Wednesday, March 24, 2010

MCA tussle's wider implications

Out of the many self-inflicted ills that plague Malaysia, corruption and political monopoly rank among the most crippling ones. They feed on each other.

I have repeatedly stressed elsewhere that no real and meaningful improvement will occur in our society unless and until these two evils (at least) have been exorcised. I strongly advocate the immediate end to political monopoly and the birth of a two-party system in Malaysia.

bribe and corruption malaysiaFor an effective two-party system to work, there has to be two (and not just one) credible and non-corrupt parties (or coalitions of parties) that will compete with each other in obtaining the people's representations.

The two parties (or coalitions of parties) must, over a period of time, be both capable and worthy of coming into power (at different times) via a genuinely democratic process. This setting has so far been absent in Malaysia, which explains its deepening troubles.

Hence, while I obviously promote the immediate uprooting of political monopoly, in the long run I wish to witness the emergence of not just one but two parties (or coalitions of parties) of high integrity, and that are both worthy of Malaysians' trust.

No figurehead politics

A progressive democracy cannot rely on individual leaders who are touted or known to be trustworthy; because firstly human weaknesses never entirely take leave, and secondly such individuals (even if they remain upright throughout their lives) will not last forever.

It is the structures and institutions of a society that must be properly built, strengthened and constantly reinforced. Otherwise we will run the risk of substituting one tyrant for another at some point in time.

mca anniversary dinner ong with party membersLooking from this perspective, the current MCA internal tussle is important not just to MCA members, but to all Malaysians (and not merely to the Malaysian Chinese).

MCA has for decades claimed to be championing the rights and interests of Malaysian Chinese. But its support from the Chinese themselves has dwindled to an embarrassing level. That, however, is not at all difficult to understand. Malaysians know that it is an "equal partner" in the BN only in name. In reality, it is subservient and dominated.

MCA's internal tussle for the past year is certainly unhelpful to its attempt at regaining some amount of credibility and trust. Thus, the current batch of delegates has a job tougher and more significant than that of any previous batches.

They are the ones who will likely be determining whether MCA will fizzle out from the political scene, or gradually re-invent its relevance.

Their votes, while internal in nature, are therefore important not just to MCA, but also to Malaysians who believe in the long-run necessity of a two-party system. It is hoped that they will abandon old bad habits, and this time around vote in the interest of all Malaysians (and not just in their own respective vested interests internally).

This, in my view, is the only way to start the slow process of reviving MCA's relevance, for the sake of the people at large. Doing anything else will be like voting to decide which part of the ship should sink first before the rest inevitably follows.

Hope for MCA's future

I believe (and hope) that out of the more than 2,000 delegates, there will be a sizeable number of persons who can and will look beyond vested personal interests.
mca fresh poll ong ka ting lunch 220310 03To my mind, voting for all Malaysians, and at the same time voting for MCA's future, would include the following considerations:

(a) Reject all forms of money politics. Do not vote for anyone who dishes out cash, other benefits, or promises of personal benefits in return for votes.

(b) Reject one who is known to be corrupt, or who has a history of self-enrichment.

(c) Choose one who is relatively least over-occupied with attaining or clinging-on for dear life to a position at all costs; and one who is prepared to give up a high position when it is right to do so.

(d) Choose one who is relatively more able to reject continuing subordination in the BN; one who is the least beholden to current UMNO leaders.

(e) Choose one who has the least reason to fear being quietly held at ransom (for one thing or another) by the authorities.

The MCA delegates must make their choices not for themselves, not just for their party, but for all Malaysians.

I further dream of a future Malaysia in which political parties (among other things) will no longer be based on racial or religious lines; but I know that this will take a much longer time to materialise, and that it will only become possible after we have gotten rid of numerous other sicknesses in the Malaysian society, truly one step at a time.

comments by YEO YANG POH, a senior lawyer, is a former chairperson of the Bar Council. Courtesy of Malaysiakini

No comments: