Saturday, May 25

October 10 — not too good a date for two parties


FOR those who remember Chinese history, Oct 10 is significant because of the uprising in China that toppled the Qing Dynasty. It was popularly recorded as the October 10 rebellion. This took place 98 years ago.For us in Sarawak, next Saturday (Oct 10) will just be another day. I don’t think anything significant is going to happen on that day or anything has been planned. Perhaps it’s only the birthday of my dog in Kuching, if that day is of any significance to me.

Over in Kuala Lumpur however, two important political events will take place. It is a red-letter Saturday for national party politics.

One, the MCA’s highly anticipated extraordinary general meeting on the positions of party president Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat and suspended former deputy president Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek is scheduled for Double-Ten.

In fact, it will be a Triple-Ten. The EGM will be held at 10am on the 10th day of the 10th month. I think the proponents of the meeting must have wanted it to be an event to be remembered and be recorded as the Tripe-Ten EGM.

For many of us in Sarawak, I suppose MCA means nothing to us. Personally, I have no attachment to the party at all although I am a Chinese and it is supposed to represent the Chinese community. But MCA has not come to Sarawak and even if it does, I’m not sure I want to sign up with it.

Of course, there will be others who will join the party for the simple reason that it is a BN component party and there are more opportunities for survival in a government party. For many who enter politics, it’s all about business and MCA is business. Why not, it is the second richest party in the country after Umno in terms of assets, at least.

On Oct 10, Ong will be the first MCA president to put his position and his job in the hands of some 2,400 delegates in the party. This is how serious his personal problems are with his estranged deputy, Chua.

Ong has already declared, “It’s either Chua or me!” Now the MCA saga will be played out exactly the way I’ve described before – when two fighting cocks meet for a duel, only one is left standing.

Frankly, whichever fighting cock wins is not going to make any difference to me. Why, I don’t bet on cock fights.

But seriously, while MCA or its leaders mean nothing to me or you, it’s crucial for this nation to have dedicated, disciplined and accountable Chinese leaders in government.

Even if we don’t like the MCA, it is already the party in government and it is incumbent upon MCA delegates and members to choose their leaders responsibly.

How I wish current MCA leaders are of the same calibre as the party’s founding fathers like Tun Tan Cheng Lock. MCA history has shown that after the presidency of Tun Tan Siew Sin, serious internal strife emerged one after another beginning with Datuk Lee San Choon and Datuk Michael Chen in the late 70s.

Indeed, the catalogue of MCA failures and misdeeds range from the dismal performance of the MCA leadership and its pathetic MCA record in the Barisan Nasional. The MCA Merdeka leaders must be rolling in their graves.

I’m not sure that the results of the Oct 10 EGM will turn  MCA  into  a more cohesive party. But for the sake of our fellow Chinese citizens in the peninsula, let’s hope it will somehow make a difference in the future direction of the party and in turn  for  those  who have faith in the MCA.

Oct 10 will also be a ‘miserable day’ for the biggest Indian party in the country, the MIC.

Next Saturday, Prime Minister  Datuk   Seri  Najib Abdul Razak will officiate at the launch of the Indian-based Malaysia Makkal Sakthi Party (MMSP).

What is interesting here is that this is  the  first time the  BN  chairman will be officiating at the launch of a non-BN party. Now, what signal does that give to the MIC? If I were Datuk Seri Samy Vellu, I would be fuming or even worse – bang the table in front of the prime minister and demand an explanation from him.

“What is this, are you divorcing your old maid (MIC) to marry a virgin (MMSP)?” I would have demanded.

Samy actually brought up the matter with Najib this week. According to Samy, the prime minister replied that “if MMSP can bring back Indian support to the BN, why not”. The MIC president said he left it at that after Najib’s response.

MMSP was born and fired up by the uncompromising belligerence of the Hindraf movement. It is in fact, a faction of Hindraf. Perhaps Umno leaders felt that it was the more cooperative and tolerable section of Hindraf and they were willing to try out the group. But it is a gamble Najib and Umno have to take given the waning support among the Indian community for the MIC.

MMSP is led by party president RS Thanenthiran and secretary-general Kannan Ramasamy, both former Hindraf organisers, and not really well known figures.

The party claims to have more than 50,000 members and would be joined by many MIC members and former leaders.

Surprisingly, former Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad also gave the new party a leg up by stating that Makkal Sakthi would be able to win back Indian support for the BN.

Although the formation of the new party has rattled MIC leaders somewhat, it is still early days for Makkal Sakthi. Their first task could possibly be whether they could gain entry into BN.

On Oct 11, it will be polling day for the Bagan Pinang by-election but the event pales in comparison with the Oct 10 MCA meeting and the MMSP launch by the prime minister.

What will happen next in the MCA and MMSP will be interesting to watch in the days and months ahead.

(Comments can reach the writer at [email protected])