Whenever I travel, I have the habit of striking up conversations with strangers in the street, in the coffee shop, at the train station—in fact, almost anywhere I go to. It's quite interesting to talk to people; you'd be surprised at how much you can learn from these conversations. You get to see things from very different perspectives, through the eyes of people from all walks of life.
Therefore, whenever I ride in a cab, especially when it's a long ride, I take every opportunity to start a conversation with the cabbie. The topic can be about the stressful life in the city; about the traffic jams; and everyday stuff. And inevitably, sometimes politics would also crop up, although it's not my favourite subject.
I was in KL last week on a business trip. When it was time to come home to KK, I took a cab from Mid Valley to the airport—a journey that took about an hour. As we left Mid Valley, we started talking about cab fares, traffic jams and general stuff about how to get a taxi permit in KL.
But soon after, the cabbie started talking about politics. It wasn't a particularly enjoyable topic, but I can't force others to talk only about the things I like to talk about, you see. Unfortunately, little did I know the cabbie got all too excited until our little conversation soon became a lecture. Before long, he was the only one who's talking, while I was reduced to just listening to him talk. Now many of those who really know me well would find that a bit extraordinary, because quite frankly, usually I'm the one who's doing most of the talking!
Apparently, according on his "survey", except for Melaka and Johor, all the other states in West Malaysia will fall to the Opposition Party in the coming General Election! 100% of the Chinese and at least 50% of the Indians will be voting for the Opposition. And at least half of the Malays will also vote for the Opposition. Heck, doesn't sound like it's gonna be very pleasant for the ruling party!
In the excitement of the political lecture, the cabbie suddenly asked me who I would vote for in the coming General Election. Well, looking at his demeanor, I quickly said "Of course I would vote for the Opposition!" (note the "of course"). I mean it's not a pleasant thought to get kicked out of the cab in the middle of nowhere, and then missing my flight home. He sighed a big relief upon hearing my answer—as if satisfied that he had successfully convinced yet another passenger to vote for the Opposition.
The truth is that I still can't make up my mind up to now! And that is very strange, really. I have all the reasons to vote the present government out of office—corruption is still rampant, racial politics is still the order of the day in spite of the "1Malaysia" rubbish, fair election is still a dream; too many reasons to kick all these people out!
The only trouble is that I have a hard time convincing myself that the Opposition can do any better. And I'm not a big fan of the notion of "changing a government for the sake of changing the government, in the hope that the new government can do a better job." I don't find the idea to "keep changing the government until we can get a good one" very amusing.
If ever I vote for a new government, I must be convinced that that new government can do a better job; but right now, I just can't see anything better than the rotten deal that we've had for over half a century. I'm just unprepared to gamble whatever little that we have at the moment, on someone in the likes of Anwar Ibrahim; and of course most certainly not Jeffrey Kitingan (note that "of course" again).
But I admit that there are many, many people who are like the cabbie—they're convinced that they can get a better deal from the Opposition. Who knows, maybe eventually I will fall off the fence onto the side of the Opposition too?