Saturday, October 25, 2008

MCA: A Tortuous Path Ahead

After the dust has settled, and the Ong-Chua pair is taking charge, what lies ahead of MCA may be yet another round of complicated tussles.

Ong Tee Keat and Chua Soi Lek are politicians at two different ends of the character spectrum: One has reiterated his non-involvement in factional politics and been nicknamed "lone ranger" in the party; while the other boasts a strong and potentially fiery personality. This unlikely combination is going to give MCA more unknowns in the future.

From what we can see, the election of Ong and Chua shows none of the factions has won or lost all. Instead, a newly formed counteracting mechanism may help prevent any power abuse that may arise.

Such an outcome also reflects a very high degree of democracy in the MCA elections. Having said that, all the good things in life need a most fundamental prerequisite to bring them into fruition, that is to say, the two leaders must share the same aspirations in their struggles to bring about the much needed reforms.

Frankly speaking, the reshuffling of top leadership appears to have been a spontaneous process in the natural restructuring of intrinsic political forces within MCA after the March general elections. And also this alone will eventually salvage and revitalise MCA.

It is undeniable that MCA members have strongly expressed their views through the party election as they inch closer towards mainstream public consensus. Such a choice has also underscored party members' desire to seek changes, while offering a glimpse into their helpless search for hope in the midst of desperation.

Prior to the election, many party members admitted they had very high expectations from the new leadership, but excessive worries followed.

Their worries have been built upon the situation in which leaders from the opposing factions are now represented in the new leadership, which may open up a whole new world of reformation for MCA, but may just as well drag the party into utter commotion.

While there are still a great deal of uncertainties in the country's political future, there are as many unpredictable unknowns in MCA's future.

It is an open secret that Ong Tee Keat and Chua Soi Lek have not been in good terms with each other. Among the newly elected vice presidents are members from both the Ong and Chua camps, and some said seven to nine central committee members (of a total of 25) are leaning towards Soi Lek.

These are all facts implying that MCA may once again sink into chaotic infighting.

What to do with the defeated Ong Ka Chuan? Will Soi Lek be made a Cabinet minister again? Who will now chair the state liaison committees? If the two factions fail to close the gap between them and continue to engross themselves in endless infighting, then the party will only sink faster into destruction.

Democracy is a counteracting force of power, but abusing democracy to launch endless infighting will also speed up the party's fall from grace.

The new party helmsman Ong Tee Keat will most unlikely avert various conflicts and trials within the party. Within the party, the primary task he will now have to face is: how to mend the ties torn apart during the campaign period? How to convert the malicious interactions between them into a positive gesture? How to let the feud from party elections cool down? It needs a lot of wisdom and time as well as sincerity to put things right again.

Outside the party, the situation may only get more challenging.

The situation today, whichever way we look at it, is extremely hostile to MCA. With the rifts within BN component parties deepening by the day, and a strong-willed Najib taking over the reins of government soon, it will remain an uphill task for MCA to wean itself from all the unfair relationships with UMNO.

Another threat comes from the increasingly boisterous Pakatan Rakyat.

Having grabbed controls over five states in the general elections, the opposition alliance is now prowling on the federal administration. This, coupled with the global financial crisis, will most likely mean a cruel duel of survival for both MCA and BN.

Change is not equivalent to reform. This is a simple reasoning that everyone knows. While MCA has elected a new leadership, what lies ahead of the party is an even more unpredictable future. MCA must successfully transform itself and be delivered from its quintessential image of submission over the next few years in order to regain public faith, have its integrity restored, and recoup the lost grounds in the next general elections.

Can MCA do that?

The road ahead is going to be very tough and tortuous for MCA! (By LIM MUN FAH/Translated by DOMINIC LOH/Sin Chew Daily)