then.
Ahmad: Slightly different, DAP is open to Malay participation but most Malays have rejected it. PAS, on the other hand, is half-hearted about opening up. But whichever way, that’s how BN continues to be in power.
Ahmad: Leong, what do you think of PAS' proposed associate memebership for Chinese?
Leong: 2nd class nia, just like UMNO's BN partners.
Muthu: So what’s going on in PAS?
Ahmad: I reckon the party seems to be retreating into conservative mood, based on the members' criticisms of some leaders.
Leong: PAS has been viewed as generally clean which most people like, but Chinese and Indians are still worried about Taliban-like actions once they are in power.
Ahmad: I disagree with the ‘clean’ bit because PAS’ refusal to support the IPCMC has been a major disaster. I am now concerned as to whether we can trust PAS. Once in power, it may be just another UMNO, using the police to suppress the others.
Muthu: What about PKR?
Leong: PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang, the one most reluctant to admit the non-Muslim Chinese into the party, has been using PKR as an excuse not to open the party to the Chinese.
Leong: It says it doesn’t want to poach on its multi-ethnic ally’s potential members.
Ahmad: So the Chinese who want to reject UMNO yet cannot accept PAS are in a political quandary. And PAS who needs Chinese votes but doesn’t want to accord them equal status as Muslims are caught in a similar bind.
Leong: Yes, especially in those constituencies where it'll be a straight fight between UMNO and PAS.
Muthu: Ahmad, who will you vote as your area is predominantly a Malay constituency.
Ahmad: Give me my goreng pisang first and I’ll tell you.
Muthu: Aiyah, lu kwai larn lah! Kong lah, kong lah.