KUALA LUMPUR, 14 Sept 2008: Former MCA vice-president Datuk Chua Jui Meng who is making another attempt for the party’s top post, has said that the party cannot afford to wait for another three years to initiate structural and ideological changes.
The political landscape of the country does not give the party the luxury to wait any longer, he said.
"I do not think MCA can afford to wait another three years. It is very clear. If you look at the current 15 MCA seats won in the March 8 general election, you would see that the majorities were slashed.
"Over the next three years, another 800,000 young people would be eligible to vote. During the last general election, 600,000 young voters had voted. If you do not change to fit their world, you are really going to be history," he told Bernama in an interview here.
Chua who is also former Health Minister, predicted that MCA would only have a three-year life span if it does not act and live up to the expectation of the Malaysian Chinese community.
"When I contested (for the presidency) in the party election in 2005, I came out with a manisfesto stressing that MCA must change otherwise it would become irrelevant. We cannot go on with the present way of doing things.
"Times have changed and I did not expect the change to come this fast. It is a wakeup call that we must transform ourselves," he said, adding that the party should be prepared to focus on three main areas namely the mentality, spirit of fear and aims.
"We need to change. These three areas I’ve mentioned are not being given priority presently. We need mentality transformation, the spirit of fear must be replaced by the spirit of preparedness to speak up on principles and thirdly the party must at all times remain focused," he said.
The MCA, he said, must also have a bigger say in the formulation of national policies and the party must be included in the formulation of policies and "not only consulted when a policy reaches the end of its drafting process."
He said the party should also get rid of its culture of fear towards any particular party within Barisan Nasional (BN).
Chua said MCA should also transform itself by focusing more on politics and the impact of government policies on the Chinese community and Malaysians in general rather than being overly involved in social activities.
Chua said it did not matter if the person leading the party was English or Chinese educated as long as the person was educated and able to communicate and articulate well in more languages.
"In the past, the leaders say that we must speak in Mandarin; you cannot speak English, Bahasa Malaysia or you would not be accepted. The party can no longer have this chauvinist attitude. What is happening is that the English speaking, the middle class Chinese have rejected MCA," he said.
Chua said, even though many of the young voters came from Chinese schools, they used Bahasa Malaysia and English in secondary school and tertiary education level and realised that the world was not as chauvinistic as some in the party thought.
However, he said, although this was a fact, MCA could not embrace a multiracial approach overnight as this would take years to achieve.
He said MCA should go for multiracialism only after the party "gets it act together" and make MCA more appetising for the non-Chinese.
Chua also pointed out that MCA leaders, especially those wanting to become elected representatives, must be able to converse fluently in English as well as Bahasa Malaysia, not just in Mandarin.
"I am not saying that speaking in Mandarin is bad. No doubt Mandarin is important as a mother tongue language but what I want is for our candidates to be good in the other two languages too. They must be good in Mandarin, English and also Bahasa Malaysia," he said.
Another advantage of being fluent in the three languages, Chua said, was that the person would start to think "Malaysian first instead of Chinese first".
On calls by certain leaders that he should retire instead of contesting in the 18 Oct party election, Chua said he wanted to retire but MCA’s dismal performance in the March general election had forced his comeback. – Bernama