Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Can Ong Ka Ting resurrect MCA?

Former MCA president Ong Ka Ting may see his comeback as a chance to stitch together a party that is in tatters, but observers are sceptical as to whether he is the right person for the job.

ong ka ting interview 140408 05They point to history arguing that, during Ka Ting's (left) six-year tenure at the top, the party had "abandoned politics" and over-emphasised educational and welfare activities.

This approach had led the party to its worst-ever results in the March 2008 general election and, eventually, to Ka Ting's departure because of pressure from disgruntled grassroots leaders and members.

Phoon Wing Keong, a political research officer at the New Era College, said that major activities implemented under Ka Ting's leadership were non-political, such as promoting lifelong learning and use of Di Zi Gui, an ancient book based on the teachings of Confucius.

"In term of politics, these were empty, irrelevant and hypocritical. Chinese voters could not see any boldness in political reform and those activities did not go down well with them," he said when contacted.

In addition, Ka Ting's arbitrary move to promote his 'boys' had intensified the infighting.

This has led Phoon to believe that even if Ka Ting is elected as president, it will not help MCA to woo back ebbing Chinese support.

'Political involution'

Political commentator Tang Ah Chai pointed out that Ka Ting's regime was characterised by media manipulation and infiltration of Chinese guilds and associations.

bukit koman forum 230609 tang ah chai @ chen ya caiHe shared the view that under Ka Ting's leadership, MCA had shrugged off its role and responsibilities as a political party.

"He turned MCA into the nation's biggest Chinese association," said Tang (left) in a phone interview.

The fact that some members want Ka Ting to return is revealing of yet another crisis faced by the 61-year-old party.

"This shows that currently there is no frontline leader who can fulfil the hopes and expectations of supporters," said Phoon, describing the phenomenon as 'political involution'.

"MCA is in such a mess that it is unable to shake off old habits and can only repeat old mistakes. It has lost its ability to reform and progress."

After a seven-month power struggle involving party president Ong Tee Keat, his deputy Dr Chua Soi Lek and vice-president Liow Tiong Lai, two-thirds of the central committee members resigned to pave the way for fresh polls on March 28.

Tee Keat will defend his presidency, while Chua is also expected to throw his hat into the ring when nominations are filed on March 22.

courtesy of Malaysiakini

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