THE Barisan Nasional (BN) backbenchers’ trip to Taiwan, the alleged racist remarks of Umno Bukit Bendera division chief Datuk Ahmad Ismail, and the continued relevance of MCA and Gerakan to the community were the focus of the Chinese media for the week between 8 and 11 September 2008.
Nanyang.com’s Xia Guo Wen, in an article titled Hijack and Field Study on 9 Sept 2008, wrote on how Malaysia presently has two groups of citizens held up overseas and uncertain about their futures.
The first is the crew of the two MISC tankers, T Bunga Melati 2 and T Bunga Melati 5, who are being held captive by Somali pirates who hijacked the ships off the coast of Yemen. Negotiations to secure their release are ongoing, but Xia pointed out that the Malaysian government seems inexperienced and does not appear to have a solution to the crisis.
The other group comprises the 49 BN MPs in Taiwan on an agricultural study tour, which conveniently takes them away until after the 16 Sept deadline that Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) de facto leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim has picked for the crossover of MPs to form a new government.
Xia claimed that this study group, which comprises parliamentarians from East and West Malaysia, does not appear to have prepared for the trip and are not experts in the agricultural sector. Xia posits that the most suitable group for the tour would have been staff from the Malaysian Agricultural Research and Development Institute (Mardi).
Sin Chew Daily’s Xian Yun, in an article titled What to Study in Taiwan? on 10 Sept said Taiwan’s agricultural reform should be a model for Malaysia, but the exchange of experience should be conducted between private corporations and research institutes, not undertaken by MPs on a joy trip.
The writer wondered how many of the MPs know about agriculture, and whether they are capable of bringing home the necessary knowledge for the reform of the national agriculture policy.
Most interestingly, Xian queried why this study group chose to visit Taiwan at a time when all eyes are on the possible change of government here.
Taiwan, Xian pointed out, is a country where the people have changed the ruling party and government twice already. So is the tour a pretext to prevent a change of government in Malaysia, or rather for the MPs to learn how to change governments?
Malay anxiety takes shape
Ding Lee Leong, in his article titled Ahmad Challenges Everyone’s Wisdom in Oriental Daily on 10 Sept, said Ahmad’s “squatters” remarks reflect the complicated factional politics within Umno, and also show that some of the anxiety of the Malays over the March 2008 election results is bubbling over.
However, these possible reasons should not be used as a rational or legal basis for the remarks, Ding said.
He added that upon analysis, the conclusion could be made that the arrogance of the division chief and his supporters is an attempt to hide their feelings about the loss of power on the part of Umno chieftains, and for being marginalised by the middle-class Malays.
“Ahmad is a small figure in the Malay community; [the media] are the ones who have been promoting him, making him out to be a defender of Malay rights.
“In the end, it appears like this one man, Ahmad Ismail, was challenging the wisdom, rationale and democratic achievements of over 20 million people,” Ding wrote.
Neither the Sedition Act nor the Internal Security Act was the solution to the situation, and we should not dismiss the possibility of extreme measures being taken to tackle extremism, he added.
Sin Chew Daily’s leader on 9 Sept, titled MCA and Gerakan are Lingering at the Junction, said the main reason for the BN being able to hold on to its power for such a long time was the non-Malay community’s strong tolerance to extremist racial statements.
However, after the 8 March election, the rakyat sent a message for reform, and if MCA and Gerakan could not get the message and change, then they would pay for it severely in the next general election.
It queried whether MCA and Gerakan, as the main Chinese-based political parties here, can make any difference when faced with some of the racist statements and policies from Umno.
Troubled by unfair government policies, MCA and Gerakan were abandoned by their respective communities and faced a historic loss of support during the March general election. Voices began to emerge from both parties, asking whether it was time to withdraw from the BN.
However, these voices have no conclusive answer yet due to the factional fights within the parties, the article said, urging MCA and Gerakan to study their role in this historic moment of a political battle taking shape, created by Anwar and his 16 Sept takeover plan.
MCA and Gerakan should not drag their feet anymore about their political future as the Chinese community’s tolerance has reached the limit. The latest political development may be a chance for the two parties to reinvent themselves in order to regain the confidence of the Chinese community, the article concluded.