At crossroads – MCA or Chinese community?

By Stanley Koh | February 17, 2012
Free Malaysia Today

Some equate truth and falsehood to water separating from oil. The Chinese proverb “shi zhen nan jia, shi jia nan zhen” means if it is the truth, it is impossible to falsify and likewise, equally difficult to make a truth out of falsehood.

This in mind, if MCA is at the crossroads, does it also mean that the Chinese community is facing the same predicament?

The symbolic relationship between MCA and the Chinese community is akin to fish to water and is destined to become irrelevant as more and more conscientious Chinese Malaysians abandon the party at the crossroads.

In the 2008 electoral tsunami, some 3.7 million Malaysians voted against the Barisan Nasional (BN) component parties of which the opposition DAP garnered more than one million votes against MCA’s 840,000 votes despite having a membership population of 1.3 million.

It was even more humiliating that DAP won many of the 25 parliamentary out of 40 seats contested by MCA.

“MCA never enjoyed the support of the Chinese-dominated constituencies in the past and this is not peculiar in the 12th general election,” outlined its 2008 general election’s confidential post-mortem report.

The report also outlined numerous major weaknesses of the party and blamed Umno for its poor electoral showing.

The party also admitted that its accusation of DAP being an apologist for PAS’s Islamic state was not effective because PAS remained silent.

“To worsen the 2008 electoral scenario, MCA was silent when former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad stated that Malaysia was an Islamic state,” the report added.

Umno to blame

In a candid admission of weaknesses, the party’s post-mortem report apportioned much of its blame to Umno for its arrogance, corruption and cronyism, excessive abuse of power, lack of transparency, interference in the judiciary, failure to control inflation and rising prices.

The rakyat’s repressed and postponed anger against the BN was clearly acted upon at the ballot boxes.

Despite the party’s great dissatisfaction against Umno-BN over its massive losses, the MCA leadership concluded that “at this point of time, the MCA’s leadership has made the decision to remain in the BN”.

Given this appalling background and the current prevailing political landscape, it is not surprising the predicament facing MCA since the 2008 electoral tsunami.

MCA has stayed on the crossroads.

Nothing much has changed despite multi-million ringgit sloganeering, repackaging and rhetoric on transformation.

Political mind-sets of the ruling regime and many decades-old issues confronting the various communities remain unchanged or outstanding like sore thumbs in a row.

“I don’t see any change in the political scenario of the country in 10 years’ time. Politics in the country would continue to be very racial, and race-based parties will continue to thrive in Malaysia,” Dr Chua Soi Lek had remarked in 2005.

His words displayed his short-sighted vision in response to a question asking him the directions of MCA in the years ahead.

Chua’s leadership in MCA will continue to compromise with trade-offs with Umno to get the crumbs and little benefits for the community in the long term, while he holds onto a thin thread to his party’s power throne.

Should Chua step down?

Chua has achieved little to prove to the Malaysian voters at large that the party is serious in political and institutional reforms.

It has been “business as usual” in his performance as party president, repeating the same mendacity and dirty tricks of his predecessors.

Accused of being a peddler of false hopes by his opponents within the party, Chua runs and controls the party machinery with no promises of real transformation.

“The only strategic move he has made was ‘money politics’ – distributing money to party veterans and spouses with new births,” claimed a party insider.

In which case should Chua step down to pave the way for a new collective leadership to lead the MCA towards the general election? Will this drastic move then improve the image or the chances of the party’s performance at the next general election?

Tragically, the chances of an improved perception from the Chinese community on the party’s image has been largely discouraging.

“Political image is like mixing cement. When it is wet, you can move it around and shape it, but at some point it hardens and there is almost nothing you can do to re-shape it.’

These words spoken by former American vice-president Mondale Walter best described the predicament facing Chua in removing the hardened negative perceptions from the general Malaysian public towards the 62-year-old party.

Politically reincarnated, Chua is no longer bothered with his personal image tarnished by his controversial sexual escapade in 2008.

He is also largely ignoring the tainted past of his party’s history ridden with a series of leadership power struggle since the early 70s.

Chua failed to lead

Rather than hobbling into the political sunset, Chua is engaging tactical gimmicks, strategic manoeuvres, offensive approach and even perverted logic in his public persuasion to re-capture public voting support.

Hence, not surprisingly, his latest orchestration of a “Chinese soap opera” in the form of a public debate on Feb 18 is seen as a final desperate move to confront DAP, its chief rival nemesis, following weeks of publicity attacks against PAS on the hudud issue.

After weeks of firing blank shots at PAS with the hidden agenda to undermine DAP’s partnership within Pakatan Rakyat, Chua harbours hopes of a divine wind to arrest the steep decline of his party’s unpopularity and boost greater confidence within the party.

With speculations of general election around the corner, the MCA leadership is frantically exerting efforts to reclaim legitimate representation of the Chinese community.

It is a season for theatrical politics. But there is a thin line between politics and theatrics.

“To do well in the next general election, we have to overcome the negative perception of the Chinese towards MCA,” Chua told delegates at the 57th party general assembly in 2010.

Chua promised to check policies against corruption and kickbacks. He pledged the party would not be a blind follower to BN’s unfair practices, wrong-doings and the NEP’s implementation weaknesses.

But the sad fact is that, Chua’s effort is hampered by his own current leadership behaviour characterised by his own party’s old politics of misrepresentation and distortion on issues of the day relating to human rights, electoral reforms, corruption and financial mismanagement of the nation’s resources.

Chua’s election to the party top leadership has been nothing more than another failed leader, continuously playing an active patronage role in support of Umno’s anaemic politics of race supremacy against a political background of Umnoputra sectarian elitist rule.

Instead of fulfilling his promises and aspirations made during his presidency contest in 2010, Chua is just muddling through a bewildering display of barking at the opposition coalition and political gamesmanship to control his power-base within the party.

Chua fooling the public

Since he ousted his rival predecessor Ong Tee Keat prematurely from serving a full term as party president, Chua’s leadership performance has been eye-gouging, to say the least.

His greatest asset has been grooming his son, Tee Yong, to a political climb and his greatest liability remains his sex scandal in 2008.

His hollow rhetoric to complaints about government policies is often tinged with sarcasm and arrogance while constantly heaping praises upon his political master, Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak, for the latter’s commitment to fairness and justice which benefited the Chinese community.

The glaring hypocrisy of his public statements against the grain of truth and lack of moral justification seems to justify that only twisted information exists in the cyber world.

Forbidding his members and leaders from participating in rallies to uphold human rights and electoral reforms are wrong but participating in Perkasa’s activities is perfectly allowable.

Pulling wool over the public eyes, Chua is probably hoping the public has amnesia over longstanding, unresolved promises made by his party.

Erosion of non-Bumiputera rights and meagre economic benefits have rendered today’s Chinese community to be grossly under-represented in equity-stake ownerships in almost all the strategic economic sectors of banking, technology, utilities and infrastructure, lopsided racial composition in the civil service, armed forces.

Notwithstanding the fact that his party leadership has lost forever some of the important Cabinet portfolios which MCA leaders have held in the 1960s.

Instead, this pathetic party leadership is grateful for the occasional financial allocations to Chinese schools and new villages.

‘MCA must work for all’

MCA has failed to take cognizance of the fact that the Malaysian mind-sets are moving away from political patronage vis-à-vis the BN system of promoting discrimination or divisive race-based policies in governance.

“The idea of MCA is not only to put into practice the process on Malayanising and making the Chinese in this country patriotic and loyal to this land but its basic aim is (also) to kill communalism, not to foster it,” said MCA founding father Tun Tan Cheng Lock when addressing the Malacca Chinese Chamber of Commerce in 1952.

“The MCA must work for all and be broadminded. Its motto is ‘not for Chinese only’ but for all Malayans,” Cheng Lock emphasised, with a vision for the party to de-communalise racial politics decades ahead of his time.

Party delegates and critics alike are beginning to realise that Chua’s greatest achievement has been grooming his son, Chua Tee Yong, to a higher political climb and appointing him to key portfolios including taking charge of managing the party’s billion-ringgit assets.

Chua’s spinners might speak of his great achievements in various community projects since he helmed the party’s presidency, but all his oratory of uplifting, transformation and party unity has made no difference in changing the air.
Stanley Koh is a former head of MCA’s research unit. He is a FMT columnist.

  1. #1 by monsterball on Friday, 17 February 2012 - 12:04 pm

    Majority Malaysian Chinese never supported MCA at all…and the figure was crystal clear.. where all MCA candidates voted out…where Malaysian Chinese are the majority voters.
    Today MCA is the most shameful thick skin party in BN.
    Malaysian Chinese have been shamed by MCA to the limit.
    Chua need to keep churning out…nonsensical stuffs…….lies to make Najib happy…and sort of..keep the so call BN alive for 13th GE.
    The truth…the whole truth and nothing but the truth is it will be UMNO b Vs PR.
    It is like from the horse mouth .. Najib said…PATRIOTS Vs TRAITORS.
    News papers and TVs ….all controlled by UMNO b…and keep promoting half truths and mind control methods.
    MCA is now ….sort of being alive and if voters put them there….and we must gun down all lies and Rev. Paul Tan is doing against Hasan Ali and challenging Najib…to be more truthful….and sincere too.

  2. #2 by drngsc on Friday, 17 February 2012 - 12:50 pm

    Obviously MCA is at crossroads. Their best solution is to leave BN and join ABU
    We Chinese have always survive thru thick and thin, sometimes just barely, but we will survive.
    Besides many things else, they stood by smiling while our UMNO gave “pak kum” to our needy old folks, on New Years day. We will never forget that.

    How can we depend on you??

    We need to change the tenant at Putrajaya. GE 13, coming soon is our best chance. Let us get all to register to vote, and let us all vote.

  3. #3 by cseng on Friday, 17 February 2012 - 1:10 pm

    Mca and umno are inseparable they are fish and water, mca is fish, umno is water. If fish died – water stink, if water dried – fish die, either ways Chinese community gain.
    So it was Umno’s fault, Umno to be blamed!, not MCA, Right! If a fish can’t swim, don’t squarely blame on the water. The water current get stronger over years, but you never mind to grow your muscles, keep hiding behind the sarong!.
    Nobody deserted mca, they lost in the way, they lost the ability to adapt to others but their master, they lost their ability to change but be changed.
    The community would be with you out of no choice, but with choice, you are just as umno as Umno.
    Keep finding excuses for you self, such how difficult to balance with umno and etc… if GE13 is not the end for you, maybe GE14 is the right number .. to die.

  4. #4 by dagen wanna "ABU" on Friday, 17 February 2012 - 1:18 pm

    MCA? Apa tu? Master of Chartered Accounting ke apa? Eh kalau benar, I would be surprised. I langung tak pernah dengar master of chartered accounting lah.

  5. #5 by k1980 on Friday, 17 February 2012 - 1:31 pm

    MCA– Master of Curi-curi Adultery, as exemplified by its snake-eyed president, CSL

  6. #6 by sotong on Friday, 17 February 2012 - 5:12 pm

    As long as they could make another $…semua OK!

  7. #7 by mr mower on Friday, 17 February 2012 - 5:17 pm

    Master of Consorts and Adultry

  8. #8 by Godfather on Friday, 17 February 2012 - 5:46 pm

    At every CEC meeting they complained about UMNO’s brazen theft, about abuse heaped on the Chinese by UMNO satellites like Perkasa. But every CEC meeting ends up with NFA. It’s now down to each CEC member trying to protect his or her crumbs.

  9. #9 by Jeffrey on Friday, 17 February 2012 - 5:52 pm

    Stanley correctly depicts MCA as being like UMNO fixated with race-based patronage policies. MCA’s main focus at the “cross roads” is still on how to make happy that majority segment of its traditional constituency comprising the Chinese educated, involved in SMIs, supporting Dong Jiao Zhong, reading Chinese media and associated one way or another with the plethora of guilds and associations. UMNO with deeper pockets from govt funds comes out with RM500 to each Malaysian with household income of RM3,000 (BR1M). Some allege this is crass bribery of voter. Though still copying but lesser scale & in slightly different form, MCA just launched instead through its cooperatives KOJADI and KSM a MYR 50 million (USD 16.4 million) “1MCA Micro Credit for Youth Fund” with loan tenure of 3-5 yrs at 7% per annum for Malaysian citizens between the ages of 21 and 45 looking to fund an existing or new greenfield business that ordinarily banks won’t lend but only Alongs asking for one’s life as collateral! Priority given to MCA members, members of non-governmental organizations (ie members of various guilds and clan associations) and single parents! This a notch more finesse (at least couched like loan with business development training thrown in free of charge and politically correct for discounting political or ethnic affiliation), and not just outright cash.

  10. #10 by Jeffrey on Friday, 17 February 2012 - 6:00 pm

    MCA at its cross roads has limited options on how to recover some of its traditional support. Besides financial assistance by the 1MCA Micro Credit for Youth Fund, the other way is to attack DAP’s association with PAS. This latter course is not working that well – from propaganda value angle- because major partner UMNO is not helping MCA’s cause by chest thumbing race/religious rhetorics or keeping silent and acquiescing to Perkasa doing so.

  11. #11 by Godfather on Friday, 17 February 2012 - 6:09 pm

    My friend in the CEC says that MCA has only one line of defence i.e.they keep warning voters that Pakatan may not be better than BN. And almost all voters reply that it is a risk that we must all take for the sake of the country. We must change a known and proven thief, and if the change we make is no better, then we change again. And again. Until we get what we want.

  12. #12 by boh-liao on Friday, 17 February 2012 - 10:56 pm

    Mah Chai Ada – dat’s what it stands 4

  13. #13 by waterfrontcoolie on Friday, 17 February 2012 - 11:27 pm

    CSL is just interested in the million $ crumbs thrown down by the billionaires UMNO once in a while. Example the PKFZ project; other than that, NYY would get the $1.8 M facebook project. All such crumbs, they are willing to bury not just the Chinese Community but that of the nation. For that, every thinking Chinese will not forgive MCA. Indeed, bedside the PKFZ, they even got less than the total amount given by the Super-Ego to his sometimes saudara Sami and his Indian Cronies! Thus depriving the poor Indians of better means to better themselves all those years. it is sheer guts that the general Chinese Community preferred to sweat it out instead of waiting for Gomen handouts which Sami had somehow induced the Indians to believe and hope for! CSL, just remember, your Community is not easy meat. When they have sweated out all these years, even if you are really speaking the truth now, we could hardly want to believe you and MCA which the majority of the Community may want to send you the white package together with IA!

  14. #14 by Kampong Orang on Saturday, 18 February 2012 - 11:50 am

    MCA is at the crossroad. for Chinese, they are not in crossroad.

    Chinese in Malaysia, like those in urban areas of Sarawak and in Penang and in Perak, are all knowing well what to do now.

    Chinese do not want MCA anymore. MCA is just an eunuch in BeEnd. Yes!

    All they want is money but without dignity like Mr Good person Ling Liong Sicked. He looked good but he is corrupted and now charged!

    Don’t be fooled by MCA, MIC, Gerakan, PBBS and UMNO anymore!

  15. #15 by Kampong Orang on Saturday, 18 February 2012 - 12:02 pm

    the best is to end and make MCA, MIC and Gerakan zero elected.

    Koh Su Koon knows Gerakan is gong to end. So he has better not to contest and be prepared to retired.

    Koh Su Koon has lost in last election. He has saved some face by going to Putrajaya to work for UMNO as a puppet.

    Now he has made a smarter move than MCA, he has better not to contest anymore.

    MCA is not only thick face skin but also greedy for the money handled by UMNO.

    They are without dignity, joining a corrupted party like UMNO.

  16. #16 by Kampong Orang on Saturday, 18 February 2012 - 12:05 pm

    Smart people like those MCA branches in Penang resolved.

    MCA: it is better to join DAP or Keadilan, like Chua Joi Ming.

  17. #17 by Bigjoe on Saturday, 18 February 2012 - 12:12 pm

    Actually I disagree. The Chinese was at a crossroad even before Badawi – that is why Mahathir had to leave and they supported Badawi with his message of reform. The Chinese stuck to their determination even in 308 – they did not support PR because they thought the Malays and Indians were going to support Anwar and PR – that is why it was such a surprise – no one did.

    The one that is at the crossroad are first Sabahans, Indians and then Malays. They are undecided with their various leaders vying from a different agenda than toppling UMNO-Perkasa/BN. Each of their particular agenda whie contained legitimacy, but they have not come to the conclusion that none of them get there without removal of UMNO-Perkasa/BN first from power.

    The Chinese also know that what PR offer is not ideal and while some like MCA can still do well even better with UMNO/BN crumbs offering, for the large majority they know that UMNO-Perkasa/BN cannot offer better. That is why there is no decision to be made at all..

    So the fact is the debate should really be about now we know only PR can offer better, how to make it easier for Sabahan, Indians and Malays to see it is also better for them..

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