Ling Liong Sik’s greatest achievement as MCA President is that Dr. Mahathir is no more angry with him for going off in a huff for a six-week leave in 1988

Speech by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP fro Tanjung, Lim Kit Siang, at the National DAPSY Workshop held in Petaling Jaya on Sunday, 11th March 1990 at 9am

Ling Liong Sik’s greatest achievement as MCA President is that Dr. Mahathir is no more angry with him for going off in a huff for a six-week leave in 1988

The MCA is celebrating its 41st party anniversary today, and the MCA President, Datuk Ling Liong Sik, has cause to celebrate for what he apparently regards as his greatest achievement as MCA President – that the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Mahathir Mohamed is no more angry with him for going off in a huff a six-week leave in 1988.

In a recent Chinese New Year interview, it is clear that Datuk Dr. Ling was very euphoric that Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir was no more angry with him, and the MCA President was not bothered that he had achieved nothing in going off in a huff for a six-week leave in 1988, because of a long string of unfulfilled promises and broken pledges.

Malaysians can still remember the fierce statements made by MCA leaders and branches when holidaying overseas, how they would sink or swim with him. I have no doubt that all these MCA leaders and branches who had made such stirring and fiery speeches and statements at the end of 1988 are also in full joy that Dr. Mahathir is no more angry, although nothing has been achieved as far as the long string of unfulfilled promises and broken pledge are concerned.

MCA’s Politics of Marginalisation

This is the best example of the marginal politics indulged by MCA and its leaders, who are no more concerned about the fundamental rights and interests of the people and country, but only about peripheral questions as to whether Dr. Mahathir is angry or pleased.

No wonder when Dr. Mahathir was very angry at the end of November last year because of the threat of eight Selangor Assemblymen to collectively resign from their seats if the Selangor Government did not repeal or suitably amend Sections 67 and 70 of the Selangor Islamic Law Administration Enactment by December 15, Dr. Ling Liong Sik immediately abandoned the eight Selangor Assemblymen although he had earlier expressed full support for their collective action. This resulted in the eight Selangor MCA Assemblymen abjectly withdrawing their collective resignation letters without achieving a single thing!

It is clear that Dr. Ling Liong Sik is unsure of how to perform his duties as MCA President and the most senior MCA Cabinet member.

For instance, if the MCA 41st party anniversary is to be meaningful, he should have given a full public account of what he had achieved for his going off in a huff for a six-week leave, what issues had been resolved and promises fulfilled. I do not think Dr. Ling Liong Sik could produce any such list at all!

Only yesterday, the MCA Secretary-General and Health Minister, Datuk Ng Cheng Keat, said in Malacca that the MCA had not received any draft Bill for the amendment of the 1961 Education Act, although the Education Minister, Anwar Ibrahim, has said many times in public that the draft Bill had been circulated to component parties of the Barisan Nasional.

The Malaysian people are completely baffled. Anwar Ibrahim said the Draft Bill is with the MCA Ministers, but the MCA Ministers strongly deny this because the Chinese community are pressing the MCA Ministers to disclose details of the proposed amendments to the 1961 Education Act.

Yet the MCA Ministers dare not confront Anwar Ibrahim and say he is telling an untruth. What the MCA has done is to declare through Ng Cheng Keat in Malacca yesterday that the MCA will not comment any more on the issue whether MCA Ministers had received the Draft Education Amendment Bill!

This is again the style, action and conduct of the marginal men in politics! When faced with strong men like Dr. Mahathir or Anwar Ibrahim, always avoid joining issue, either by declaring that the MCA has decided not to make any statements on the matter, or just surrender as in the case of the Selangor Islamic Law Administration Enactment. Whatever the means, the most important thing is not to make these ‘strongmen’ in UMNO angry!

MCA Ministers losing steam in their country-wide tour of ‘adopted’ Parliamentary constituencies

This was why last week, the DAP appointed DAP MP for Bukit Bendera, Gooi Hock Seng, to ‘adopt’ the MCA Presidency, to guide and advise Dr. Ling Liong Sik how to discharge his duties as MCA President and senior Cabinet member so that there is a sense of direction, purpose and vision in everything that he does.

I thank Liong Sik for ‘adopting’ the DAP parliamentary constituencies, and the tour of all MCA Ministers, Deputy Ministers, Parliamentary Secretaries to every DAP parliamentary constituency, starting with Kampar last Sunday and the second stop in Kota Melaka two days ago.

Howeve, I cannot help noticing that the MCA Minister, Deputy Ministers and Parliamentary Secretaries are losing steam and more and more of them are dropping out of the visits to the ‘adopted’ DAP Parliamentary constituencies, although they have only done two stops.

Of course, the MCA Ministers, Deputy Ministers and Parliamentary Secretaries should release by now that their collective arrival anywhere is no great deal and could not create any impact at all.

Liong Sik came back empty-handed from his six-week leave and had to spend the next sixty weeks to make Mahathir happy

The public cannot be so easily fooled when they know that Liong Sik came back empty-handed after his six-week leave, and had to spend the next sixty weeks making Dr. Mahathir happy!

The MCA President should impose greater discipline among the MCA Ministers, Deputy Ministers and parliamentary Secretaries ensure that they all participate in such tours.

Clearly, the MCA President is not being ably assisted by his Deputy President, Lee Kim Sai, who is now content that he is a Datuk again! The DAP will consider appointing another DAP leader to ‘adopt’ the MCA Deputy Presidency, to guide and motivate Lee Kim Sai to carry out his duties to assist Liong Sik. I think Sdr. Lau Dak Kee, the DAP MP for Pasir Pinji, will be a suitable person to ‘adopt’ the MCA Deputy Presidency!

In 19 Constituencies, MCA polled less than 30 per cent of Chinese votes

The MCA has not learnt from the lessons of the 1986 general elections, when the MCA President and the MCA Deputy President had to go to constituencies where the Chinese voters and less than 50 per cent of the total electorate.

Datuk Dr. Ling Liong Sik, for instance, ran away from Bagan parliamentary constituency in Penang where the Chinese voters represented 62.5 per cent of the electorate to Labis in Johore which has only about 46 per cent rural Chinese voters.

And by the MCA’s own studies, in these constituencies where the Chinese voters are less than 50 per cent of the total electorate, both the MCA President and Deputy President could not win the support of the majority of the Chinese voters who voted in the Labis and Hulu Langat constituencies.

According to a high-level secret study conducted by the MCA after the last general elections, out of 32 Parliamentary constituencies contested, it got less than 10 per cent of the Chinese votes in two constituencies, namely Bukit Bintang and Kota Melaka, less than 20 per cent of the Chinese votes in another three constituencies, namely Puchong, Petaling Jaya and Bakri; less than 30 per cent of the Chinese voters in a further 14 constituencies, namely Seputeh, Pasir Pinji, Lumut, Seremban, Bagan, Batu Gajah, Sungei Besi, Bukit Mertajam, Rasah, Kampar, Kluang, Bayan Baru, Hulu Langat and Ipoh; and less than 40 per cent of the Chinese votes in another seven constituencies, namely Senai, Kelang, Raub, Selandar, Pontian, Alor Setar and Gopeng.

In other words, in 19 of the seats contested by MCA, it polled less than 30 per cent of the Chinese votes cast; and in 26 out of 32 parliamentary constituencies it contested, the MCA got less than 40 per cent of the Chinese votes cast.

MCA’s post-mortem into 1986 general elections defeats

This top-level secret post-mortem by the MCA on the 1986 general elections gave the following five main reasons for its poor general elections showing:

“ (1) Anti-Establishment sentiments: There is a general anti-establishment mood prevailing across the whole country. This has resulted in strong protest votes by the urban voters who are more inclined to vote against establishment candidates. The strong anti-establishment sentiment arose from frustrations and disappointments over the implementation of the New Economic Policy, perceived discrimination in education and employment opportunities and the general reaction against perceived arrogance of power.

“(2) Economic Recession: The prolonged economic recession resulting in increased retrenchments and business failures further add to the anti-establishment mood of the people. While a booming economy can mitigate the negative effects of the NEP, in a declining economy, competition is more intense and sharpens the focus of anti-establishment voters who feel deprived and alienated.
MCA wants more Malay voters to help its candidates to win

“(3) Constituency Delineation: Some preliminary investigations highlight that the constituency delineation has stacked the cards against the MCA. Instead of having more mixed constituencies, the last constituency delineation exercise resulted in several urban Chinese voters. If the constituencies have been more mixed, the MCA will have a better chance. For example, Lembah Pantai which has 57% Malays can have 3% – 4% Malays added to Sungei Besi and Bayan Baru which has 25% Malays could perhaps have increased its Malay share to about 27% to 28% taking in 2% – 3% more from Balik Pulau which has 56% Malays.

“(4) Internal Weaknesses: An objective analysis of the elections cannot deny the existence of some internal weaknesses. These could be attributable to various factors such as:

(a) wrong choice of candidates in certain areas.
(b) factionalism and factional conflicts.
(c) internal sabotaging
(d) poor grassroot organization in some areas.

“(5) Party crisis: In general, it can also be inferred that by and large, the community has not fully appreciated that sincerity and effectiveness of the new MCA leadership for the scars of the 20-month long party crisis has not fully settled.”

The MCA high-level secret post-mortem on the 1986 general elections had not been fully honest, for it the government had not covered up the $1.6 billion co-operative finance scandal until an week after the August 1986 general elections, all the MCA candidates would probably have lost, including all the MCA Ministers, Deputy Ministers and Parliamentary Secretaries, for causing untold sufferings and hardships to the 600,000 innocent depositors.

In actual fact, all the 17 MCA Parliamentary candidates who won in the 1986 general elections were elected on false pretences, for they had hidden from the voters the co-operative finance scandal. If the co-operative finance scandal had become public a few months before the general elections, and not suppressed by the government, it would have been resolved with an immediate dollar-for-dollar pay-back to the depositors because of the general elections.

In this sense, it was again the MCA which had been responsible for depriving the 600,000 co-operative depositors an opportunity for a full government bail-out 1986 itself. This will be one of the issues for which the MCA must be judged in the next general elections.