Some years ago during an MCKK class reunion, at a trying time when a very prominent classmate whom everyone thought was destined to become the country's numero uno was incarcerated on very dubious charges, there was mostly small talk. I was a mite distressed when an old friend told me why certain subjects were really taboo then. He explained that it was probably because of our common fear or phobia of having to “choose sides”, and many would prefer not to discuss anything controversial and risk a “falling out” that thereafter might just mar our lifelong friendships. "Its simply not worth it," he said.
I found this bloody depressing. Weren’t we all on the same side? Can’t old friends peacefully agree to disagree?
Here, Usman Awang’s poem “Melayu” comes to mind:
Watak Melayu itu menolak permusuhan
Setia dan sabar tiada sempadan
Tapi jika marah tiada nampak telinga
Musuh dicari ke lubang cacing
Tak dapat tanduk telinga dijinjing
Maruah dan agama dihina jangan
Hebat amuknya tak kenal lawan
In other words, we probably were all not sufficiently pissed off or agitated enough about the current situation then to mengamuk and to say or do something really meaningful for fear of rocking the boat. Each and everyone of us were undoubtedly snugly ensconced in our respective comfort zones.
I fear this is what is probably going to happen with the electorate in Ijok and elsewhere, but I hope I am wrong.
Me? I have been on rocking boats all my life and have been none the worse for it.