A disappointment to all young Malaysians

— Ong Kian Ming
The Malaysian Insider
Nov 22, 2012

NOV 22 — I had the opportunity to have lunch with Chua Tee Yong (CTY, hereafter) before I joined the DAP. I was grateful for this opportunity given that I had already written a few less-than-complementary articles about his father, Dr Chua Soi Lek, in his capacity as MCA president. I wanted to meet up with him because I had been somewhat impressed by the manner in which he handled himself in Parliament. He was articulate in his parliamentary replies and he responded coolly and calmly to the supplementary questions thrown his way. I thought that this MCA leader, in his capacity as the chairman of his party’s Young Professionals Bureau, could raise the overall level of political discourse by attracting more qualified young people to be engaged in the political landscape. I never thought that less than a year later he would instead drown in a puddle of his own making, snuffing out whatever little hope his party had of rejuvenation and regeneration.

The cause of CTY’s massive loss of what credibility he may have had is well known — the so-called RM1 billion Talam “scandal”. When he first announced this “scandal”, many of us in the opposition were worried that he had actually uncovered an issue that could potentially sink the Pakatan government in Selangor. He displayed tremendous confidence which we now know was actually ignorance masked by cockiness. The utter baselessness of his accusations has been exposed by my colleagues in Pakatan. I don’t need to go into the details here except to say that he has been faulting the Selangor Pakatan state government for trying to retrieve debts owed to the state, something which the BN federal government has failed to do time and again because of “obligations” to cronies such as those behind the PKFZ scandal, the NFC scandal, the MAS bailout, and a long list of other real scandals. The public at large, with access to alternative sources of information, have also figured out that CTY is barking and continues to bark up the wrong tree, especially after the recent release by the Selangor state government of the Talam White Paper.

What I will highlight is the utter disappointment that CTY has been to the young people of Malaysia. The political landscape post-GE2008 had been thrown wide open. Given his privileged position as a new MP who had inherited his father’s seat in Labis, Johor, his rapid promotion to the position of a deputy minister and the access to the resources of the MCA and indirectly, the Star, CTY could have been a noteworthy young leader in influencing the political landscape especially among young Malaysians.

A small but growing number of young Malaysians were awakened politically post-GE2008. Many of them were looking for direction, for avenues to be more politically engaged and for young political leaders who could inspire and perhaps even lead them. CTY could have positioned himself as one of the key young BN leaders to watch by engaging in thought leadership on the important issues of the day including political reform and economic transformation, by taking on Pakatan on substantive issues (read: NOT TALAM!), by building a team of young aspiring leaders to renew his flagging party, by having meaningful engagements and reaching out to the younger generation through the strategic use of social media, by taking strategic contrarian positions to set himself and his party apart from the larger BN infrastructure, just to mention a few. I’m sure there are (hopefully!) many experienced and politically savvy MCA leaders whose advice he could have followed in order to take full advantage of the changed and changing political landscape.

Disappointingly, instead of taking the bull by the horns and charting out a new progressive direction of leadership, he has squander his privileged position in the manner in which he handled the one issue that will define him for many years to come — the non-scandal of “Talamgate”.

The Talam issue is a financially complicated deal with many moving parts. Even though I think there was no basis for CTY to use this issue to attack the Selangor state government, he could have potentially salvaged some pride and his reputation by at least agreeing to have a debate with any one of the Pakatan MPs from Selangor who were more than willing to take him on. If he was that convinced of his case and if he was confident that he could convince the larger public, he should have taken up one of the many offers made to him to have a public debate with — Tony Pua, Teresa Kok, Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad and William Leong. By doing so, he would have put himself in the firing line and perhaps come away with some “street cred” for daring to take on some of these Pakatan heavyweights. Instead, he chickened out. Worse yet, he failed to allow a single Pakatan MP to be heard when the MCA organised a discussion/debate on Talam because he insisted on debating with the Selangor MB, Khalid Ibrahim (this is akin to Tony Pua wanting to debate with the PM), who instead sent four able and willing representatives (three Pakatan MPs and his political secretary) to answer CTY’s allegations.

Perhaps he should have followed the example of some of his BN colleagues who have responded to the changing political times. Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin does not seem to have an issue with debating PKR’s director of strategy, Rafizi Ramli, not once but twice, even though Rafizi does not hold any elected position within his party. And Khairy regularly shares the same platform in panels and dialogue sessions with younger Pakatan leaders such as Nurul Izzah, Tony Pua and Anthony Loke.

Does CTY perceive his political stature to be above that of Khairy so much so that these sorts of political engagements are beneath his office? Or perhaps he thinks that such debates and dialogues are not part of Malaysian culture? If so, he should take the lead of a fellow BN deputy minister, Saifuddin Abdullah, currently deputy minister for higher education. Saifuddin regularly engages not just with Pakatan politicians but also many NGOs including youth groups from a wide spectrum of society and political leanings. It is worth highlighting that Khairy and Saifuddin have been working with MCA Senator Gan Peng Sieu, who is also the deputy minister for youth and sports, rather than CTY on making stands against certain government positions including urging the government not to appeal the decision by the Court of Appeal that section 15 of the Universities and Universities Colleges Act (UUCA) is unconstitutional as well as making a stand against the controversial amendment to section 114A of the Evidence Act.

CTY’s Talamgate attacks have negative political repercussions not just for him but also for his party and the BN. The fact that an MCA politician from Johor had to be “catapulted” to Selangor to lead the charge against the Selangor government speaks volumes about the confidence which Chua Soi Lek has in Selangor MCA chairman Donald Lim Siang Chai. The fact that Chua Soi Lek has to use this channel to promote his son also speaks volume about the leadership dynamics within the MCA, especially with regard to the availability of young and articulate leaders. Sadly, this is a reflection of a larger systemic problem within the BN component parties, namely the lack of young, inspiring thought leaders which has led to the ceding of more and more political ground to the ever-dominant Umno.

Not that I should be complaining. CTY’s antics are definitely helping convince the voting public that BN, especially the MCA, is a lost cause. But from a perspective of someone who thinks that raising the level of political discourse and increasing meaningful youth participation in politics on both sides of the political divide is a positive and necessary step for the country, CTY’s inability to take advantage of his privileged position is very disappointing indeed.

* Ong Kian Ming is the DAP’s election strategist.

  1. #1 by yhsiew on Thursday, 22 November 2012 - 3:30 pm

    CTY’s Talam publicity stunt went awry and backfired because he was impatient to make himself popular in a short span of time. He should have worked his way up step by step like what Rafizi Ramli did.

  2. #2 by Bigjoe on Thursday, 22 November 2012 - 3:34 pm

    Hmm. Surprise by this. You have to have expectations first before you can be dissapointed. Young people everywhere, including maybe especially Malaysians, are ME-generations – the narcissism is necessary generation is self-interested, overly is not a shame even when caught and castigated…

    Most of us are not so narcissistic because we are limited by opportunity or just talent. But there are those privilleged few who are either fortunate (or unfortunate depending on your moral POV) or talented enough to be hyper-narcissistic.

    CTY on the other hand has opportunity handed to him on a silver platter to be irresponsible, narcissistic, fight-to-the-very-end even when caught me, me, me of his generation. With parents like his, what can you expect given how untalented he is?

    So dissappointed? No..Largely couldn’t be bothered but if I get the opportunity, I admit, I am just as weak a person to pile my own narcissism on to him and get a bigger rush from it..

  3. #3 by monsterball on Thursday, 22 November 2012 - 6:28 pm

    All joining MCA to be elected are opportunists to be millionaires…and the only way is to support Najib…ignoring the millions of Malaysian Chinese.
    Father as MCA President..son became millionaire overnight.
    Malaysians really do not take MCA…an important party.
    It’s Najib’s advertizing and promotional work ..trying hard to project MCA has Malaysians Chinese majority support with Chua Soi Lek playing the role as he is expected by Najib.
    The old MCA is dead….just like the old Umno…and the new MCA started when Mahathir became PM.
    Everything changes when Mahathir took over and Malaysians can see …what is Umno B..corrupted to the core. ..arrogant and much more.

  4. #4 by cskok8 on Thursday, 22 November 2012 - 7:01 pm

    We paid his salary to be a deputy minister (agriculture). Do we hear him say anything that is supposed to be part of his job (the NFC affair)? Instead everyday we see him wandering all over Selangor talking nonsense. Does he have any official duties in Selangor? If not then he is AWOL.

  5. #5 by monsterball on Thursday, 22 November 2012 - 7:36 pm

    Like father….like son…corrupted to the bone.
    The other father and son…true freedom fighter.
    Another….son fulfilled father’s dream to be elected and became a Chief Minister.
    Father richly rewarded with that.
    And the other father became PM…son became billionaire.
    Adopted son copied and made brother billionaire.
    That’s our Malaysian politics.

  6. #6 by monsterball on Thursday, 22 November 2012 - 7:40 pm

    “Thoughts become words.
    Words become actions.
    Actions become habits.
    Habits become the character.
    Character becomes the destiny”
    Spoken by Magaret Thatcher.

    • #7 by cemerlang on Sunday, 25 November 2012 - 2:01 am

      Genovasi birthed from generasi and innovasi; a think tank group of young people under the Prime Minister department. So if this think tank group consist of the Y generation, you would wonder if they would come up with the best solutions for the country since all they think about is me, my, mine, I ? But being young as he is, he is part of the genovasi team. They may have lots of ideas but it is up to the powerful ones to decide which idea they think will work. It is easier for the son or daughter to talk to their datuk dad or datin mom and there is more trust there. MCA does not belong to one particular clan. It depends on Barisan Nasional or UMNO for its’ survival. But there will be Chineses supporting MCA or Barisan Nasional.

  7. #8 by tak tahan on Thursday, 22 November 2012 - 10:48 pm

    That’s what it’s being applied in BTN’ racist course all the while,right?

  8. #9 by waterfrontcoolie on Thursday, 22 November 2012 - 11:38 pm

    He hasn’t realize the depth MCA has fallen into; hence he thought he could still talk in such manner. In that sense, he is politically naive for failing to gauge how the Community, he claimed to represent is thinking about MCA at this juncture! He has indeed dug the hole even deeper. Of course CSL has no respect for the Duck in Selangor. He is trying to kill a few birds with one stone by asking CTY to talk about Talam; not knowing that the hole would become even deeper for MCA. Basically, they are all chasing for the last hurray from the tilting gravy train which may derail any time!

  9. #10 by Noble House on Friday, 23 November 2012 - 1:32 am

    The MCA today is nothing more than a bunch of self-serving hound dogs with the proverbial likes of the 3 monkeys. CTY is typical of the one commonly known as “outside noisy, inside empty”. He thinks he knows a great deal more but, sadly, all he ever does was to come up with his cooked-up figure and the display of cockiness and the arrogance in him.

    One should not try to wear a hat bigger than one’s head as the saying goes. The Malay call this ‘kurang ajar’. Absolutely kurang ajar!

  10. #11 by lee tai king (previously dagen) on Friday, 23 November 2012 - 9:22 am

    Know something? Cockroaches do talk. Yes. They do communicate. No. Not by sexing each other up with their long whisker like thingy whatever. I mean they speak. As in they make noises when they talk. Yeah. Like us.

    You see. I had a nano microphone fitted to a crevice behind my WC one day. I do know that there are a couple of resident roaches there. And I am curious, ok. You may say that but no I am not after the noises those creepy smelly ugly fellas make during copulation. No. Not that at all. Well, just generally curious. Get it?

    And this is what I recorded. Transliterated as best as I could, “tiic tec tic tok tac tic tox tiv teek toc toc tic.” Woooow! You might say. Yeah. Woooooow. Didnt realise cockroaches do make noise did you? But really that was only half the surprise. And the other half? What the hell were they saying? I mean, what were they talking about?

    Thank GOD for giving us google. Well I mean GOD – not umno the GOD and grand master of the universe. You know. I have to clear things a little. Otherwise, some people might get confused. Google translated the expression to this: “choooua teeea yooorng”

    How odd!

  11. #12 by sheriff singh on Friday, 23 November 2012 - 11:36 am

    There was a big lorry going around the neighbourhood blaring ‘Talam, Talam, Talam’. I thought it was inviting the public to a CTY debate with somebody from PR. We thought CTY was the driver but we were disappointed.

    Why was this man going round try to sell TY’s father’s mattresses I don’t know. Is it trying to sell evidence for another sodomy episode or something?

  12. #13 by boh-liao on Friday, 23 November 2012 - 12:25 pm

    Pls pardon him, his mind was obsessed with seks just like his old man
    He was actually going after TILAMgate (d gate dat leads 2 a nice tilam 4 action like his old man) but somehow got confused with TALAM, mayb he was a kuih talam freak
    Like father, like son 子肖其父
    Voters in Labis, Johor, pls UBAH yr votes, shove him in2 d dark hole

  13. #14 by monsterball on Friday, 23 November 2012 - 3:20 pm

    MCA running out of ideas…turn to instigating and shamelessly demanding Pas do this…DAP do that..acting so powerful and influential.
    The thick skin has become rubbery becoming a ball…for Najib to kick around.

  14. #15 by on cheng on Sunday, 25 November 2012 - 3:01 pm

    CTY is a useless NUT !

  15. #16 by boh-liao on Sunday, 25 November 2012 - 4:47 pm

    By hook or by crook, Por.NoSnake must make sure his precious son b nominated as a candidate in the next GE, erected as an MP, n then appointed a minister by his big boss/master

  16. #17 by rockdaboat on Monday, 26 November 2012 - 12:58 am

    Yes I totally agree with #14 and #15. If there is another corruption involved in Talam case, chua junior should have reported to MACC in the first instance.

    Instead, he has been barking for the past few months, a clear sign of an empty vessel out to gain some cheap political mileage.

  17. #18 by rockdaboat on Monday, 26 November 2012 - 12:59 am

    typo “If there is any corruption…”

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