KUALA LUMPUR, 17 Oct 2008: MCA Youth has called for a review of the certain laws, such as the Internal Security Act (ISA) and the Printing Presses and Publications Act (PPPA) to suit current times.
This was one of the resolutions passed in the movement’s 45th annual convention held today at the MCA headquarters.
The resolution noted that detention without trial was no longer appropriate in a democratic society, while the PPPA had been abused to limit press freedom. The PPPA was also irrelevant in an information technology-based society, delegates believed.
Outgoing MCA Youth chief Datuk Liow Tiong Lai said when the ISA is used against journalists and politicians, it reflected an abuse of the law.
Liow says MCA Youth supports
freedom of speech “The ISA needs to be reviewed; its name should be changed as well so that it is more specific, such as anti-terror act for the detention of terrorists and extremists,” said Liow in his final speech as Youth chief.
Liow will be contesting the vice-presidency at the party elections tomorrow. The new Youth chief is Datuk Dr Wee Ka Siong who won uncontested on nomination day on 14 Oct.
However, in debating Liow’s speech, one of the delegates from Perak, Ting Tai Fook said stern action, including ISA detention, should be taken against against politicians who incite hatred and disrupt racial harmony.
But Liow disagreed with Ting, saying that MCA Youth supported freedom of speech, and respected the right of people to speak out.
“We have others laws such as the Sedition Act to curb those instigate hatred (among races); we don’t need the ISA,” said Liow.
Reform within the Barisan Nasional (BN) was another hot topic raised by delegates during the debate of MCA Youth Chief’s speech this afternoon. However, to the surprise of observers, the resolutions passed today did not include these concerns.
Delegate from Kedah Tan Chee Hiong said during his debate that MCA members felt the party has been sidelined in the mainstream politics.
“The policies passed in the parliament, cabinet or state assembly are made known to MCA members from the newspapers. MCA Youth does not have a chance to express their opinions before a certain policy is drawn up,” complained Tan.
In response to criticism about MCA’s marginalised position within the BN, Liow proposed that a second deputy chairperson‘s post be created in the coalition, to be helmed by the MCA leader. This, he said, would be a reflection of the party’s importance within the coalition. The suggestion was widely welcomed by the delegates in their debates.
Chong Sin Woon from Selangor MCA Youth said the wing was in favour of the proposal.
“If we cannot have a second deputy chief [position], then we should have [the post of] secretary-general of BN,” Chong said.
He said BN supreme council hardly met, and that leaders need to be encouraged to utilise the BN platform in the decision-making process.
Chong expressed his worries about the overwhelming power concentrated in the hands of the prime minister.
“The PM’s power in cabinet is enormous, and with most of the cabinet members being from Umno, it makes it harder for MCA to fight for policies that are fair,” he said.
He also noted that if deputy prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak takes over the premiership from Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahamd Badawi, then another general election may be called within two years.
“MCA does not much time to reform, so we need to kick start reform now,” stressed Chong.
Despite the numerous issues brought up during the debate, serious discussion on major institutional reforms was absent. However, this was addressed in the resolutions passed by the convention.
In one of the resolutions supported the government’s move to establish a Judicial Appointments Commission, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission, and a Special Complaints Commission to handle grouses about law enforcement officers.
On party matters, the Youth proposed amendments to the party constitution and to the Youth by-laws, to allow youth divisions to elect their own central committee member in the parent party. The amendments will also reduce the wing’s membership age limit to 40 years, instead of the current 45.
These two measures will help to strengthen the party and give the Youth a say in decision-making at the top level, delegates believed.