I would like to comment on MCA president Ong Ka Ting's interview with The Star recently entitled MCA the voice of the Chinese .

In the interview, the MCA president has nothing new to offer to the Malaysian public but only reaffirms what his party has been doing for the past 50 years - being a spokesperson of the Umno-led government. Ong could have commented on how to improve public policy but instead he wasted valuable space to tell us that he has access to the Umno-led government.

The interview only serves to prove that my earlier held thoughts and impressions are correct in that the MCA is not part of the governing body but they merely acts as a government spokesman to the Chinese Malaysian community. Or worse, it is still a middle man between the Umno-led government and the Chinese Malaysian community.

Ong tells us that the MCA would help to convey our message to Umno and internal meetings (read: closed-door meetings) will be held to discuss matters. He says that it is then totally up to the government to make a decision at an appropriate time. The MCA has no influence over it and I suppose will try to keep the discussions as mysterious as possible so that nobody can comprehend it. What a waste of time!

MCA should get rid of the 'spokesman' and 'middle man' mentality and start to govern like a party in power and be part of the decision-making process. It is very interesting though, for the MCA to position itself as a 'spokesperson' of the government for the Chinese community.

As a spokesperson, you normally don't have real authority over matters although you know fairly well what the body that you are representing does. You cannot even change the course of policy direction even though you know the direction being taken is a disastrous one.

Ong charged that the MCA has been misunderstood by those who do not have the opportunity to attend these internal meetings. If that is so, my advice to Ong is to conduct a full-scale public debate in Parliament to enlighten the Malaysian public of your great contributions. The good thing about parliamentary debate is that nobody will misunderstand your efforts. If a parliamentary debate is too heavy for you, then why not solve issue through the cabinet?

I don't understand what kind of internal meetings he is talking about that are more powerful than the cabinet. It is sad to read about a full cabinet minister totally ignoring the cabinet and placing dubious 'internal meetings' as a more powerful process than the cabinet. Either he is ignorant about the cabinet's function or he has no courage to speak out during its (the cabinet's) meetings.

It is very interesting also for Ong to talk about MCA's constraints with regards to safeguarding the interests of the Chinese community and maintaining national unity. He must realise that the constraints that he is talking about are really self-inflicted ones as national unity and race-based political parties are incompatible entities.

I must say that he is a hypocrite to emphasise on national unity on one hand and on the other, proudly displaying MCA as a voice of the Chinese community as if it is a best possible political invention in the history of Malaysia.

It is very obvious that the MCA has played a very minor role in the government. If I were to summarise MCA's role through Ong's interview, it would be that he is the spokesman, attending meetings (internal ones) and holding dialogues/fora/seminars to disseminate correct information (I wonder how correct this information is).

He also personally talks to other ministers (access) and proposes to the relevant authorities on how to solve issues (with no authority or influence over matters). Indeed, it is disheartening to read that the MCA, which claims to be the second-largest political party in Malaysia, has been downgraded to a mere message deliverer.

In essence, MCA is still a Chinese welfare organisation with a ministerial position after 50 years of its existence. Its position over the years since Independence has become more irrelevant in the face of rapid urbanisation, an information explosion and an increasingly better-educated population having access into many alternative news sources.

The day when Chinese, Malays, Indians, Kadazans, Melanaus and many other communities claim to be Malaysian first is coming and that day would spell disaster for Barisan Nasional's race- based political parties. That the BN is fighting against that Malaysian tidal wave with all its might is both ironical and hypocritical. As Malaysians, we must not let them succeed.

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