KUALA LUMPUR, 17 OCT 2008: MCA is practical, not weak, when it handles sensitive issues through closed door negotiations within the Barisan Nasional (BN), MCA secretary-general Datuk Seri Ong Ka Chuan said today.
Acknowledging that MCA has been criticised for not being vocal enough on Chinese issues, he said closed door discussions were meant to ensure that no BN component party would be sacrificed.
“Negotiations are not an unhealthy thing. The Chinese community has to live together with other communities and many problems can be solved through negotiations, a give-and-take attitude, and understanding.
“The negotiation approach is to ensure that no one party is sacrificed. It is not a zero sum game,” Ong said in his speech when opening the 33rd Wanita MCA general assembly.
He cited MCA’s founder and first president Tun Tan Cheng Lock, whose objective for the party was to be a “one community party with a multiracial approach heading towards a fair society”.
Ong said Tan’s philosophy was based on the “Malaysian spirit” of letting all BN component parties have equal say.
“All Barisan component parties must have equal say. We cannot accept that the decision made by one party must be taken as the BN’s decision.
“But we should not be openly going against each other as it will not benefit anybody,” Ong said.
Negotiations the best way
At a press conference later, Ong said negotiations were the best approach to take when working in a coalition with other races.
“We cannot pretend we know the Malays better than a Malay-based party, nor can we pretend to know Indians better than an Indian-based party.
“Many people say the March general election showed that Malaysians no longer want race-based parties, but whether this is real or just emotion, we have to see. We have to be prudent. At the moment, the BN mechanism is the most viable,” Ong said.
Ong said in its management meetings, the BN was serious about rebranding the coalition to reflect people’s concerns.
“The new MCA leadership to be elected tomorrow will also assess changes in the political situation,” Ong, who is contesting the party deputy president’s post, added.
He also said the BN should hold more activities and dialogue at state and division levels, rather than leave interaction between the component parties to the top leaders.