Thomas Lee takes issue with MCA leader Chua Soi Lek’s view that the MCA’s massive electoral losses in 2008 were an aberration, and that the Chinese community still wished to be represented in the Barisan Nasional administration of the federal government. Thomas is widely known for his admiration of DAP warhorse Lim Kit Siang and other DAP leaders. He argues that Chua Soi Lek is delusional in believing that the MCA could recoup its losses and regain support from the Malaysian Chinese electorate.
He contributed this commentary.
By Thomas Lee Seng Hock
MCA president Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek has appealed to the Chinese to review their perception of the party and reevaluate its past and present contributions, especially on matters affecting the community.
In an apparent desperate endeavour to try to redeem whatever remains of the party’s credibility, integrity and authenticity among the Chinese, Chua claims indirectly that the community has never rejected the party, but just went uncontrollably overboard in voting for a strong opposition in the last general election.
In an interview with Malaysiakini on Wednesday 8 June 2011, Chua claims that the Chinese want some representatives in the government to articulate their frustrations, and also want a strong opposition to keep a check on the government, but “sometimes, when they do this balancing act, they go haywire.”
Chua claims that, deep down, the Chinese still want to be represented in the Barisan Nasional government, but since the community could not coordinate among themselves, they had ended up with more elected representatives in the opposition.
“In their heart, they said: ‘Oh, we want to have a stronger opposition’. But in the end, everybody voted for the opposition, resulting in nobody in the government,” he said.
In other words, Chua thinks that the results of the last general election, when the MCA was totally wiped out in Penang and sent packing in Selangor, Perak and elsewhere, are merely a freak electoral caprice and do not reflect the actual sentiment of the Chinese community.
During the last general election in March 2008, the MCA won only 15 of the 40 parliamentary seats it contested and succeeded in merely 31 of the 90 state seats, losing them mainly to the DAP. The MCA was totally wiped out in Penang, losing every seat it contested at both federal and state level.
Chua, apparently still in a reverie, thinks that the MCA still has a soft spot in the heart of the community, and that the party would bounce back into favour with the Chinese community at the next general election.
He cited various so-called achievements of the party, claiming credit for getting more federal funding for Chinese primary schools, getting better recognition for the United Examination Certificate of the Chinese independent schools, and helping to develop mutual recognition of university degrees between Malaysia and China.
Chua may think that the Chinese are fools for buying his so-called achievements. Any person with a bit of common sense knows that had not the alternative coalition of the DAP, PAS and PKR caused a massive electoral cataclysm at the last general election, the Umno-controlled Barisan Nasional government would not have granted such concessions to allow the MCA a safe-face reprieve to claim credit for them.
Anyway, the matters Chua claims that the MCA managed to “fight” for the Chinese are matters of essential rights which the community must be accorded without any need to ask or bargain for. To say to say that the community needs the MCA to negotiate for them is to admit the lack of power of the party within the ruling Barisan Nasional administration and its failure in being the true community representative in the government. Its position and relevance in the government are certainly suspect.
And in order to project the MCA in good light, Chua resorted to a smear campaign against the state administrations controlled by the alternative coalition Pakatan Rakyat, especially Penang and Selangor.
Chua cashed in on the current land disputes in Selangor involving the Sungai Buloh nursery and the Kampung Kerandang land, and alleged that the Pakatan Rakyat state government made a mess of the matters. He doesn’t seem to really understand the logistic and long-term practical implications involved, but just wants to score political points by exploiting the disputes.
Chua also claimed that the Pakatan Rakyat Selangor state government allowed “thousands” of reflexology and entertainment outlets to flourish in Klang, implying that the alternative coalition is causing moral decline in the royal town.
He also alleges that the Pakatan Rakyat state administrations in Kedah and Penang have allowed the water tariff to increase by 20%.
Chua has given a misrepresentation on the Penang water tariff, claiming that the tariff had increased by 20%.
The fact is that the Guan Eng administration has not increased the heavily-subsidized rates for domestic consumers, but only imposed a water conservation charge to reduce water wastage.
Actually, only water tariffs for business have been increased to meet the production cost. Penang, meanwhile, still has the lowest water tariffs in the country for both domestic and business users.
To make a sweeping claim that the Guan Eng administration had increased the water tariff by 20% is to tell a very despicable lie, unbecoming of a national political leader.
The most outrageous claim, however, is Chua’s statement that Penang under Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng of the DAP is now running on a deficit budget, which the MCA boss says would get worse next year.
Chua is either shockingly nescient and ignoramus, or a deliberate liar. The facts and figures are out in the open for all and sundry to see.
Since the Pakatan Rakyat took control of the Penang state government from the Barisan Nasional after the March 2008 general election, the state has recorded the biggest surpluses in the nation’s history with RM88 million in 2008, RM77 million in 2009 and RM33 million in 2010, as certified by the Auditor-General in his report.
The solid and sound financial management by the Guan Eng administration also resulted in the heavily deficit-ridden Seberang Perai Municipal Council (MPSP) being saved from bankruptcy within just a year of financial rejuvenation.
The Guan Eng administration, guided by the principles of competency, accountability and transparency (CAT), managed to lead the MPSP to post RM41 million in budget surpluses since 2008 compared to the big deficits it recorded from 2000 to 2007 under the Barisan Nasional administration, which amounted to a whopping RM230 million.
It should also be noted that the Guan Eng administration is the only government in Malaysia, whether state or federal, to be highly commended by Transparency International for its anti-corruption efforts.e
Chua Soi Lek’s current attempt to woo the Chinese to support the MCA by attacking the Pakatan Rakyat, especially the DAP, is obviously and action in futility. The community in general has lost complete faith in the MCA, especially when its present set of leaders are found wanting.
In a commentary on the MCA I wrote in March 2011 when I was still chief editor of mysinchew.com, I made several observations of the party which I believe are still relevant. I am repeating them here.
Although Chua and the MCA are attempting to regain the middle ground lost en masse by the party in 2008, the party faces two big obstacles – one internal, and the other external.
The internal obstacle is surely its current leadership, which is composed of out-dated and spent political players, some with very weird and bizarre ideas like the one who proposed setting up a “Chinese Perkasa” to challenge the Malay rights group Perkasa, and some whose public comments of vital issues show their height of folly.
I think almost none of the current leaders will be able to do well if they are to contest in the next general election. The ground zero perception of them is generally negative. According to a Merdeka Center survey in 2010, only 9% of the Chinese voters have any respect for Chua, which is actually much better than that of Gerakan president Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon who received only 1%. The survey only listed these two Chinese leaders, but I believe it is a general reflection of the Chinese support for the MCA and Gerakan leaders.
The external obstacle in their way is the rejuvenated, regenerated, and reformed DAP.
Since the March 2008 general election, there has been a taxonomic group of very educated, progressive, professional and youthful politicians in the DAP, led by the relatively young but veteran political maverick Lim Guan Eng. The highly intellectual and articulate young elected representatives of the DAP are making waves in Parliament and at the various state assemblies, as well as in the public arena, where the battle for the hearts and minds of the people is taking place.
The DAP can boast of an army of very bright, well-educated, well-trained, and morally upright young politicians to spearhead the thrust for the transformation of the nation into a new and better Malaysia. Among the young leaders are the likes of Teresa Kok, Chow Koon Yeow, Anthony Loke, Fong Po Kuan, Lim Lip Eng, Teo Nie Ching, Tony Pua, Jenice Lee, Gobind Singh, Boo Cheng Hua, Hannah Yeoh, Violent Yong, Liew Chin Tong, Jeff Ooi, Thomas Su, and many more.
Can the MCA beat off such an impressive formidable challenge from its diehard political opponent DAP?
To regain the trust and confidence of the Chinese community and to remain relevant, the MCA must undergo a total revamp of its leadership, getting rid of those who had overstayed their usefulness, and those who intelligence are found wanting. The practice of cronyism and nepotism must be eliminated.
Otherwise, what Chua claims about regaining the confidence and support of the Chinese community is merely an illusion – an impossible dream.
I rest my case.
Thomas Lee, now a media consultant, has spent 35 years in newspapers and was last editor of mysinchew.com