FOR the week between 2 and 8 Feb 2008, the political crisis in Perak overshadowed other issues in the Chinese media despite the community’s preoccupation with the Chinese New Year celebrations.
The week also saw the passing of Chinese Malaysian educationist Datuk Sim Mow Yu, and the looming anxiety of mass retrenchments as a result of the global economic crisis.
Guang Ming Daily’s editorial on 5 Feb, titled The revelation of Sept 16 to Feb 4, expressed puzzlement over the intense yet paradoxical reactions towards the gaining of power through defections by both the Barisan Nasional (BN) and Pakatan Rakyat.
“The people would never have thought that the unsuccessful 16 Sept  attempt (by Pakatan Rakyat to take over federal government through defections) could become the fall of the Pakatan Rakyat state government in Perak on 4 Feb ,” said the paper.
Both the 16 Sept and 4 Feb missions could only have been accomplished through defections. However, the two incidents evoked very different reactions from the rakyat, and this is something politicians should look closely into, the daily said.
“Trickery is inevitable in politics, but politicians should not ignore public will because whoever wins the heart of the people, commands the world.”
(© Terri Heisele / sxc.hu) However, the editorial also warned: “Public will is like water. The water that bears the boat is the same that swallows it up. If politicians are unable to decipher the meaning behind public will, it will be very difficult for them to have the last laugh.”
Kwong Wah Yit Poh on 7 Feb urged politicians to focus on fixing the economy.
Its editorial, Stop poaching defectors, save the economy, said, “Political fallout caused by defections will definitely spawn more lawsuits and animosity. Occupied with one’s political struggle, politicians from both sides will ignore economic development, eventually affecting the people in the street and the business community.
“Those who are concerned about politics hope to see an anti-hopping law that will uphold the true meaning of democracy and rid the toxic that is defection.”
The editorial concluded: “At the time when the economy is in a bad shape, political parties should stop poaching defectors from one another, but concentrate on fixing the economy so as not to jeopardise the nation, society and its people.”
Loss of educationist
In A lifetime of service and struggle, political parties and civil societies mourn the loss of Sim Mow Yu, Merdekareview.com reported the passing of Malaysian Chinese educationist Datuk Sim Mow Yu. Sim passed away on 5 Feb night at his residence in Malacca. He was 96.
Jiaozong (the United Chinese School Teachers Association) summed up Sim’s life as “a lifetime of service and struggle”. Sim initiated the founding of Jiaozong and was chairperson of the association from 1965 to 1994. He was later made a lifetime honorary advisor.
Sim was also one of the founders of MCA Youth in 1955. He was expelled from the party for fighting for Chinese language to be recognised as one of the official languages in Malaya. However, Sim was still touted as “the father of MCA Youth”.
The most intriguing story about Sim was his arrest in 1987 under the Internal Security Act for 200 days. He was 75 years old at the time.
China Press‘ editorial on 6 Feb said although Sim has departed, his spirit would live on and continue to encourage the Chinese education movement.
However, Sim passed away with regrets over the dispute in New Era College. The China Press editorial wrote: “Although bedridden in his final days, Sim never forgot about the New Era College crisis. He emphasised the need to solve all internal conflicts amicably.”
China Press expressed hope that the present New Era College leadership would heed Sim’s advice and not cause any controversies that would upset the Chinese Malaysian community.
On 4 Feb, Guang Ming Daily’s editorial titled Help ease the pressure of retrenchment served as a wake-up call for many who are returning to work after a long Chinese New Year break.
The editorial wrote: “The joyous spirit of the lunar new year is gradually leaving us. Many have started preparing themselves to face the challenges of reality.”
The most daunting challenge for the average wage-earner would be unemployment. It is predicted that the economy will slump further after Chinese New Year, causing corporations and companies to lay off more workers.
The government has drafted several measures, such as offering retraining programmes and organising career fairs, to address the escalating unemployment rate.
“It is worth nothing if such measures only lessen the effects in these trying times but are unable to create more job opportunities,” the editorial said.
“More importantly, the government should work fast in recovering the economy and creating more jobs.”