MCA’s ‘One Step Forward, Two Step Backward’ and ‘Two steps Backward, One Step Forward’ Strategy

Speech by DAP Secretary-General and Member of Parliament for Bandar Melaka, Mr. Lim Kit Siang, at the DAP Selangor Solidarity Dinner at Mak Yee Restaurant, Jalan Pasar Baru, Pudu on Thursday, 30th November 1972 at 9 p.m.

MCA’s ‘One Step Forward, Two Step Backward’ and ‘Two steps Backward, One Step Forward’ Strategy

MCA leaders are using the impending coalition between UMNO and Partai Islam as a new argument for their call for a ‘mental revolution’ among the Chinese and for Chinese Unity.

They argue that as the Malays in UMNO and Partai Islam are joining forces, the Chinese in Malaysia must also unite together.

This is of course not the first time, nor will it be the last time, that the MCA has called for Chinese unity under the MCA. It is worth observing that a Chinese unity under the MCA can have one of two objectives: one, to fight for the rights and interests of the Malaysian Chinese; or two, to unite and sell out to the rights and interests of the Malaysian Chinese.

One-Step Backward, Two steps Forward

In political and human struggles, it is sometimes necessary to take ‘one step backward’ so that we can later take ‘two step forward’ to advance towards our goals. The net result is progress.

The MCA, however, has become the past master in the art of going backwards camouflaged as progress. They do this by using either the ‘Two Steps Backward, One Step Forward” or ‘One Step Forward, Two Steps Backwards’ strategy to draw wool over the people’s eyes.
MCA’s Two Steps Backward, One Step-Forward stunt

I will give a few instances of the operation of the MCA’s Two Steps Backward, One Step Forward strategy, to give the people the illusion of advance, when there is actually retreat.

1. Signboards: In Maran, Pahang, recently, the shopkeepers were told that they were not allowed to use Chinese signboards. The MCA made some noise, and later claimed great victory because the Maran shopkeepers were permitted to use the Chinese language in some corner position.

The one-step forward, after a two-step backwards, is hailed as a great victory for the MCA and the people – when the net result is one step backward. In the first instance, this problem should never have arisen, but the MCA has become the past masters of representing themselves as advancing when actually falling backwards.

2. Abolition of Boards of Governors and Managements: – Another good example is the 1972 Education (Amendment) Act abolishing the Boards of Governors and Managements in all schools, especially Chinese schools. Having taken two steps backwards, the MCA again claimed great victory when it took half steps forwards in seeking Ministry agreement to retain the old name of the Board, although it has lost all its powers of hire and fire and schools management. Again, a net retreat is represented as a great advance.

3. Merdeka University: The Merdeka University issue provides another good example. As the foremost opponent of the Merdeka University project, the MCA came out with a poor substitute in the form of a Tunku Abdul Rahman College. Here again, it represented a great victory after ‘Two Steps Backwards, One Step Forward.’

One Step Forward, Two Step Backward

A variation of the general MCA strategy of retreating whole camouflaging it as an advance is ‘One Step Forward, Two Steps Backward;

1. Malaysianisation of Chinese Script – Recently, in pursuit of the MCA’s Mental Revolution, the MCA Vice President, Tan Sri Lee Siok Yew, called for the Malaysianisation of the Chinese script. He alleged that the Chinese ‘four square’ scripts was the culprit for mass illiteracy and that the Malaysianisation of the Chinese script would (i) enable the English-educated Chinese who hope to retain the leadership of MCA to learn Chinese and thus promote Chinese unity; and (ii) facilitate the learning of Chinese by non-Chinese, leading to Malaysian unity.
Superficially, this seems to be quite an attractive argument, and to be a ‘One Step Forward’. Deeper consideration, however, reveals that this step must quickly be followed by ‘Two Step Backward’, for such a proposal, however implemented, must lead to the extinction of the Chinese language. Whatever emerges from the Malaysianisation of the Chinese language is surely not Chinese language. To save all such bother, it would be simpler just to abolish the Chinese language and just learn Bahasa Malaysia wholesale. It is worth nothing that there had never, to my knowledge, been any talk Sinicising of Malay or English for the benefit of the Chinese-speaking Malaysians.

2. Revaluation of Malacca assessments: Another recent example of the MCA’s ‘One step Forward, Two Step Backward strategy is provide by the revaluation of the Malacca houses by the Malacca Municipal Commissioner, Datuk Tan Cheng Swee – MCA leader in Malacca. He announced at a press conference on November 16 that the MCA-run Malacca Municipality had taken into consideration the hardships of the Malacca people and had decided to reduce the assessment rates from 35% to 23%.
The people, not only in Malacca, but also throughout Malaysia were pleasantly surprised by the uncommon generosity of the MCA leaders, This, however, was a deception, for Datuk Tan Chong Swee did not mention that while the assessment rates had fallen from 35% to 23%, the valuation of the properties had shot up, ranging from 100 to 1,000 per cent. The net result is great hardships were imposed on the poor and low-income bracket tenants, who face increase in rentals by 200 to 300 per cent.

3. Chinese Unity under MCA: To be included in this category is the unending call for Chinese unity under MCA to collectively take ‘One Step Forward, and Two Steps Backwards’ as shown in the last 15 years, and last year, in the aborted MCA-sponsored Chinese Unity Movement.
Refusal to be taken in MCA’s deceptions

To call, therefore, for the Chinese to unite under the MCA in response to the coming together of the UMNO and PAS is therefore not a solution to the long-standing problems of nation building in Malaysia.

The first condition to prevent further deterioration in the situation is that the people must refuse to be taken in by the MCA’s deceptions and be able to expose the ‘One Step Forward, Two Steps Backward’ and ‘Two Steps Backward, One Step Forward’ trickeries which present retreats as advances and failure as successes.

It is only then that we can get down to the second stage of concerting the people’s energies and efforts for a common objective.