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Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Will the dragon rise from the ashes?

Sulaiman Kamal | 2:01 PM | | | | Best Blogger Tips

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MCA is at crossroads now. Its president has the unenviable task of resurrecting his career and making MCA a viable force again.
There is nothing certain in the Malaysian political landscape anymore. And that applies to the Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA) as well. Once the bastion of the Chinese voters and riding high, it is now back on terra firma.
Come the next general election, what is in store for Dr Chua Soi Lek and his party, nobody can tell.
Chua, a practising psychiatrist, now turned politician and health minister from 2004 to 2008, has always chartered his own future despite all the odds stacked against him.

Will he be able to turn MCA around, despite its negative image and playing second fiddle to big brother Umno?
Sources close to Chua say their president is a “silent” fighter.
His two-year tenure as the president has not seen many community projects compared to his predecessors like Dr Ling Liong Sik and Ong Ka Ting. But one thing going for Chua is that the party is more vocal now.
The party knows it is standing on its last leg and has been preparing for the general election as early as a year ago. It has been conducting nationwide cadre-training classes and drumming support for the party. This includes brain-storming sessions and overseas study tours to Taiwan and China.
Party sources confirmed recently that formal notices have been sent out to its divisions and branches to set up general election committees.
Playing the race card
Even divisions and states had been instructed to submit in the names of three candidates each for all the MCA parliamentary and state seats before Oct 6.
According to a party veteran, the MCA is facing a crisis of public confidence given the edgy mood of the electorate. There is genuine fear within the leadership that it would suffer the loss of more seats (it now has 15 parliamentary and 32 state seats).
Chua’s involvement in a sex scandal in early 2008 may yet drag the party down.
Many in the party see his rise to become the president as unforgivable. They believe that Chua has destroyed the moral and leadership legacy of the founding fathers Tan Cheng Lock and his son, Siew Sin .
“There is no question as to our allegiance to the BN’s struggles… MCA will continue to remain in the BN coalition,” the MCA’s publicity machinery made this very clear in its recent newsletter.
There may be some optimism among the rank and file but most feel there are more minuses than pluses.
MCA is playing the race card by pitting the Chinese against the DAP at the expense of the Malays. The party is not helped either by its leaders taking pot shots at Pakatan Rakyat coalition state governments of Selangor and Penang to score political mileage.
But the party strategists have somewhat forgotten the history of power abuse, political plunders, mismanagement and corruption of BN leadership, of which MCA is a partner.
Publicity blitz
By and large, the Malaysian public has not forgotten. There are only two possible outcomes for MCA (at the next national polls). The party will either be wiped out or just survive.
The party’s recent publicity blitz with the message, “MCA to decline all government posts” is hardly convincing despite the party describing it as bold and courageous.
The most common complaint against the party is that MCA is “spineless” and has failed to provide “check and balance” on the abuse of government powers .
The party’s publication, Guardian (May 2011), said: “The stand taken by MCA is in the spirit of democracy to respect the decision of voters.”
The party was referring to its latest stand that it will decline all government posts in the event that its electoral performance at the 13th general election turns out to be worse than 2008.
If this is MCA’s stand, then how is it that Chua had recommended “senatorship” to his loyal supporters so that they can be nominated as ministers in the BN government line-up?
Examples included Donald Lim Siang Chai who was made deputy finance minister despite his electoral defeat in the 2008 general election and Heng Seai Kie who became woman, family and community development deputy minister. Heng did not even contest as a candidate.
Hence, the party’s decision to decline all government posts pending the electoral results in the next national polls is tantamount to reshaping one’s foot in order to fit into a new shoe.
To some political pundits it was interpreted as a publicity stunt and a move to get more votes.
And Chua is competent in psychology. The Malaysian public including the opposition should not underestimate Chua’s ability to re-create his political career and that of his party.

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