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"MCA has misjudged the feeling of the Chinese community."

A few years ago, I wrote an article entitled “The Fate of MCA Lies On Its Structure”. It was written in May, 2003 when Datuk Seri Ong Ka Ting and Datuk Seri Chan Kong Choy were the newly minted party chairman and deputy chairman.

I asked: What changes have been made to the structure of MCA since the independence of the country?

Many people miss the glorious era of Tun Tan Cheng Lock and feel sad when they talk about today's MCA. The political pattern of Malaysia has changed but the pattern of MCA failed to catch up with it and it is now going backward and keep narrowing.

To a large extent, MCA still remains in its welfare role of 1950s. When the Public Services and Complaints Department (PSDC) of Datuk Michael Chong became more and more important, the people would first think of him when they were in trouble. In fact, this has also reflected the emptiness of the party's ideology, as well as its policies.

How large the structure of MCA be when its members prioritise personal interest and power? And how could we call it a structure when the status of MCA in BN and the government is merely a “subordinate” instead of a “partner”, with the relationship of “master-servant” and “father-son”?

The time has changed, as well as the people's thought. How could it survive if it stays on with its small role? And this would be its fate if its structure remains the same.

From 2003 until before the 2008 general elections, MCA has been trapped in its small structure, it failed to display its strength and revealed its emptiness.

MCA was unable to refute the Malay agenda brought up in the Umno General Assembly. MCA tried to offer an explanation to save its own face when Umno Youth chief kissed and brandished the keris. MCA was so humiliated when the Prime Minister ordered it to withdraw the memorandum submitted by non-Muslim ministers. These incidents have led to the build up of the pressure of racial politics.

MCA leaders seemed did not understand the significance of the problem but thought that the Chinese community would forget about the incidents when the circumstances change with the passage of time.

MCA has misjudged the feeling of the Chinese community.

They might leave aside the incidents but the trauma is difficult to be healed. The Chinese community began to voice out their accumulated discontentments.

Before the elections, MCA tried to retrieve support of the people by raising issues of the relocation and building more Chinese primary schools. But Chinese schools were no longer merely the problem of Chinese primary schools. It was a collective discontentment and anxiety which would explode on the polling day.

Just as expected, BN lost 65% of Chinese votes and MCA suffered a great defeat.

And now, MCA must learn from the bitter experience and think about what direction it should take for its future?

MCA should ask itself whether its ideology is outdated? Where is the party's political vision? Where will it be five years later? And what will happen to the party after 10 years? Whether MCA should continue with its race-based welfare role?

If Umno continues with its Malay agenda, MCA will be further marginalised.

MCA kept only its stronghold of Johor as it has lost its influence in North and Central of PeninsularMalaysia. If it fails to achive a breakthrough, probably, it will turn out to be a district party.

MCA must completely change in terms of its thinking and policies as it has to face the challenge of DAP and PKR, as well as the restraint of Umno.

It should widen its vision, upgrade the level it pursues, accelerate the pace of its efforts, improve and strengthen its ideology in order to survive in the political arena of Malaysia. Otherwise, this would be its fate if its structure remains the same. (By TAY TIAN YAN/ Translated by SOONG PHUI JEE/ Sin Chew Daily)