KUALA LUMPUR, 18 Oct 2008: Outgoing MCA president Datuk Seri Ong Ka Ting has called on the Barisan Nasional (BN) to resolve the perception that Umno dominates over the other component parties in the ruling coalition.
“Umno is seen as a party that is far more dominant than the other component parties. The BN leadership needs to set right this situation through a process that involves the participation of all component parties,” he said in his keynote address at the 55th MCA general assembly at its headquarters this morning.
Ong said every important decision must be decided together rather than Umno alone determining important policies while other component parties have to defend these policies based on the “spirit of BN”.
He said public perception was that power-sharing in the BN was lopsided even though the BN was meant to be a coalition.
“The power-sharing slogan is often spoken of but it is still seen as just paying lip service,” said Ong.
He said the BN had to begin reforming if it was to rebrand itself and give Malaysians new hope.
“The BN cannot afford to wait or act slowly. We have to minimise political disputes within the BN. The rakyat are exhausted and fed-up from the politicking,” Ong said.
Ong said many non-bumiputra business people were also constantly frustrated because they received unfair treatment from government agencies in the awarding of licences, permit, and loan incentives.
“The authorities seem to adopt prejudice and narrow interpretations of economic policies which are not in line with what the national leadership stands for,” he said.
He stressed that the BN government must review the weaknesses in the implementation of these economic policies.
Ong said the BN leadership needed to join forces and be more focused about overcoming the challenges ahead that have been triggered by the US economic crisis.
Ong noted that the way the authorities have handled religious issues often gives the impression that religious freedom was not practiced, despite what government leaders, including the prime minister, have stated.
“The problem does not lie with the leadership, but the people on the ground,” said Ong, adding that if amendments to laws or the constitution could resolve these religious disputes, the government should go ahead with them.
Ong also called on the government to comprehensively review the ISA because the Act, which allows for indefinite detention without trial, no longer adhered to its original intention.
“The act is obsolete and should be replaced with one that is not subjected to abuse or that causes people to feel insecure,” he said.
Yesterday, the authorities arrested activist Cheng Lee Whee under the ISA after she lodged a report alleging police abuse of power in a controversial eviction of a squatter colony in Johor.
On another matter, Ong called on the government to fully fund the rebuilding of national Chinese and Tamil primary schools, saying the MCA was no longer able to collect donations for this purpose.
He said the MCA supported Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s plans to reform the judiciary, the Anti-Corruption Agency and the police force before his retirement in March 2009.