MCA with Nowhere to Go 

MCA is a party that has been used to being in government since even before independence. Now that it’s not, it would naturally feel lost and disconnected. Indeed, one of the fundamental dilemmas it now faces is, what is the role it should play? 

Kee Thuan Chye

Post-GE13 (13th general election), the MCA is looking more lost than ever before. It is like the partygoer who is all dressed up with nowhere to go. Except that in its case, its dress is somewhat tattered and its face rather bruised after the beating it took at the polls. From the 15 parliamentary seats it held prior to GE13, it now has only seven – and for this poor showing, it has had to heed the call of its president, Chua Soi Lek, to refrain from taking positions in government, including the Cabinet.
Way before GE13, Chua had taken the ill-advised stand that if the MCA did not get enough voter support, it would play no part in government. He had expected then that the Chinese community the party claims to represent would largely abandon it, and in order to win them back sought to make them fear that a government without MCA representation would be disastrous.
Too bad for him and the party, the strategy didn’t work. Simply because fear-mongering and threats don’t go down well with Malaysian voters any more, especially if they can think for themselves and opt to do the right thing. Besides, the Chinese already knew that MCA participation in the government was little more than endorsing whatever big brother Umno decided, rather than fighting for the community. So they dealt the MCA its biggest blow.
Now, because of Chua’s hubris, all and sundry among the MCA leaders have to abide by his foolish stand. And, naturally, this is bound to cause disgruntlement among its ranks. And likely mutiny.
Already, in Johor, Tee Siew Keong has defied the order by accepting an executive councillor position. In response, the party’s presidential council has suspended him for three years. It did not go so far as to sack him, but its action is enough to cause uneasiness.
Last week, vice-president Donald Lim Siang Chai reportedly said Chua should admit he was wrong about his stand and call for an extraordinary general meeting to review the order. But this drew Chua’s ire – apart from insisting that the decision was a collective one made by the party’s central committee, he lashed out at Lim for having been one of those who endorsed it.
Lim, however, maintained that Chua was the “key figure” behind the decision, and that no one in the central committee had dared to object.
Since then, only a few days ago, a high-ranking party leader who declined to be named has publicly acknowledged agreement with Chua that the decision was made collectively, but he also said it was a “collective mistake”.
“And we must collectively correct that mistake,” he added. 

Chua must be a poor student of human nature not to have seen this coming. No one who has experienced being in a position of some power before would want to give it up without rancour. Not if they feel they are entitled to it as leaders of a senior component party of the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition.

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