MCA's leaders must be more outspoken against questionable policies set by the Government. | Source: MCA official website

MCA Jasin’s Legal Bureau Chairman, Eric Choo shares with us his thoughts on the outcome of GE13.

The outcome of the 13th General Elections serves as a painful wakeup call for MCA. Despite our poor performance in the 12th General Elections, we are not performing any better than how we did in 2008. This unprecedented defeat is a message from the voters to us that, being one of the biggest political parties in the country, MCA must reform and make drastic changes before the next General Election or risks being completely rejected by the people.

For years, this model of race-based political parties forming the coalition of Barisan Nasional has worked, helping us win 12 general elections thus far. However, in recent years, it appears that this model is getting more and more irrelevant in this maturing democracy especially since the 12th General Election in 2008. The people are starting to voice out their discontent and unhappiness with such a model that places unnecessary emphasis on racial politics thus abjuring the social cohesion we have achieved since independence.

And the voice is getting louder that we must move forward as one without the distinction of race and ethnicity. As such, being one of the main political parties in this country, MCA must lead the way and transform itself by rejecting a race-based approach to governance, and adopt an inclusive and non-racial approach to regain its relevance.

Apart from moving away from the race based political model, as part of the ruling coalition, MCA must also be able to formulate policies that are people-centric and truly benefit the people. It is insufficient for us to rely solely on the policies planned and proposed by those who are in the Government. We must be able to formulate and propose additional policies, and even advocate those that are contrary to the policies that are planned and proposed by the Government. On top of that, we must also critically evaluate the policies proposed by the Government, improvise them, and, if need be, criticise them. In these aspects, unfortunately, we have not performed and this is evidenced by the results of GE 13. The reason behind this is that we lack an effective think tank  that critically examines issues and policies and advises the party accordingly. This disconnect has resulted in the losses MCA suffered and a party cannot champion issues it is ill-educated on. Hence, the leaders of MCA must seek to revive and strengthen the think tank of the party, and use it for the right reasons  and not to further the political interests of those in power.

MCA's leaders must be more outspoken against questionable policies set by the Government. | Source: MCA official website

Parallel to the need to be able to study and formulate people-centric policies, it is sad to learn that a sizeable number of the people believe that MCA has failed to speak out, or failed to be seen to have spoken out against the injustices and wrongs that have been committed by those in positions of power. Our representatives in Parliament and State Assemblies have also been seen to have failed to properly scrutinise the implementation of government programmes and policies which have led to many leakages. In that respect, as elected representatives, there has been a glaring failure.

Examples of these are as follows:-

(a)    Failing to respond to the various allegations of corruption and providing workable alternatives to tackle this scourge.

(b)    No study on the consequences and impact of the Peaceful Assembly Bill by our MCA wakil rakyats.

(c)    Failing to stand up for media freedom and constantly pointing at the inequitable conduct of the opposition especially in Penang, whilst forgetting that this is not a race to the bottom.

There are many more questions like this and it all boils down to how critical and outspoken MCA has been over the past five years. To this end, I must concede that as a member, I, too have not been vocal and critical enough. So leaders and members of MCA alike, we must change our mindset and be more inquisitive and critical, instead of accepting whatever is fed to us as the gospel truth. This is the beginning of our journey for reform — MCA must take a forceful stand against perceived injustices. The tai kor mentality must be replaced with one that is humble and interactive so those we seek to represent will appreciate our efforts.

As a start in this journey of reform, we must push for a Royal Commission of Inquiry to look into the claims of foreign voters voting in our 13th General Elections, claims of indelible inks being washed off and claims of blackouts at polling centres; the Election Commission must also not be spared where its members must resign en bloc to restore the faith of the people in the electoral process. While the counting of votes is transparent with the presence of agents of the candidates, a lot of the problems stem from the electoral roll and a clean-up is mandatory.

While the Election Commission needs to be reformed, the ways of which MCA leaders are elected into office must also be revamped. Direct election is the only way forward for a party of this size, consisting of almost a million members, to be reflective of which way the majority of the party members want the party to head to, instead of leaving such an important decision to be made by the mere 2,300 central delegates. Further, while I have never participated in any of the party elections so far, this move will reduce the impact of money politics which many allege is a normal occurrence in party elections. To this end, the leaders of MCA must realize that if UMNO with over 4 million members is brave enough to do this, why should we, a party a quarter of the size of UMNO, be worried?

Lastly, given such poor performance in the General Election, the present crop of MCA leaders must take responsibility for the results. The former Prime Minister vacated his post after the poor performance in the 12th General Election, and so have Tan Sri Ong Ka Ting and Teng Chang Yeow who have all vacated their party positions for the same reason. It is vital that we do the same immediately after this General Election to make way for new leaders to find the new, right winning formula for the party to regain its pride and to better serve the interests of the people.

Due to the limits within the party constitution, I am unlikely to be able to stand for office in the party or vote in the upcoming party election. It is my hope, however, that party members will consider my proposals above to strengthen the party we all love.

Remember, we are what we vote for.


Eric Choo is a young lawyer practising in Melaka and the current Legal Bureau Chief of MCA Jasin, Melaka. He tweets at @choows and describes himself as an idealist who wish to see his country progress...

8 replies on “Back to the drawing board for MCA”

  1. MCA has lost touch with the grassroots and deserved to be punished. You should have realised by now that people are fed-up with race and religious exploitation that is the hallmark of UMNO and you happily went into it. Times have changed and the new generation are more educated than ever. The rural areas may be your fixed deposit but soon they too will be better informed. You need to change, too. Otherwise, you too will become irrelevant. Just know that citizens want honesty in government and less of race/ religious exploitation. The new government has already started on the wrong note by blaming the Chinese tsunami. It seems incapable of reading the peoples' mood except through an old glass window of race. religion and money. It would appear that BN will continue on its destruction path in the next five years.

  2. Dear Chow, some pointers here for the leadership :
    1. The decades of golden silence fr yr leaders past and present on issues affecting the community was unbearable, apologist remarks to intimidations fr pekosa was the last nail.
    2. All unsmart old guards shd disappear, allow young smart brains to lead.
    3. Shake off the ugly businessmen club image… real to help the community, not in disguise as everybody knew.We ain't stupid anymore .
    4. Don't waste time rebrand, refresh, rewhatever MCA….it's a goner. Merge all struggling parties MCA,PPP,MIC,Gerakan as one united party and genuinely participate in nation building for ALL races instead of wealth building for elite few.
    5. Speak up on what's not right for the nation eventho' they come fr own party members ,Pakatan or boss Umno. Past pretension not hearing it or answering in kiddy textbook style will make all of us look pondan .
    6. No need to overplay hudud, race,DAP pain in the neck,DSAI and hypothesis issues, be a gentleman in resolving problems and people will appreciate and believe your leadership bcos most of want fair,just,non-racist, competent leaders, no more smiling yesmen.

  3. Thanks Shan for your kind comment and suggestions. Realistically, UMNO has won more seats so unlikely that they will want to disband then merge with all the component parties and come out as one. But the defeated ones like MCA and Gerakan must take lead in doing so. Race based politics model is no longer the right model, we must change now or be changed by GE14. I also agree that the fight against corruption must be serious, failing which we will be wiped out of the urban areas.

  4. Nice!

    This is a very thoughtful piece, and I hope the MCA leadership listens to you, Eric.

    I doubt they will, though. Ego, past history and money may prevent them from moving forward. And if they are no longer concentrating on race based policies, why be the MCA? I think the component parties in Barisan must dissolve, and all of you merge into one party. That would be a first step, perhaps to becoming acceptable.

    The other main step must be to actively and really tackle corruption, and not the whitewash going on now. Because we know that we are going to hear about Rosmah's ring and all the other stuff BN leaders get up to over the next 5 years, and this will never persuade urban voters to support BN.

    All the best to you anyway in your quest to clean up your party.

  5. I didn't get the MCA campaign for Subang Jaya/Kelana Jaya at all. It was purely race and religion. On one hand you have papers and ads slamming DAP by association with PAS Islamist stand. You do know that almost all seats in Malaysia there is at least 40% Malay Muslim voters? Yes we can also read English and use the Internet and see the ads in the The Star and on Youtube. We also get racially profiled targeted SMS spam about protecting bangsa and agama.

    So a vote for DAP is also a vote for PAS and Islam? The racial profiling of the SMS says I should for DAP then.

    While a vote for MCA is a vote against Islam? How is the MCA candidate going to convince me he/she will protect bangsa and agama? Not that urban Malay voters think that race and religion is under threat.

    Then there was almost no banners with face or names of the BN candidates. When they were posted in second week, I have no idea who they are. I know Lee Hwa Beng who knows his constituency well ie. we read books, are on-line and concerned about issues such as corruption and education for our kids.

    Healthy democracy requires good opposition and I hope MCA can reinvent itself.

    1. Thank you for your comment. I agree with you in many aspects, especially the part where we need two equally strong coalitions for the two coalition system to work. MCA must reform and we must do it fast before the next GE. Whether we will come back as the Government or the Opposition, at the very least we must be able to play the role of check and balance well for the betterment of this country.

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