KUALA LUMPUR, 27 Feb 2009: As the MCA turns 60 today, a pertinent question that lingers on the minds of the people and party members is whether it has served its purpose of being the political vehicle for the Chinese populace in Malaysia.
If the answer is in the affirmative, then the next question that pops up is: Where is this party with more than a million members heading after 60 years?
The MCA, the largest Chinese-based political party in Malaysia, was formed on 27 Feb 1949 and today is its 60th birthday.
Plans are under way for a birthday bash at the party headquarters this Sunday, when the party’s top enchelon are also expected to provide direction on where the party is heading.
The 2,500 grassroots leaders gathered at Dewan San Choon at the MCA headquarters will be presented with details on the party’s future direction.
With the theme, “60 Years of Building Dreams, A Lifelong Commitment to Service”, the party has already set out its agenda to transform itself to be a party of the people’s choice, especially after suffering its worst electoral defeat since the nation’s independence in the March 2008 general election.
It was with this reform agenda that Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat won the presidency at the party polls in October 2008.
MCA must offer “something more concrete”
“The biggest challenge now is how to restore the confidence of the Chinese community towards the MCA. After last year’s general election, the Chinese are still generally unhappy with the Barisan Nasional (BN) government. This is the most challenging thing,” former MCA secretary-general Tan Sri Dr Ting Chew Peh told Bernama.
He said the MCA must offer “something more concrete” and not spend too much time on petty or personal issues in charting its next political direction.
“They have been talking about change, but nothing much has changed. The people have yet to see anything concrete. It is high time that the current leadership shows a clear direction for MCA members.
“What is important is action, not rhetoric. Generally, people want to see change. That is obvious,” said Ting.
Head of the party’s Elders Council Datuk Yap Pian Hon feels that the MCA should explore the option of adopting the ideology that it is for all Malaysians, regardless of race or religion.
He said the party could use its 60 years’ experience of political struggle in adopting this approach.
“In the coming years, it is crucial for our party members to understand that there will be a two-party system in the country. Whether it happens or not, we have to face it.
“Therefore, we are really at the crossroads now. You change or be changed, that’s about it,” he said, adding that the party must also have the determination to change.
Former MCA deputy president Tan Sri Lim Ah Lek argued that the party needed to undertake drastic and bold reforms, not only on the political front but also on the conduct and behaviour of its members.
He said MCA politicians should be perceived as clean, not only from corruption and any other wrong doings, but also on matters relating to morality.
“We need to take action. We cannot sweep things under the carpet anymore. We need to show members, especially the grassroots, that nobody is above the law.
“We need to change, go for reform and be bold about it. We need to deliver, no two ways about it,” said the former human resources minister.
Details on reforms
Ong, in his manifesto at the party polls last year, stressed on the need for the party to undergo a rebranding and reinvention exercise, starting with reforms based on the people’s aspiration.
This included the direct election of the MCA president, election of the state liaison committee, the selection system for office bearers and widening the MCA community network through inter-ethnic interaction.
Now, Ong is expected to use the 60th anniversary bash to provide details of these reforms.
Ong, in an interview published in the MCA’s website, said that reforms would be based on the wish list provided by the people and party members.
“We have to identify any impending issues or problems affecting the Chinese community now and look seriously into how to resolve them. If we fail to resolve the issues now, we cannot move ahead in fighting for the interests of the people,” he was quoted as saying.
However, this is easier said than done. In reality, it would not be that easy to initiate changes which could make a real impact on the masses.
And to make a real impact on the Chinese Malaysians, the MCA needs to speak with one voice, move in one direction and, more importantly, have the interests of the community at heart at all times. — Bernama