Sunday, 7 April 2013

Should we pity MCA?

Should we pity MCA?
 | April 8, 2013
A party strongman pleads for voters’ mercy, but some people believe that hypocrisy, fraud and tyranny are unpardonable.

Not for the first time in its recent history, MCA is now reduced to begging for votes.
“I hope the people will give us some votes. Don’t make us eat egg,” party vice-president Donald Lim said in a recent interview with Oriental News Daily, a Chinese language online newspaper.
He claimed that MCA, despite its disastrous showing in the 2008 election, had spent the last five years working hard to regain voter support, implying that it deserved pity, if not appreciation.
Lim’s plea was directed primarily at voters in Selangor, where he is MCA’s state liaison chief, but the humble pie he ate came from the same oven that baked the one Ong Ka Chuan felt compelled to swallow just before the 2008 election, when he was the party’s secretary-general.
Addressing voters in Perak’s Kinta Valley, Ong said: “If you have five people in your household, I plead with you to give one vote to MCA.”
According to English theologian Frederick William Robertson (1816-1853), there are three things that deserve no mercy: hypocrisy, fraud and tyranny.
Many of MCA’s detractors would say that the party has been guilty of all three sins.
In 1986, the party’s think-tank pointed out the need for electoral reforms, arguing that Barisan Nasional’s gerrymandering of electoral constituencies made a mockery of the one-man-one-vote principle.
What has MCA, as Umno’s oldest partner in BN, done to press for reform from this unjust system? Nothing.
The party’s leaders have not lifted a finger in defence of democratic values, but have certainly been raising their hands in support of constitutional amendments to legalise and perpetuate this injustice. They did this in 1973 and again in 1994.
Current party president Dr Chua Soi Lek has even openly rejected accusations that the electoral system was unfair and accused Pakatan Rakyat and polls watchdog Bersih of lying about irregularities in the voter rolls.
Special relationship
Yet Chua, who has sat in many MCA steering committees over the years, is fully aware that the party leadership has been working in cahoots with Umno, which has a special relationship with the Election Commission.
The minutes of MCA meetings on the delineating of constituencies over the years would give ample proof that the party’s state leaders have been working hand in glove with the various chief ministers and menteris besar to preserve BN’s strategic election interests.
Instead of answering the public’s call for fairness and a just electoral system, the MCA has been ditching democratic principles and values for its own interests.
In 2001, when Chinese NGOs and community leaders pleaded with the party leadership not to acquire Nanyang Siang Pau and China Press, did MCA listen? Did it care for the Chinese community’s interest in the strengthening of democratic institutions, including a free press?
Chua, who was then a member of the party’s central committee, fully supported the move to acquire the Chinese newspapers.
Last month, commenting on DAP’s strategy of moving its representatives out of their traditional seats, Chua said they were “running away” because they had failed to serve their constituents.
Has he forgotten about the 1990 general election, when then party president Dr Ling Liong Sik shifted from Bagan to Labis?
At the time of Ling’s switch, Chinese voters made up 63% of the Bagan electorate, but only 46% in Labis. He did win in Labis, but only 15% of the Chinese voted for him.
It is already common knowledge that MCA cannot survive without the support of the Malays, or rather Umno, as figures from past general elections indicate. No wonder many current MCA leaders behave as if they owe more gratitude to Umno leaders than to the voting public.
A political image is like a cement mix, according to American politician Walter Mondale. “When it’s wet, you can move it around and shape it. But at some point in time, it hardens and there’s almost nothing you can do to reshape it.”
This is the predicament facing MCA. The voting support from the Chinese community is at its weakest, and the public is eager to see whether the party will, as Chua has pledged, withdraw from active governance in the event that it performs worse than in 2008.
If MCA has been deaf to the public’s pleading against its support of the hundreds of constitutional amendments that facilitate power abuse, why should the public now listen to its pleas?
As a consolation to Donald Lim, we should remind him that eggs are nutritious, after all. Utter defeat may be just what MCA needs in order to reform itself.
Stanley Koh is a former head of MCA’s research unit. He is now a FMT columnist.