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MCA leaders should by now be aware of the political significance of the March 8 election which swept the Opposition to power in five states. If there is still any doubt, the Permatang Pauh by-election which gave Pakatan Rakyat’s Anwar Ibrahim a landslide victory should cast aside any reservations of why the non-Malays abandoned traditional race based parties and gave their full support to the opposition parties of DAP and PKR.

From the current jockeying for MCA leadership, one important aspect which most of them fail to take stock of is the future direction of the party. None of the leaders seem to have any idea where the party is heading.

If the current groundswell of discontent among the non-Malays is any indication, MCA would have been history after the 13th General Election. Therefore it becomes irrelevant and of no consequence who should lead MCA if their intent is to remain in the Barisan National.

MCA and all the other BN component parties in the coalition will die a natural death after the next general election. This has been confirmed by the by-election in Permatang Pauh, where the majority of the Chinese voted for Anwar. And this despite the promise of monetary contributions to Chinese schools.

In previous elections, such strategies would have bought the support of the Chinese community. But after 50 years, non-Malay voters have become more savvy in their electoral preference.

Ong Ka Ting, the current President of MCA would do a great service to the Chinese community by taking the MCA out of the Barisan Nasional and joining the current popular Pakatan Rakyat. Ong's decision to change the future direction of MCA by joining Pakatan Rakyat would not only save an otherwise doomed party but would rekindle its aspiration to represent the interest of the Chinese community. Failure to do this would spell the death of MCA as a party representing the Chinese.

An astute leader would have seen the writing on the wall. The Chinese no longer want to play second fiddle to Umno and be merely satisfied with the crumbs they dish out to MCA leaders. For too long, MCA leaders have remained silent while Umno's racists members lash out and threaten Chinese leaders who vocalised more equitable policies in education and business.

In Anwar, they have found a leader who would be fair and equitable to all races guided by the basic principle that need and poverty would supplant the policy of helping along racial lines.

The policy espoused by Pakatan Rakyat is a fair and equitable one. If 70 percent of the poor living in rural areas are Malays then so be it, they would qualify for the bulk of the government’s help.

The policy implemented would be to help 70 percent of the poor Malays not along racial lines but because it so happens that 70 percent of the poor are Malays. However, the 30 percent of poor Indians and Chinese are also not forgotten. The policy would automatically extend help to other communities who needs help because of their poverty levels and not because of racial factors.

Such an equitable policy, even though slanted to help the rural Malays more, would be acceptable to all races because government assistance is only extended to those who genuinely need help and not to those who are rich and belong to one particular race.

Ong Ka Ting would go down in history as a great Chinese leader if he can grasp this opportunity and lead MCA into a new and acceptable direction that would guarantee a brighter future for the Chinese community. If Ong chooses not to do so, then he will go down in history as the president who could have changed the plight of the Chinese people but chose not to do so.

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