AUGUST 7 — In the 2015 movie Sicario, we saw two ways of dealing with Mexican drug cartels infiltrating the United States.

The first is the “rule book” or “SOP” approach, personified by FBI agent Kate Mercer’s (played by Emily Blunt) obsessive insistence that everything be done by the book, is legal and so on.

She’s thus repelled by the tactics used by CIA Officer Matt Graver and his associate Alejandro Gillick (played to perfection by Josh Brolin and Benecio del Toro respectively, especially the latter).

Graver and Gillick used any and every “dirty” means possible (including violence, releasing bad guys, etc.) to get closer and closer to the drug cartels.


As the movie progresses, what’s noteworthy is how Mercer, in her non-stop demand that the team’s methods must be above reproach, actually impedes progress in the FBI’s war against the cartels.

For someone like Mercer, it appears the #1 priority is not so much to crack down on drug lords but to follow the proper procedures when doing so (even if this means small or even Pyrrhic victories).

What does this have to do with the upcoming state elections? Almost everything.


Not a day goes by without someone claiming she will refrain from voting this weekend out of protest or principle, or another saying he will boycott this election as a form of political expression or another person proposing spoiling his vote to “send a message” to the authorities about being disillusioned.

Disillusioned with what, exactly? Oh, our political leaders are manipulating voters. There’s a lot of backroom dealing and horse trading. Pakatan Harapan (PH) hasn’t fulfilled its election pledges. And so on and so forth.

When I read such comments, I can’t help but think of the Sicario situation.

For example, people who are pissed with Harapan for getting in bed with Barisan Nasional (BN) remind me of Kate Mercer who would rather do everything “the right way” producing near-zero progress than to follow Graver and Gillick in doing whatever they can (even if this is not 100 per cent “by the book”) to make substantial in-roads.

Honestly, what do Malaysians want? Do we really believe that refusing to make any deals whatsoever will not produce problems?

Yes, the second most powerful man in the country is facing 47 charges for corruption. But everyone knows what was at stake.

The way things were going it was either PH made a deal with BN or Perikatan Nasional would have likely come into power. And if that happens, we can almost be assured the country will be in an even bigger s*** show than now.

And avoiding that bigger catastrophe, a catastrophe Malaysians are all too used to (!), is why we need to vote.

We can nag and moan about Harapan’s “lack of principle” all we want; I frankly prefer NOT to have to nag and moan about my state run by a party whose leader already failed the country as PM in 2021 — that’s why I’m voting.

Likewise, I’m not a huge fan of a party whose top priority in Parliament is how tight women’s clothing are — that’s why I’m voting.

Neither do I want Malaysia to be led by a near-centenarian PM who’s been spewing racist stuff on social media practically every week — that’s why I’m voting.

The state elections for six states, Penang, Kedah, Kelantan, Terengganu, Selangor and Negeri Sembilan, are on August 12. ― File picture by Miera Zulyana
The state elections for six states, Penang, Kedah, Kelantan, Terengganu, Selangor and Negeri Sembilan, are on August 12. ― File picture by Miera Zulyana

This is something I think the #UndiRosak camp misses. Anyone can find fault with any party, but politics is, unfortunately, about picking the lesser of two evils and, as things have it, often a non-vote is a vote for the bigger evil.

Kate Mercer couldn’t see this. She couldn’t grasp the notion that obsessively “following the rules” often resulted in the drug cartels winning.

Drug cartel lords do not care about the FBI’s SOP. Likewise, political leaders (especially those who are happy to see the country burn for their own benefit) do not care about non-voting “as a form of political expression” or about spoiling votes to “send a message”.

Likewise, do we desire a political system 100 per cent free from horse-trading? Sure. How about moving to North Korea then?

Or we want our political leaders to keep every promise they ever make and not back-track even one iota? This sort of principle would be disastrous in the corporate world.

Would we quit our jobs just because our boss or the CEO didn’t fulfil every promise he or she made? Would we really choose starvation over toughing it out with less-than-saintly bosses?

Seriously, let’s all drop the high-horse act. Let’s vote and play our part in picking our governments (both local and federal) however imperfect they are.

Remember that politics is more Sicario and less Little House on the Prairie.

* This is the personal opinion of the columnist.