Pulitzer Prize winner Sydney Schanberg, he of "Killing Fields" fame, was in Dacca to report on the violent birth of Bangladesh - Bengali for Bengal Nation - when he wrote in one of his dispatches:
"Bengali youths, who just over three months ago were exultantly marching through the streets and shouting their slogans of defiance at the military regime, now talk in whispers, slipping up to foreign newsmen for a few seconds to murmur some information about a massacre, the murder of a family member or the destruction of a village."
Some of those youngsters could be in our midst right now. Desperate men who, armed only with sticks, spears and home-made rifles, have battled the West Pakistani military equipped with planes, bombs, tanks and heavy artillery. Compared to their war scars, Little India was a walk in the park.
We are also housing Cambodians who survived the "agrarian revolution" of the Khmer Rouge and experienced the brutal dictatorship of Hun Sen and his murderous security police. Burmese who may have confronted the military junta who locked up prominent human rights activist, Aung San Suu Kyi, fortunate to survive an assassination attempt. Pinoys who may have marched on the long stretch of Epifanio de los Santos Avenue, more commonly known by its acronym EDSA, in support of the People Power Revolution that unseated Ferdinand Marcos. Thais who could be rooting for their home team in the streets of Bangkok.
That's quite a toxic mix in our melting pot, sanctioned by the Population White Paper. No wonder our firemen turned tail and reversed their vehicle in a hurry, ramming a police car long abandoned by equally terrified cops.
A fifth column is a group of people who undermine a larger group, such as a nation or a besieged city, from within. In the United States at the end of the 1930s, as involvement in the European war loomed, those who feared the possibility of betrayal from within used the newly coined term "fifth column" as shorthand for sedition and disloyalty. If Yaacob Ibrahim is paranoid about cyber warriors, he and the trigger happy "keechiu" general may wish to expand their horizon to scan for real trouble from within our shores.