Quo vadis, MCA?

By Lee Seng Hock, The Star

Tomorrow is D-Day for the 62-year-old party facing a titanic crisis.

QUO vadis? This Latin phrase means “whither goest thou?” or “where are you going?”.

This poignant question goes back to a legend in the Christian tradition in which the apostle Peter met the Lord Jesus as the apostle was fleeing from persecution in Rome.

Peter asked Jesus the question “Quo vadis?”. Jesus answered “Eo Romam iterum crucifigi (I am going to Rome to be crucified again),” which prompted Peter to gain the courage to stay on to face the persecution and eventually die a martyr’s death.

This 2,000-year-old question “Quo vadis?” has often been asked each time someone or some organisation or institution faces a crisis.

And it is surely the most appropriate question for the MCA now that it is facing perhaps the most serious crisis in its 62-year-old history.

The current crisis is certainly of a tsunamic proportion.

At stake is nothing less than the future of the party, and the 2,380 delegates to the EGM tomorrow need wisdom, maturity and a clear conscience to make the right decision.

One foolish move on their part may sound the death knell for their party.

Looking at the matter objectively, the choice before the delegates is surely obvious – vote for the survival and strengthening of the party.

Certain criteria should be used in their decision on what to vote for.

For instance, the question of integrity and moral uprightness should be foremost in the exercise of their sacred duty as representatives of the grassroots.

If the MCA leaders and members are honest in facing the truth, they must realise that the party is increasingly being considered irrelevant or even irredeemable in the eyes of the community it is supposed to represent and serve.

Hence, the massive rejection of the party’s candidates in the March 2008 general election.

The general perception among the Chinese community is that the MCA lacks access to real political power and vital economic resources to be of any significance and relevance in the overall socio-economic and political scenario in the country.

Whatever position, power or resources the MCA has been given by the Barisan Nasional coalition government is seen as mere tokenism, a sort of political exfoliating, or window-dressing.

Such perception has undermined the party’s standing, influence and impact in the Chinese community.

The saving grace is perhaps that many in the Chinese community are appreciative of its educational efforts via the Tunku Abdul Rahman College and Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman.

When Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat took over the helm about a year ago, many party members and even some non-members in the Chinese community at large looked with great anticipation, expectation and hope that the MCA will finally be reformed, rejuvenated and regenerated.

Ong is perhaps one of those rare species of establishment politicians that even some anti-establishment intellectuals and Opposition members have much respect for, although they may not buy into his political ideas and ideals.

With a reputation as a no-nonsense person and a straight-talking, clean politician and dynamic leader, Ong offers the Chinese community a breath of fresh political air in an environment of polluted, corrupt and immoral odours.

Many in the Chinese community have looked with expectant hope of a reborn MCA with a renewed vision under the dynamic leadership of Ong.

This anticipated dream could be smashed overnight if the delegates allow someone whose integrity and moral conduct are questionable to throw a spanner in the works, simply because of his own selfish political ambition, with no consideration for the larger interest of the party and the future of the community it represents.

The 2,380 delegates must take serious consideration of the dire implication of supporting and endorsing anything that could damage their party further or even destroy it totally.

They have the responsibility to ensure that the honest leadership of Ong would not be usurped by an emotional coup de foudre.

The price of such a scenario is surely too high to pay. It may cause the complete ruin of the party.

Quo vadis, MCA?

Thomas, who retired as a deputy editor of The Star in June, has been a journalist and socio-political observer and analyst for nearly 35 years.