- Confucius, Book of Ritual 27
In its news item, MCA on makeover mission before election, malaysiakini discussed the internal problem of the Barisan Nasional's Chinese-based party playing ‘musical chair’.
When Ong Ka Ting took over as president 5 years ago, he set a two-term policy as public office holders for MCA representatives to prevent monopolisation of the ministerial jobs by only a few incumbents. This seems encouraging though kaytee believes merely replacing old for new may in some ways be counterproductive to a political party building up a pool of ministerial or parliamentary experience.
The better aim should be to remove deadwood rather than replant a growing tree, unless of course the entire tree is already deadwood ;-)
Ong’s overt aim has been publicised as bringing in new blood to rejuvenate the party. The other possible and related aim could be to motivate new talents into the party, by holding out the prospects of ministerial positions for new and successful candidates. Afterall which bright spark wants to join a party to be just political secretary or economic advisor to a deadwood?
In the malaysiakini article about the MCA in serious overhaul mode, as demonstrated by the recent recruitment of new political (hi-profile) faces plus Ong’s latest speech touching on ‘retiring with honour’, the veterans have obviously been the targets of Ong’s renewal policy.
While his hint of ‘retiring with honour’ may have been meant as a polite warning to veterans to voluntarily retire or be axed as election candidates, the veterans may not be so accommodating as olde mangy lions still have some teeth left – ‘tis the old story of numero uno. People are reluctant to surrender their hold on power, and the accompanying benefits.
But I believe the more important issue for the MCA, a party both despised and (yet) needed by the Chinese Malaysian community, is not so much changing faces, but changing values.
The MCA leadership should set the correct example (perhaps even indirectly to their more aggressive and avaricious UMNO partners), for a return to Confucian values of propriety, integrity, honour and true public service – ideal goalposts, but nonetheless necessary in a Malaysia currently suffering from the serious affliction of rampant and uncontrollable corruption.
Once we heard of 'leadership by example' – which reminds me of a story told by my uncle, who was in the armed forces. According to unc's tale, one senior officer believed that ‘leadership by example’ consisted wholly of wearing nicely ironed uniform, short haircut and well polished shoes, but who indulged in disgraceful behaviour unbecoming of an officer, committing acts that by universal military standards should have seen him court martialled and cashiered, meaning dishonourably discharged.
Indeed the ideals of 'leadership by example' are not merely cosmetic but of proper behaviour and conduct which meet expectations of Confucian dimension.
Mind you, Confucian values do not prevent a man from accumulating honest wealth – oh, did you catch the key word in that statement?
When a leader lives beyond known means and in highly ostentatious style, it’s provoking to the people at the lower rungs. If a senior elected representative lives a life style like a pre Independence Indian maharajah, when everyone knows he was just a former junior public servant, how would that then (negatively) 'motivate' the ordinary policeman, immigration, custom or public service officers?
Hey, what’s good for the kepala (head) surely must be also good for the ekor (tail)!
And worse, how can the kepala now moralise to the ekor not to be corrupt?
The MCA may not be able to convince or influence its other BN partners, but if it wants to regain the respect of the Chinese Malaysian community, the party has to adopt those ancient Confucian values - rather than just fiddle around with faces.
Hmmm, am I p*ssing in the wind?