October 14, 2012
The Last of the Mohicans in MCA–Tan Koon Swan
by Christopher Fernandez (09-18-12), Malaysia Chronicle
Since its inception the Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA) has long been considered by the Chinese population in this country to be the custodians of the community, safeguarding and protecting the interest of the race.
But that was what the MCA started out with, to be a party to champion and ensure that the Chinese in Malaya and later Malaysia will enjoy a certain protection and security from the threats of “outside influences” against them.
The MCA didn’t coddle the Chinese community but caused them to face up to the hard, harsh realities of being immigrants from mainland China wanting to escape the hardships of communism and wanting a better life in this country.
Founder-President of MCA, Tun Tan Cheng Lock (right), an astute man who lived his politics to ensure the Chinese community fared well in this country, though he was of Baba heritage from Malacca, gave confidence to the Chinese that they have a place under the sun in Malaya.
The British had left, as the sun, contradictory to what Queen Victoria once said, had set on the British Empire and it was now evident the Independence of Malaya had caused the Chinese to view with a certain apprehension, fear and doubt over their status in this country.
Siew Sin and his betrayal of the Chinese community
Their fear was not without basis, as MCA under the stewardship of Cheng Lock’s son, Tan Siew Sin, crumbled in the aftermath of the May 13, 1969 race riots and left the ruling coalition for a spell.
When Siew Sin (left) and MCA returned to the fold, it was at a heavy price and many Chinese blamed him for having betrayed the Chinese community and buckling under pressure by compromising on their fair and equitable stake in the country.
This was a devastating blow for MCA and the Chinese in Malaysia, though Siew Sin himself was amply rewarded and went on to become Malaysia’s longest serving finance minister. He was however viewed by the Chinese as having “kow-tow” or stooped to the wishes of UMNO.
As Siew Sin and MCA caved-in, the New Economic Policy (NEP) was subsequently implemented on the specious grounds of providing affirmative action for the newly-coined term for people known as “bumiputras” (indigenous people or sons of the soil).
Doubtless that era spelt the beginning of doom for Malaysia and the non-bumiputra’s as evidence now is overwhelming that the NEP only served to create the minority bumiputra elite that exists now. The larger masses of still down-and-out bumiputras were merely manipulated by the ploy of UMNO.
An opportunity to redress the issue goes awry
MCA eventually became a crony establishment who veered off-track on the founding principles of the organization to look into the welfare and well-being of the Chinese community with their presidents being proudly fond of sucking up to UMNO leaders.
If there ever was an MCA President who bucked the trend, it was the affable Tan Koon Swan (right) who was once described by the now-defunct Asiaweek magazine as being “the most brilliant Chinese in Malaysia” when he helmed the MCA.
Asiaweek, in a later issue, also confirmed Mahathir Mohammad as the “6th most powerful man in Asia” owing to his growing influence in the region and having been instrumental in transforming Malaysia from an agrarian-based economy by introducing a slew of new industries.
Koon Swan was a maverick who saw that the time was opportune in this newly-industrialized environment to restore fair play, meritocracy and egalitarian values in the country and to restore the status of the non-bumiputras as being equal with bumiputras and in wanting to cause the separation and division to be eradicated.
In wanting to do so, he underestimated that the daggers had been drawn against him by UMNO and was hauled up by the Singapore authorities in the Pan-El crisis to answer charges preferred against him.
The writing was on the wall against him and having recognized that this was nothing but a political conspiracy by UMNO to cut him down to size and put him in his place, as a man with a sense of the realities of Malay politics, he pleaded guilty to virtually all the charges preferred against him.
In prosecuting him, Glenn Knight (left) was at his usual swashbuckling style to not want to lose the case and though there was a period of trial, Koon Swan knew he had painted himself into a corner of Changi Prison.
Ironically, the over-zealous dark Knight may have risen to become Singapore’s Attorney-General, only to find himself also landing into the same prison as Koon Swan later on, after charges of corruption were made against him, to which he was found guilty and duly sentenced.
In a remorseful apology to Koon Swan now by Knight, it must be noted that it was not the Singapore Judiciary that was in doubt or had to be questioned, but Knight prosecuting with overwhelming vigor to ensure that “the big fish doesn’t get away.”
It is only right for Knight to apologize to Koon Swan for the surprising enthusiasm with which he wanted to “nail the culprit” but the Judiciary of Singapore was in no way compromised on the dispensation of justice neither did it err in any way.
But for MCA and the Chinese community, the incarceration of Koon Swan caused him to resign as President and since then the presidents in power are those who have a great penchant of giving in to the wishes, aspirations and instructions of UMNO.
What now for MCA?
With Chua Soi Lek at the helm now, the status quo is being maintained as the current MCA President is really the worst possible choice to have been elected by MCA members as he stands in blatant and flagrant disregard for the civility of being President of MCA.
If the President of the United States of America governs from the Oval office, the President of MCA goes about his business seemingly from the Oral office. The fact that despite being caught in the sleazy act of oral sex with a lady friend he can be put up to front the MCA ,while more capable and able candidates were swept aside, shows UMNO’s endorsement of the kind of leaders they wish for to steer MCA within Barian Nasional.
Of all the highly qualified and capable people from the Chinese community, a character like Soi Lek is helming the party goes to show to the right-thinking members of the Chinese community that it is high time to flee and cross over perhaps to the Democratic Action Party (DAP) as the DAP leaders still seem to have their head on their shoulders.
Soi Lek has been going on a rampage on behalf of UMNO with the Selangor state government over the issue of an impending water crisis developing in the state. The MCA president has obviously run out of ammunition and now is shooting with a “water gun” to scare the residents and voters of Selangor before the 13th GE.
Who are we trying to kid here? Besides Soi Lek, the new kid on the block for MCA, Chua Tee Yong, is trying to scandalize the Selangor government by creating “Talamgate” which has drawn more amusement and bewilderment by the Selangor state exco and the people of the state.
MCA to go on a downward spiral all the way
Has MCA run out of thoughts, ideas and strategies that really work and can benefit the people of Malaysia that they have to stoop to a new low in wanting to see the diligent and conscientious hard work by the Pakatan-led government of Selangor go to waste?
Has MCA become a “bankrupt” party? Out of touch with the people and lacking in ideas and ways and means to sincerely and meaningfully work for the betterment of not just the Chinese community but Malaysians as a whole?
The latest announcement by MCA that they will hold grand dinners and propaganda speeches all over the country are just gastronomic functions that only gluttons might want to attend as Malaysians, especially the Chinese community, are wanting to solve hard pressed bread-and-butter issues facing the community and do not wish to bother with wasteful, meaningless talk and activities.
If the political tsunami of 2008 did not and has failed to serve as a wake-up call for MCA, it will not be surprising they fare even worse in the 13th General Election.
The dire signs of a Chinese community which wants out of the unfolding saga of a political party such as MCA that appears to be on a downward spiral is becoming increasingly evident in the run up to the coming general elections.