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MCA at crossroads

Crossroads (© LostMyHeadache / Flickr)

FOR the week of 23 Feb to 1 Mar 2009, the Chinese media highlighted the rumours of an extraordinary general meeting (EGM) in the MCA; the reversal of the toll hike scheduled for 1 March; and Umno Youth’s mob attack on Karpal Singh in Parliament.

Internal crisis

A commentary by Dai Zhi Qiang titled A storm brewing in MCA published on 28 Feb in Guang Ming Daily observed that the whitewashing of MCA’s internal crisis was the reason the grassroots were “revolting”.

“However, until this very day, MCA leaders from different factions have denied the rumours of a forthcoming EGM and blamed the press for spreading the rumour.

“Either the MCA leaders are in denial or they really do not know the EGM is happening. This shows that they have been arrogant after being elected and have not been listening to the grassroots,” said Dai.

“If the EGM is successfully called, the current MCA leadership will not only face rigorous challenges; the EGM may also fracture the party. If that happens, it won’t just be MCA president Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat losing party members’ confidence. The MCA’s 60-year-old foundation would also be at stake.”

On 27 Feb, spoke to political commentator Dr Phoon Wing Keong on the issue. Phoon said, “If the EGM is successfully called, it would be the most ridiculous EGM ever in the MCA’s history. This is because EGMs were previously called when the party was faced with crises or failed to make a unanimous decision on matters such as the acquisition of Nanyang Press Holdings Bhd and the expulsion of several high profile members in the 1980s.

“There seems to be nothing important happening this time around, yet there is a request to call for an EGM. This is ridiculous.

“The EGM seems to be directed at party president Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat, and not about discussing or deciding on any party affairs,” Phoon added.

Phoon also noted that the intense competition between Tee Keat and his deputy Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek was providing the Ong Brothers (former party president Datuk Seri Ong Ka Ting and former secretary-general Ong Ka Chuan) an opportunity to make a comeback. Because the two brothers still control many central party delegates, they may find ways to negotiate with the rivaling leaders to return to power, Phoon said.

Toll flip-flop

On 28 Feb, Why the flip-flopping in toll hike? by Liu Jing Wen in Oriental Daily examined the consequences of the sudden reversal in toll hike for five highways.

Flip-flops… (Pic by Wharman)
Liu said, “The Malaysian cabinet takes collective responsibility on its actions. All decisions made were discussed and agreed upon in cabinet meetings. Therefore, one has to wonder what’s wrong when the decision by the cabinet (announced on 26 Feb) was toppled by the decision made by the same cabinet (on 27 Feb).

“The Barisan Nasional must take full control over the federal government and look into such flaws in the decision-making process so that the opposition cannot make an issue of it.”

Liu also cautioned that the cancellation of toll hike did not mean that toll charges would never increase. The hike is simply postponed to the following year, he said, adding that with or without a toll hike, the highway concessionaires are still the winners. The burden of paying the additional toll has merely been moved from road users to all taxpayers, Liu said.

Mob attack

In a 27 Feb editorial titled Umno Youth should adjust their mentality towards politics, Nanyang Siang Pau commented about Umno Youth’s siege of DAP national chairperson and opposition Member of Parliament (MP) Karpal in Parliament.

“Umno Youth’s decision to surround Karpal at the august Parliament to demand that he apologise to Umno Youth and to royalty turned into a mob that impaired the spirit of democracy and rule of law.

“They even hurled provocative words, saying, ‘If you don’t like Malaysia you can leave, this is the Malays’ land.’ After 52 years of independence, this ruffian behaviour and ignorance are off-putting.”

The daily said Umno Youth could have taken legitimate action by issuing a written challenge or filing a legal suit to make Karpal apologise for calling the wing “celaka” in Parliament. But the youth wing took radical measures instead to counter attack.

“This shows that Umno Youth has not examined itself after the 8 March political tsunami,” the editorial said.

“The mob also reflected the fact that some politicians lack democratic principles and act emotionally. During party elections or (other) elections, these politicians tend to claim political mileage from radical means of protest, mobbing, and provoking racial issues.

“As Malaysians become more politically aware, the ‘market’ for such politicians will dwindle. If Umno Youth does not move with the times or try to win the people’s respect through civility and reason, the people will turn away from them,” concluded the paper. on 28 Feb reported Bukit Bendera MP Liew Chin Tong as saying: “Earlier yesterday, Umno Youth chief candidate Khairy Jamaluddin, who is also the current deputy youth chief, called for a press conference condemning Karpal’s statement [in Parliament]. However, Khairy and his supporters left after the press conference.”

Liew was quoted as saying he suspected that the “mob” that  appeared later were supporters of another Youth chief candidate, Datuk Seri Dr Mohammad Khir Toyo. Liew was also quoted as saying each camp in Umno was using the issue to garner support for the Umno party elections slated to be held from 24 to 28 March.

When asked to comment on Karpal’s “celaka” statement, MCA central committee member Wong Nai Chee said, “Malaysia is a multicultural society. Different races have different ways of interpreting speech. This may cause untoward incidents to happen. Therefore, we have to be sensitive.”

Selangor state assembly Speaker Teng Chang Kim was cited as saying: “Parliament is a noble hall. If individuals are dissatisfied with the proceedings in the dewan, they can submit a memorandum to the speaker to look into the matter, and not use uncivilised means.”

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