Sure signs of MCA’s terminal disease

Stanley Koh | October 23, 2012
Free Malaysia Today

The writing was all over the wall at Dewan San Choon last weekend.


If anyone still needs to be convinced that MCA is in its death throes, then the loud talk, the sabre rattling and the tasteless pomp at its 59th annual general assembly should do the trick.

The weekend meeting gave unmistakable signs that MCA is in denial about its loss of relevance as a political organisation representing Malaysian Chinese and its inability to regain their support.

All this became evident the moment Deputy President Liow Tiong Lai opened his mouth last Saturday to address the party’s youth wing. He profusely thanked Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak for “wooing back” Chinese support to “Barisan Nasional and MCA” through his transformation programme.

Liow’s tone embarrassed many delegates to the assembly. Some were heard whispering that it was a virtual admission that the party was now so impotent and so lacking in good leadership that it had to depend on Umno for its lifeline.

President Dr Chua Soi Lek, who spoke on Sunday, was even more sycophantic. After his usual attack against Pakatan Rakyat, including unsubstantiated remarks about the failure of Pakatan-rule states, he proceeded to pour praise upon Najib, to the point of mistakenly describing him as a “democratically elected leader”. He even tried to show a fondness for abbreviations and acronyms, which Najib is known for.

The Star, of course, maintained the tone of adulation. Reporting on Najib’s speech at the assembly, it described it as “inspiring, honest, clear” and spoken “from the heart”.

To their credit, Malaysian Chinese are not so easily bought by such gimmicks. They see today’s MCA as a hypocritical and pretentious party, full of contradictions and addicted to doublespeak. It did not escape the notice of assembly delegates that these characteristics were reflected in the decorations at Dewan San Choon, in the change of uniform from white to the BN blue, and in the orchestrated cheering and applause.

Nothing happened at the assembly that could convince the average voter that there has been any credible move to correct fundamental weaknesses in the party and its leadership.

As one delegate put it, “It’s the same old sandiwara”—a yawn-inducing prolongation of the frivolous press releases and the bitter vitriol against Pakatan that the party’s publicity department has been churning out since Dr Chua became party president.

Another critic said the party leaders, while pointing an accusing finger at Pakatan, were pointing the other fingers at themselves for their lack of political finesse and sticking the thumb into an unmentionable place to rebuke themselves for failing the credibility test.

Lesson not learned

Party members and erstwhile supporters admit that the politics of patronage and adulation had been part of MCA culture even before Dr Chua came to power, but they are appalled that the current leadership has failed to learn a lesson from the debacle of the 2008 general election.

Although there has been much talk of the need to change, there has been “zero transformation” under Dr Chua’s leadership, in the words of a delegate to the weekend assembly. His spinners have simply manufactured new slogans and concocted more half-truths and lies to cover up the weakness of his team.

The superficiality of the show of confidence and gumption at the assembly did not escape the notice of even the reputably impressionable Najib. He expressed a hope that the blueness of the delegates’ T-shirts was less important than a unity of minds and hearts.

The Prime Minister has often spoken of the coming election as a “war” needing the dedication of a “united army”.

Can the party win the war with new T-shirts, meaningless slogans, expensive dinners and a prospectus of rhetoric against its rivals? Are members of the public so dumb that they cannot see through the noisy talk and the pretensions of preparedness for war?

“MCA promotes peace,” says one slogan, as if no one is aware that it has a long record of leadership and factional fighting.

Another slogan, proudly displayed at the meeting hall, accused Pakatan of inciting hatred, as if it would not serve to remind the delegates of Dr Chua’s recent rhetoric against Islam.

Indeed, there are many hard-hitting questions that MCA leaders should ask themselves before launching scathing and ill-conceived attacks against the opposition.

If Pakatan is deficient in its practice of democracy, as Dr Chua and other MCA leaders have alleged, then what can one say about BN’s hijack of Perak? And what about Najib’s unelected presidency of Umno?

If BN is so democratic, why does MCA have to continually struggle for “bargaining power” in the coalition, as so many of its leaders have said publicly, especially when campaigning for positions in the party?

Freudian slip

When Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin rebuked MCA for behaving like an “abused wife” in its protestations over being treated unfairly by BN, many saw it as a Freudian slip, and party members were dumbstruck by the silence of their leaders.

There have been many other insults directed at the MCA leadership and the Chinese community from Umno and organisations affiliated with it. Most of these the MCA leaders have chosen to forget, thereby deepening the impression that they have lost both their backbone and their moral compass.

If only they were wise enough to realise that their real enemy is not any opposition leader or party, but themselves.

But wisdom and hypocrisy cannot exist in the same person, at least when you consider wisdom as defined in classical Chinese thought.

Chua is on record as being critical of political control of the press. “The problem is that many political parties own controlling stakes in the press, MCA included,” he wrote in his blog in the run-up to the election that installed him as party president.

Speaking of MCA, he said: “It has controlling stakes in both the Chinese and English press.

“As such the editors and journalists working for those particular papers are beholden to their political masters and would have to toe the line or risk facing the sack. With this in mind, how can the press truly be free?”

Our question is: Why did Chua appoint one of his core supporters, Dr Fong Chan Onn, as the Star’s chairman and why did MCA recently acquire a weekly Chinese paper, The Tomato?

The current party leadership has failed to keep many of its promises, including rectifying the lopsided ethnic composition of the civil service, police and armed forces. It has also neglected to ensure adequate Chinese representation in statutory bodies and government-linked companies and, of course, a reasonable share of political power.

However, the truth is that many voters today are no longer inspired by race-based politics, which makes MCA and the other major parties in BN irrelevant to them.

As for MCA members, it would be good for them to remember the Persian proverb that a former party president once quoted: “The rotting of the fish begins from the head.”

Is MCA facing extinction? Or, if it survives the next general election, will it continue to exist as a parasitic burden to Umno?

Perhaps, as many party members are hoping, MCA only needs to go on a five-year vacation to free its leaders from governmental responsibilities so that they could address their own weaknesses and thereby place the party on the road to recovery.

Stanley Koh is a former head of MCA’s research unit. He is now a FMT columnist.

  1. #1 by monsterball on Tuesday, 23 October 2012 - 3:46 pm

    It is MCA last waltz….swan song…sayonara.
    Malaysians Chinese will see to that again.
    They need to thank Najib for making some back doors ministers and senators…to so call keep his “bn” idea alive.
    Otherwise Najib…the unelected PM will look stupid as BN leader without MCA.

  2. #2 by Godfather on Tuesday, 23 October 2012 - 4:30 pm

    I really doubt that MCA can win in a straight fight with either DAP or PKR. Oh, I forgot, I really doubt that MCA can win a fight with any chimpanzee.

  3. #3 by boh-liao on Tuesday, 23 October 2012 - 4:38 pm

    Finally, Sanusi Junid confirmed dat MMK behaved like a racist Nazi German, but smarter – making sure dat d Malays a superior race here while blocking non-Malays in various businesses (like banking) n making them work 4 d Malays
    Sad truth is MCA, Gerakan, MIC, etc willingly b slaves of MMK, UmnoB

    • #4 by cemerlang on Tuesday, 23 October 2012 - 7:13 pm

      …truth is MCA, Gerakan, MIC, etc willingly b slaves of MMK, UmnoB

      They would resort to all measures to achieve what they want to achieve

  4. #5 by Bigjoe on Tuesday, 23 October 2012 - 4:51 pm

    The single most important step to check the march of Islamic state is Reform. UMNO/BN corruption, abuse of power, poor management, is an even bigger threat to the potential of Hudud and Islamic state than any other reason.

  5. #6 by sheriff singh on Tuesday, 23 October 2012 - 5:52 pm

    It is contagious. First UMNO, then MCA, MIC and it goes down the line.

    If UMNO is the hunch-backbone of BN, then every party within the coalition is doomed as can now be clearly seen. They are all like fishes doing the backstroke.

    The RAHMAN prophecy will come to pass and we will see the demise of BN.

  6. #7 by sheriff singh on Tuesday, 23 October 2012 - 5:53 pm

    Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    It is contagious. First UMNO, then MCA, MIC and it goes down the line.

    If UMNO is the hunch-backbone of BN, then every party within the coalition is doomed as can now be clearly seen. They are all like fishes doing the backstroke.

    The RAHMAN prophecy will come to pa.s and we will see the demise of BN.

  7. #8 by Godfather on Tuesday, 23 October 2012 - 6:08 pm

    Now Mamakthir confirms that MCA sat quietly by when Mamakthir pronounced Malaysia as an Islamic state in 2001. What is CSL going to say now ? Bukan gua bikin ?

  8. #9 by SENGLANG on Tuesday, 23 October 2012 - 7:46 pm

    I felt very sad as this so call party that represent the Chinese is finally breathing their last few breath, it was very much a pity that MCA is dying in this manner. The died by wearing no their usual uniform but the blue all this claim to be part of it but in fact was never have a chance to have a say when in it.

    They blame all opposition but themselves. During the last fighting chance they seek refuge in their new creation of Ah Jib Kor. Sing praises and not forgetting to tell mouthful of lies. They also not forget to say their farewell by offering threats and create fears just like a mother who could not couch her son by saying that mata-mata is coming to catch you if you do not behave. MCA is just like this mother who always put fears and threats to her children. But MCA has forgotten the voters are no longer a child a voter must be 21 and above.

    It was a real pity, that MCA in its final days has nothing to offer but only fears and threats that they can think off. Even their great grand leader also say MCA did not meant what they say but merely to scare off the wiser voters of today.

    Sad, sad and really sad. But do not blame DAP. Do Not blame PAS but it is all they folly for not keeping to their principles.

  9. #10 by rockdaboat on Wednesday, 24 October 2012 - 2:36 am

    MCA has stooped to a such a low level that it has become a laughing stock.

    Between MCA and a heap of shit, I think majority of the Malaysian Chinese will vote for the latter.

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