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MGG: The MCA Fracas: For Whom The Bell Tolls
By M.G.G. Pillai
5/8/2001 7:09 pm Sun
[Kekecohan yang berlaku pada mesyuarat pemuda MCA itu adalah kesan daripada
kemarahan yang terperam kerana asyik dicengkam. Ahli MCA dan rakyat negara ini
semakin tidak diberi laluan untuk menyampaikan suara mereka. Dulu penerbitan
dikawal kini ceramah pula sudah tidak dibenarkan. Tidak hairanlah bantahan itu
meledak dengan kekecohan kerana sudah tiada jalan lain lagi untuk menyedarkan
pihak kepimpinan secara aman.
Setiap manusia mempunyai had untuk menyimpan rasa tidak puas hati dan kemarahan.
Sepatutnya kerajaan membiarkan rakyat menyuarakan pandangan secara terbuka
dengan aman kerana banyak negara maju melakukan sedemikian tanpa tergugatpun
keselamatan awam. Bayangkan sampai sekarang tiada SEORANG PUN pun reformis
ataupun hadirin di ceramah ditangkap dan didapati bersalah kerana melakukan
kerosakkan. Mengapa kerajaan perlu merasa takut jika ia berada dipihak yang
Apabila semua ruang dinafikan sudah tentu rakyat akan bangkit dengan jalan
lain kerana sudah tidak mampu menahan. Jika itu berlaku rakyat tidak akan
menghiraukan lagi risiko ataupun ancaman dan kerajaan akan terpadam. Bukankah
sejarah banyak merakamkan sedemikian?
The MCA President, Dato' Seri Ling Liong Sik, is upset. He faces incipient
revolt within his ranks. He is unconcerned, so he make it seem, is only sad
about it. The MCA Youth general meeting set the tone for what is to come.
In a raucous melee yesterday (02 August 01), delegates threw chairs and
hurled karate chops and blows at each other, with the proceedings enlivened
with a false alarm of a bomb threat. There is nothing in this for Dr Ling to
write home about: it is sign of an open revolt which in MCA's case is linked
to the presidential decision to buy the Nanyang Press Group without the usual
checks and balances in place. The Chinese community is incensed that the
newspaper group is now under the direct control of the MCA, as the
English-language The Star already is. The MCA could not have gone into it at
a worse time. Dr Ling, like the president of UMNO, has outlived his use in
MCA, but believes he is still needed.
The MCA Youth turned riotous because it disagreed with the Nanyang Press
purchase for reasons that the MCA secretary-general, Dato' Ting Chew Peh, now
accept: that the Chinese community is hostile to it and it would take awhile
before it comes to terms with it -- if at all. MCA presidents, since the May
1969 riots, have not gone quietly. Tan Sri Lee San Choon sided with the then
president, Tun Tan Siew Sin, to beat off a challenge from the Chinese Unity
Movement upstarts in the early 1970s, then turned against him. He in turn,
in the early 1980s, was unseated by Dato' Neo Yee Pan, who in turn was by Mr
Tan Koon Swan. Dr Ling succeeded Mr Tan. But every changeover of leaders
was fraught with angst and confusion. Now is no exception. Dr Ling insists
he is arbiter of the MCA, can do as he likes whether the party councils are
with him or not.
He and his deputy president, Dato' Lim Ah Lek, represent two factions;
every statement from Dr Lim is challenged, not for the idea expressed but for
misrepresentation. Dr Ling, for instance, said the central working committee
had unanimously decided to form a constitutional review committee: Dato' Lim
insisted it was not. Both, of course, were at the meeting. Dr Ling fouled
his chances when he refused to resign as he promised his deputy president and
the central working committee, stayed on at the UMNO president, Dato' Seri
Mahathir Mohamed's insistence. It is widely believed, though not necessarily
true, Dr Ling bought Nanyang Press Group to deny a former Anwar backer, Tan
Sri Quek Leng Chan, from owning a newspaper. It backfired. And puts MCA at
Which is why Dr Ting is so conciliatory to Chinese issues. He accepts
the party mishandled the Vision School issue, the Nanyang Press Group issue,
that the Chinese are unhappy with the MCA. The MCA general assembly, which
begins today (03 August 01), will have as a backdrop not the Chinese
community's anger over MCA's alleged mishandling of Chinese issues, but if
the MCA could survive long if Dr Ling insists to be its rotting fish head.
There is no party elections this year. So, he would not be challenged. But
a denouement is at hand. He must decide soon if his remaining as MCA
president is more important than the MCA remaining a viable political party
in the future. Curiously, UMNO, Gerakan Rakyat Malaysia, MCA leaders are in
the same predicament. The National Front have discouraged political activity
from within, now find the Malaysian cannot relate to him. For the MCA, in
the past, the infighting was related to how the president ran the party; now
it is how the MCA has not addressed the community's problems.
This year's MCA general meeting is therefore more fractious and
contentious. The youth and women's wing showed some of the inbuilt anger at
how they address issues. The MCA meeting cannot be much different. However
well organised it might be, the incipient anger of the Chinese community is
too strong for Dr Ling to ignore. It would make no sense if the MCA
delegates do not stand up and voice their views. When a political party
shuts up dissent from within, it must break out into chaotic conditions as we
saw yesterday. What frightens, and saddens, is for Malaysian political
leaders, in government and opposition, to insist that once elected, they
should not be challenged.
Every National Front party, and many opposition parties, are in this
dilemma. It shows that neither the government or the opposition parties
allow anything like a free flow of political action from amongst its members.
We had the pressure on Mr Lim Kit Siang to resign from the DAP. Now it is
Dr Ling's turn. The impact is to restrict political activity and lobotomise
political party members. Which is why, apart from PAS and PRM, no political
party is believed for what it stands for. Every leader protects its turf,
the more autocratically the more they are in odium with its members. A
political culture on these terms gives rise to the belief that only violent
action, metaphorically and in fact, can bring about changes. The reformasi
action is an example of that. The MCA Youth meeting yesterday another.