Saturday, October 24, 2009

The Crisis in MCA

How MCA Leaders Can End Impasse
K. K. Tan

THE current crisis in MCA is largely caused by personality clashes, sensitivities and egos. It is manifesting itself in the ugly power struggle, confusion, antagonism and disunity in the party. The party is also becoming the laughing stock of the Chinese community and other Malaysians. The problem has even shaken its Barisan Nasional partners, especially Umno, which is worried that a greatly weakened MCA will be a liability to the coalition.

Many of the sensational reports and articles on this crisis, especially over the Internet, are getting out of control and devoid of real substance. They focus on personality politics, play up one leader against another and make unsubstantiated allegations against some leaders. These writers are not doing justice to the case and are making the matter worse. Many MCA leaders are getting very suspicious and paranoid when they are already sensitive to criticisms.

Sensitivity to criticisms and being unduly reserved in expressing a view are common Asian cultural traits which political leaders must learn to overcome.

The temperature in MCA needs to be cooled down quickly instead of allowing the fire to be stoked further which would burn the "house" down.

Sure, every political party has its power struggles and divisions. But power struggles and differences must be based on principles, ideologies, ideas and the positions on the various issues facing the community and country.

The party leaders must learn to agree to disagree on issues, ideas and principles and they must learn to give their political opponents due respect. As politicians, they cannot afford to be too sensitive to criticisms and adverse to different viewpoints. Magnanimity is a strength and not a weakness of a good political leader.

Even if some leaders feel they have a duty to expose other leaders whom they believe to be corrupt or dishonest or have a selfish agenda, they must make their case objectively with facts and let the members and delegates be the judge. They should not insinuate against or malign their opponents based solely on hearsay. The leaders need to set an example by not being personal in their political struggle.

There is nothing wrong with seeking political power but what’s the purpose or basis of such power? What’s their game plan for the party for the political power that they are seeking or maintaining?

As current or aspiring leaders, they must openly state their stand and tell the members and the public what they are offering to the party. It cannot be "business as usual" or MCA may soon become extinct.

How are they going to transform and reform the party to win back the support of the Chinese community? How are they going to make MCA more relevant to the current and future generations?

They should know that MCA cannot continue being perceived to be a parochial, race-based party. The party must eventually open up to become more inclusive (multi-racial) in line with the broad aspirations of most Malaysians to achieve greater national unity and to collectively increase the economic wealth for all.

So while they are busy trying to win over the support of the Chinese community, they should not forget the non-Chinese as well as their vote and support can also determine the destiny of MCA.

What are the leaders’ political principles and ideas on how to transform the party? What is their stand on the various national issues? How can MCA be strong, effective and fair and at the same time, it is not perceived as being "threatening" to the other race-based parties in BN and the Opposition?

What do the leaders plan to do with the reported accumulated financial assets of over RM1.5 billion belonging to MCA? The party was not set up to be an investment company but a political party with clear objectives. The past leaders should be commended for investing the assets wisely to get maximum financial returns. But what is the plan of the current leaders to use at least some of these assets to get the best political returns for the party?

In short, what is their "business plan" to transform MCA into a respected, credible and effective organisation and how can MCA deal effectively with the various issues confronting the community and country? How can MCA work effectively with Umno and other parties to secure the best returns for the community it represents? This is where we can see the "true colours" of the leaders.

Half the present internal crisis can be solved if the leaders concerned focus on their stand on issues, political principles and plan for MCA. The leaders and their supporters must avoid personal bickering, character assassination and personality clashes, which do more harm than good to the party.

The MCA leaders must end the confusion, negative emotions and antagonism which are clouding the issues for their members and the public. Let their differences and the debate be based on principles, stand, ideas and plan. Let there be political maturity in handling such differences with greater mutual respect and recognition.

The common objectives of the party should form the basis of unity as the "bottom line" and the leaders must be reminded that whatever differences they may have, they must still work and stand together for the common good. They must not let the party which their forefathers have built up for over two generations to be so easily destroyed.

KK Tan is the CEO of a strategic think tank consultancy firm. He writes a monthly column, Beyond Race, for theSun. Comments:

Source: theSun, October 20, 2009

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