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MGG: The MCA President's Pyhrric Victory
By M.G.G. Pillai
26/6/2001 6:13 pm Tue
[Mahathir menyeru ahli MCA berbaik kembali walaupun mereka telah
ditipu, dituduh sebagai musuh parti, malah diseru agar dimusnahkan
sama sekali oleh Ling sendiri. Ling telah membelakangkan ahli dan
AJK dengan membeli Nanyang dulu. Inilah Ling yang sama yang memungkiri
janjinya kepada timbalan presiden sendiri.
EGM hanyalah sekadar ingin menutup imej Ling yang semakin memudar kini.
Dia mungkin memenanginya di sini tetapi apakah artinya kerana golongan
tua dan pemuda MCA sebulat suara menolak pembelian itu. Malah majoriti
masyarakat Cina tidak menyokong hasrat itu. Hanya setelah itu baru Ling
menggelabah ingin menjual sebahagian saham kepada pihak lain. Sebelum
itu dia membisu sahaja setelah menelan hampir 75% saham Nanyang itu.
Walau apa pun boikot akhbar akan diteruskan juga walaupun EGM memihak
kepada Ling. Pembelian Nanyang ini menunjukkan Ling telah menjadi
khadam presiden Umno. Patutlah MCA asyik tidak memihak kepada pandangan
masyarakat Cina dalam banyak isu semasa - dari sekolah wawasan, budaya dan
kini Nanyang. Apakah dengan semua rekod jelek ini masyarakat Cina akan
bersatu dan menyokong lagi Ling dan MCA?
25 June 01
Ling's fall accelerated when he bought Nanyang Press without
his central committee on board with him. He bought it, consulted
it only when opposition was raised to the deal. He insisted it
was his right to do as he did, any who questions are enemies of
the community, and ought to be destroyed.
But he is a fading dictator so full of himself that what he
says the community must accept without question. He threatened
to resign, but pulled back when the UMNO president did not want
him to. He broke promises made to his own deputy president.
So, when he bought the newspaper group, those who opposed it also
wanted to throw him out.
So, the extraordinary general meeting yesterday gave
him a wafer thin majority -- he had expected 60 to 70 per cent,
but got only 53 -- and put him on notice. He said a win is a win
even if by ten votes. But he won the battle to lose the
war. For lose the war he would. It is a matter of time.
At UMNO's bidding
Now the Nanyang Press is firmly in UMNO hands. UMNO need
not own it. Why should it when its president can instruct? The
UMNO president gave the most convincing reason why the MCA should
own the Nanyang Press: the two newspapers were most critical of
the National Front during the Lunas by-election.
It is Dr Mahathir who tells Malaysians why it is all right
for MCA to own the two papers. It is he who tells MCA that it is
all right to sell most of the shares and keep a small portion for
itself. Whatever MCA does with its shares, few will believe it
is done for reasons other than self-interest.
So, it does not matter if Ling now claims Huaren Holdings is
not legally the MCA, and therefore mortgaging party assets does
not arise. If this is correct, why then was this EGM held? If
Huaren Holdings is not linked to the party, why all this
fuss? It was an attempt to divert attention from his problems.
But he assumed a power he did not have. The pressure to
force him out as president rises by the day. Instead of watching
his back, he dared them to do their worst. They did. And he is
now a fish out of water.
As the pressure grew, he resorted to legal niceties.
Indeed, at the central committee meeting on Saturday, he brought
in a leading Indian corporate lawyer to advise him on legal
issues; and promptly forbade the raising of legal issues at the
EGM. For an issue as serious as this, the EGM was stage managed.
He lost. For him to damn his critics, he had to have at least a
two-thirds majority. He barely scraped through.
When the battle lines were drawn, Ling was forced into a
corner. The Chinese community objected vehemently. The Youth
wing unanimously rejected the deal, indicating that it aligns
community elders worried about the erosion of culture to squeeze
MCA from both ends. The MCA stands alone.
The boycott would continue, even if the MCA could find
buyers for the majority of the Nanyang shares. The MCA cannot
call for the boycott to be removed. Not so long as it officially
holds shares in it. Ling has not explained why it bought nearly
three quarters of the Nanyang Press share capital if it was to
divest itself to friendly parties later on. But this explanation
only came after the community's opposition became marked.
The MCA can close ranks -- if that is ever possible with
Ling as president -- but the damage is done. In every issue dear
to the Chinese community, the MCA holds a contrary position. It
does not matter what the issue is: visions schools, Nanyang
Press, Chinese culture. So, could the Chinese community rally
behind the MCA under Ling?
Politics versus culture
The Chinese community, like the Malay and increasingly the
Indian, is split seemingly irrevocably between its political and
cultural components. The opposition to the MCA does not come
from the DAP, but from those who once supported it but cannot for
a myriad of reasons.
Political parties exist in Malaysia to support its president
right or wrong. Those against are forced out. And it requires
issues which anger the community to force him out. Membership in
political parties does not give you the right to an opinion, only
to echo the sentiments of the leaders. The leaders must be
obeyed without question. It is not even an option for you to
resign and join another party. This view is not confined to
National Front parties. The DAP, for intance, is annoyed that
ex-DAP members join Keadilan.
Ling Liong Sik grew up in this environment. If he is as
agile as Dr Mahathir is, he can force his way through. But he is
not. He depends upon Dr Mahathir to survive. So, he is thrown
to the winds when Dr Mahathir himself says one day he approved
the sale and an another he did not, he only agreed to the
propriety of the MCA buying a newspaper. Then he spoils it all
by accusing Nanyang Press of writing reports which made the
Chinese voters to desert the National Front.
Huaren is not MCA is not Huaren is ...
Now that Ling has won, it is not only Nanyang Press that is
on tenterhooks. He also is. He cannot now say that since Huaren
Holdings is a different entity from the MCA, the party is not
bothered by how it does. All in all, whatever the justification,
he overshot his limits. If he had considered the matter
seriously, he could well have bought the Nanyang Press and
retained much of the goodwill.
All Ling can now do is lick his wounds. He must have
realised that once the battle began, aligning with the deputy
president Lim Ah Lek's faction were those who were against him
personally. He miscalculated the force of that combination.
When the UMNO president stepped in, Ling's goose was cooked.
The longer he remains in office, the more problematic MCA's
influence in the National Front, let alone the Chinese community
it claims to represent. Ling's pyrrhic victory earned him an
albatross around his neck.