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MGG: Gang Fight In The MCA
By M.G.G. Pillai
19/6/2001 9:58 pm Tue
[Kami siarkan dulu rencana yang amat baik ini. MCA sudah bercelaru
dan Ling sekarang tersepit dicelah pintu lantaran degil yang tidak
The MCA president, Dato' Seri Ling Liong Sik, buys a newspaper
group up for sale, and a gang fight between its grandees breaks
out. The "Gang of 32" takes issue with the "Gang of 8" and it is
over who should be consulted before mortgaging the party to the
banks to buy it. The venue is the media, and Malaysians get a
rare glimpse of how a leading member of the governing coalition
conducts its affairs. It does not; it leaves that to its
elected dictatorial president with powers to supercede its
Any one who flouts or challenges him is put to cold storage.
Not the Mafia way, but close: he can be expelled, as Anwar
Ibrahim was in another political party, without due process. It
works so long as members are suitably frightened of the
presidential carrot-and-stick powers and jooin it not for
principle but for what you can get out of it.
So, Dr Ling had the MCA in his back pocket, and none would
dare take it away from him for fear of being charged with
political s###my and worse. He bought the Nanyang newspaper
group without consulting those he must, ignored the party rules,
finds elegant reasons to justify it. When the Gang of Eight, led
by his deputy president, Dato' Lim Ah Lek, rebelled and got much
support from the ground, he ignored it and when that was no
longer possible, he got his Gang of 32 to confront.
That did not work either. So he ate his own words. He is
forced into a corner. He calls for an extraordinary general
meeting. He now believes in the power of the people, and takes
the high moral ground -- whatever that means in the company he
keeps -- and calls for an EGM to make legal which on the face of
it is illegal.
The Gang of 8 runs around the country, dropping legal and
political bombshells, arguing that the deal would lead the MCA to
perdition. "Remember Lunas" is its battle cry, referring to the
byelection that starkly reminded the National Front and the MCA
that to win elections, the people must vote for them, and they
would not if the leaders take them for expensive rides.
The gang argues the newspaper purchase violates the
constitution. Not so, says the Gang of 32's lawyers: it is
perfectly legal, the Gang of 8 barks up the wrong tree; but we
also learn that all the solemnly appointed bodies like the
Presidential Council and its investment arm trustees are there to
tell the world the MCA operates with due dilligence, but in
reality is to rubber stamp the President's wishes and desires.
The MCA has learnt little from its past. It is no wonder than
that every MCA president since the mid-1970s has gone out under a
cloud. But it is clear he can be removed kicking and screaming.
The EGM, called in a rush, could go either way. The deal
could be approved. But the Gang of 32 feels the heat. They
would not be let off the hook if it is or if it is not. The
President's awesome powers allows him to c##k a snook at the
delegates who elected him: before the EGM is held, he
seeks friendly parties to take the newspaper off his
bloodied hands and off the hook.
We are expected to jump in joy that a group of community
leaders and business men has offered to buy the Nanyang newspaper
group at ten cents more than what the MCA bought it for, all
72.39 per cent of the share capital. They would probably buy it.
But they must then, under the law, buy up the shares they do not
own. Which means they must half as much more for the shares they
do not own.
This gang fight is needless and unnecessary. The long and
short of it is he miscalculated the mood horribly and
disastrously. Dr Ling is an autocrat whose sell by date has
expired. So, it is not about newspaper purchases but about how
to put the bandicoot to pasture. He remains by the Grace of
Mahathir. The Gang of 8 insists he should by the Grace of His
People. The newspaper fiasco became a weapon to push him out.
Like his mentor, he tries to stay in office by ignoring the
wishes of his people but by laws and the party constitution to
threaten, cajole and hector. The Gang of 8 makes it seem that
the people are out to throw him out. Not so. They could not
care a fig who owned the newspapers. Dr Ling and his Gang of 32
knew that. But he forgot that he stayed on too long. Whatever
happens on Sunday, whether the Gang of 32 or the Gang of 8 wins,
the grand loser is its irrelevant autocrat. He seeks a graceful
way out. But that option he does not have.