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Saturday, February 26, 2011

Soon 62, MCA still reeling from 2008

Dr Chua took the MCA presidency last year in a successful comeback following his 2007 sex scandal. — file pic
KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 26 — The Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA), the second biggest component party of the Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition, marks its 62nd anniversary tomorrow as it plods along the road to revival following a dismal electoral performance in the general election of 2008.

Some party leaders believe that with Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek as the president since March last year, the party is on track to regain the support of the Chinese community.

They are encouraged by the result of the recent state by-election in Tenang, Johor, and hope that the support will be much bigger in the state by-elections in Kerdau, Pahang, and Merlimau, Malacca, come March 6.

MCA deputy president Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai said that although the BN secured only 37 votes from the estimated 400 Chinese voters in Kerdau in 2008, the scenario is different now and the party will be able to woo more voters.

Liow believed MCA could once more regain Chinese support.
MCA veteran leader Datuk Yap Pian Hon points out that after 62 years, the MCA remains a relevant political organisation and that, from a historical perspective, the Chinese have been supporting the BN when their support was most needed.

“Why are the Chinese blamed for not supporting the BN? They forget that the Chinese have been supporting the BN all this while,” he says.

Yap says the Chinese support for the MCA was there during the Malaysia-Indonesia Confrontation (1960s), Singapore’s split from Malaysia (1965), the sacking of Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim as the deputy prime minister (1998) and the general election in 1999.

He says the Chinese votes saved the BN in the 1999 general election and ensured a two-third parliamentary majority for the coalition in 2004.

Yap, who was recently appointed Selangor BN information chief, believes the 2008 general election is only a temporary setback for the party.

The MCA had won then only 15 parliamentary and 32 state seats, less than half of seats it had secured in 2004.

The next general election is seen as crucial for MCA, and a lot of hard work has to be done.

“The biggest challenge for the party is unity and focusing on the next general election. They have to look into the needs of the people, instead of engaging in internal bickering and pursuing personal ambitions, to capture the seats lost,” says Puchong MCA vice-chairman Datuk Thean Book.

MCA Central Committee member Loh Seng Kok says the biggest challenge now is to prepare the grassroots to revive the winning spirit.

“The March 13 EGM will set the right tone and right mood for that. They need to adjust their mindsets and not feel complacent, not to be swayed by other developments. There is a Chinese saying which I will literally translate as ‘if you don’t go, you will be pushed or overtaken by others,” he says.

The EGM is being held to amend the party constitution to enable the postponement of the party elections until after the next general election.

MCA Youth Chief Datuk Wee Ka Siong says party members can show “the strength of the party” during this critical time by putting aside their differences, and begin by supporting the wishes of more than 93 per cent of the delegates in postponing the party elections.

“This can help to speed up the revival process, since talk is that the next general election will be held soon. We have to get ready very soon,” he says.

Prof James Chin, a political analyst at the Monash University, does not think that the MCA can recover fully before the next general election.

He says Dr Chua is doing a good job as president but “it is still very difficult for MCA”. — Bernama

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