Today let’s discuss the dilemma facing MCA. Does it have any more relevance in Malaysian politics now that the DAP, and to a smaller extent PKR, has won the Chinese Malaysian community’s political support (except for the State of Johore)?
The other (majority) Chinese based party in the BN, Gerakan had been totally wiped out in the north by the DAP as it had once wiped out the MCA from Penang in 1969.
In yesterday’s Malaysiakini article MCA a 'penumpang' in BN author Foong Wai Fong believed that Ahmad Ismail had been right in his controversial ‘squatter’ comment.
She reckoned Ahmad was “… not targeting the Chinese population at large, but the Chinese-based parties within Barisan Nasional as they are ‘squatting’ in BN and rely on Malay votes and Umno's influence to stay in power.”
How true – it has been said that MCA rode on UMNO’s sarong or coattails to Parliament and most DUNs.
Foong detailed why she made that claim: “The majority of the 20 seats belonging to MCA (15), MIC (3) and Gerakan (2) were elected primarily by Malays and were considered Umno territories. The non-Umno 14 ministers, deputy ministers and parliamentary secretaries were given these positions not because they have won the seats on their right, but were simply riding on Barisan's ticket.”
She reckoned that “… Umno has been kind to them; these parties' electoral performance in no way deserves the number of cabinet positions now bestowed on them.”
But I believe that’s precisely the way UMNO wanted it, a weak and compliant MCA (and Gerakan) to comply with its (UMNO’s) dictates while presenting a façade of multi-ethnic politics.
Many were the times UMNO had undermined MCA or made the Chinese based party lose face with the Chinese community. I had blogged on this several times, and here’s one Stung by hornet, mute as only MCA can be over at my other blog BolehTalk to exemplify the perennial dilemma for MCA.
Every time UMNO humiliated MCA, the beneficiary has been the DAP. It’s little wonder that the Chinese community had overwhelmingly supported the DAP in the last election as they had once abandoned the MCA for Lim Chong Eu’s Gerakan in 1969.
One wonders whether UMNO had aped Israel’s covert creation and financial support of Hamas to weaken al Fatah in its undermining of MCA to DAP’s windfall. But just as Hamas proves to be a thorn in Israel side, now the DAP is a thorn in UMNO's side too.
It has come to such a stage that UMNO Selangor feels it necessary to demon-ize Teresa Kok in the worst sinister ways, because to UMNO she has been making frightening inroads into the Malay constituency.
Should the MCA then leave the BN?
Foong in Malaysiakini MCA 2.0 doesn't need bravery, it needs strategy advised against that.
She warned that it’s dangerous to drive a besieged UMNO into the pan-Malay corner, and consequently cursing Malaysia with a political divide along very distinct ethnic lines.
At a time of UMNO’s greatest need, MCA can play a constructive and meaningful role to elevate its status within the BN by helping UMNO a la 1999. But the MCA must convince UMNO that a strong MCA with a meaningful political role (rather than that of a subservient subordinate) can help restore the BN and thus UMNO to its former glory.
Foong wrote: “The demise of MCA will also bring an end to Umno’s or BN's reach to the Chinese community; throwing all the Chinese votes into the welcoming arms of PKR and DAP. MCA has inherent strengths which can be put to effective use; it has a very broad-based membership, over 1.3 million members, a matured organisation and network throughout the country.”
“The Chinese-based party has over RM1 billion in party assets and a long history - many Chinese in Malaysia still would like to see the MCA return to play an effective political role to advance the national agenda.”
Foong advised MCA against the temptation to demonstrate to the Chinese community its bravery by "dare to get angry and dare to speak up” (gan nu gan yan) and in the process rile UMNO.
A tough talking tough acting MCA would be too bitter a pill for UMNO to swallow and thus counterproductive for the MCA.
She said at a time when UMNO is feeling besieged, the MCA behaving excessively assertive would be the wrong medicine to treat the terrible disease the BN is currently suffering from, namely the detested UMNO hegemonic uni-ethnic politics, policies and polemics, and all its attendant ills, corruption and cronyism.
Related: MCA at a crossroad