Tuesday, May 7, 2013

MCA Redux: Malaysian Communities Association

At its present trajectory, it is a given that the Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA) will disappear into the footnotes of Malaysian history. In its current guise, the MCA is out of step with the evolution of Malaysia's democracy and politics.

In the wake of the 2008 General Elections, where the MCA had a dismal showing, we heard the MCA leaders eschew the opportunity to embrace and reach out to a wider Malaysian community. Instead, the MCA leaders said, the MCA cannot become a multi-racial party unless UMNO becomes multi-racial. If you care to do a check-back on my earlier blog posts under the label "MCA" (circa. 2008) you will find that I had urged the MCA to embrace the strong message from the electorate that it needed to reach out to the wider Malaysian polity beyond Chinese clan associations and chambers of commerce. This they did not do. The implications, as we have seen in the 2013 General Elections, is laid bare.

Chua Soi Lek's recent pronouncement in the aftermath of the 2013 General Elections, that Malaysia will see a two-race political system were the Malays are in government and the Chinese in opposition, would be hilarious if not for the danger such a myopic and superficial inference creates. Based on that statement alone, Chua Soi Lek should immediately resign as MCA President instead of "not seeking re-election".

If MCA members genuinely share Chua's views, then, the MCA is surely doomed.

Firstly, such a view reveals that there is zero analytical skills in the MCA. This probably explains why the MCA did not take heed of the message sent by the electorate in 2008.

Secondly, such a view shows that the MCA leadership is trapped within UMNO's race-based narrative scripted single-handedly by Dr Mahathir. It is a trap of MCA's own choosing, by the way. So, don't blame UMNO. UMNO merely led the MCA horse to the trough. It did not force the MCA horse to drink from the racialist pool of putrid water. 

There are two possible broad interpretations of the 2008 and 2013 General Election results for the MCA. They may not be mutually exclusive.

One, the Chinese Malaysians, together with most urban Malaysian voters, want to be represented by the best and brightest Malaysian politicians regardless of their race. Nurul Izzah, Rafizi Ramli, Khairy Jamaludin and Tony Pua are  some  high-profile examples. Saifudin Abdullah should be on this list too.

Two, Chinese Malaysians want to be represented by humble, modest and conscientious MCA leaders who dare to take on the difficult issues that are of major concern to urban voters. These are issues such as good governance, open tenders of government projects, crime-fighting, corruption, the environment, quality of  and access to education and fair play. They do not ever want to be embarrassed by VCDs and DVDs of MCA leaders in compromising positions or, singing karaoke songs.

On both scores, the MCA has failed. 

The slate of candidates offered by the MCA in 2013 were not properly promoted. They were ill-prepared to face the demanding electorate. Worse of all, they had no answers to the hard questions that the electorate was asking. Instead, the electorate was subjected to fear-mongering about the hudud or, bombarded with karaoke DVDs.

The MCA were not just bland, they appeared to be completely out of step with the electorate. That, surely, must be the greatest reason to indict the current MCA leadership. How could the MCA have no political strategy beyond the hudud?

There were so many oversized pink elephants in every room and tent and, dare I say, in every mammoth dinner hosted by MCA that the electorate was bewildered by MCA's sheer indolence and insularity. The colloquial Malaysian expression is, probably, syiok sendiri.

But, all is not lost. 

The MCA still has some life in it and some pretty damn good advantages.

First, it has lost and lots of money.

Second, it has lots and lots of party branches.

Third, it has lots and lots of members.

Fourth, it has lots of history and, therefore, pedigree.

Now, it just has to parlay those strengths with a change in content.

The starting point has to be some serious soul-searching on the matter of changing the "Chinese" in its "C" to "Communities". With this, will come the requisite repositioning its political strategy. 

The next step is to do some mental surgery to re-attach the cojones that it has put in deep freeze because its leaders over the past several decades has chosen patronage politics that involves getting projects for themselves and cronies.

This is the time for re-invention.

Some may say that, if you were to look at the history of the MCA, this party was always elitist and self-serving. It had its roots in Kuomintang sympathies and looked with concern to the issues and challenges that wracked post-imperial China. It, then, morphed into a political body that engaged Malayan concerns about citizenship for the Chinese community and the needs of the Chinese business community.

It may be said also that the needs of the Chinese community at the time were dealt with by clan associations and dialect associations working in a loose collaboration with the MCA. Tun Tan Cheng Lock was famously criticised for being illiterate in the Mandarin.

But, why should history shackle the MCA of the present? Just as modern corporations can transform from a small start in one industry into a corporate giant in another, so, too, can the MCA make that quantum leap from being Chinese-based to becoming Communities-based.

And, I'll let the MCA in one one secret.

You don't need UMNO's permission to do this.


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Anonymous said...

Of all MCA candidates in recent GE, I only see 1 ok grassroot like one MCA Adun candidate standing in Subang Jaya. Why MCA not put up more like him? Stupid MCA strategists.