Speech by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjung, Lim Kit Siang, at the DAP Wanita ‘International Women’s Day’ reception held at Hotel Malaysia, Penang on Sunday, 14th March 1993 at 3 p.m.
MCA has launched the Langkawi project because MCA Ministers, MPs and Assemblymen are worried about re-election in the next general elections as they have lost confidence in the ability of UMNO to muster Malay votes for them as a result of the constitutional crisis
The MCA leadership has given very high-sounding and noble objectives for its Langkawi Plan and has very cunningly hidden its ulterior political purpose.
The MCA President, Datuk Dr. Ling Liong Sik, said that the MCA’s Langkawi Plan to raise $20 million from the public was aimed at uplifting the standard of education in new villages and other less developed rural areas.
In actual fact, the MCA Langkawi project was hatched because of the constitutional crisis over the Rulers’ immunity as the MCA national leaders are worried that UMNQ had lost considerable Malay ground in the rural areas.
As a result, the MCA Ministers, MPs and Assemblymen are worried about their re-election as they have also lost confidence in the ability of UMNO to muster the Malay votes which had been crucial for their being elected into Parliament or the State Assemblies in the past.
Although the MCA leaders continue to claim to represent the five million Malaysian Chinese, they know that their claim is spurious and illegitimate, as illustrated by the results of the 1990 general elections where the MCA received only 20 to 25 per cent of the support of the Chinese voters in the country.
It is open secret which no MCA leader would dare to contra¬dict and known by UMNO as well, that if not for UMNO mustering Malay votes for MCA candidates, the MCA would not only be wiped out of the Penang State Assembly, but in most State Assemblies and even in Parliament as well.
This is why although the MCA claims to represent the Malaysian Chinese, MCA national leaders compete with each other to get ‘safe’ seats with huge rural areas where Chinese voters are minimal and the percentage of Malay voters as high as possible.
This was precisely the reason why the MCA President, Datuk Dr. Ling Liong Sik, had run away from the Penang parliamentary seat of Bagan (formerly Mata Kuching) to the Labis parliamentary in Johore.
MCA leaders are fully aware that if UMNO is not able to muster its bank of Malay votes to come to the support of the MCA candidates in general elections, then the MCA leaders would be in big trouble.
If there was only a 20 per cent swing in such Malay voter support in the 1990 general elections, Liong Sik as well as the majority of the MCA Ministers, MPs and Assemblymen would have been defeated.
There is therefore good reason for the MCA leaders to be worried about their own survival in Cabinet, Parliament and the State Assemblies as a result of the constitutional crisis over the Rulers’ immunity.
Although the MCA leaders have publicly expressed full support and confidence in UMNO in the constitutional crisis over the Rulers’s immunity, there is no doubt that in their private meetings, they are very concerned that UMNO’s political power base in the rural areas had been undermined, to the extent that UMNO would not be able to muster its bank of Malay votes to the rescue of MCA candidates in the rural areas in the next general elections.
It is in this context of MCA loss of confidence in the ability of the UMNO to marshal its bank of Malay votes to bail out MCA parliamentary and state assembly candidates in the next general elec-tions that the Langkawi Project was conceived and born.
This is also why after 44 years of its existence and de¬spite having a Deputy Education Minister, the MCA leadership has only woken up to the problem of educational backwardness of the rural schools, and why the MCA is only interested in kicking off the Langkawi Project in the constituencies of its MPs and State Assemblymen.
MCA Ministers should ask for RM200 million from the RMl billion which government would save from withdrawal of privileges to Rulers to be used specially for lifting educational standards of rural schools
If $20 million which MCA wanted to raise from the public for the Langkawi Project could resolve the problem of educational backwardness of the rural children, then such a problem would never have existed today as every year the Government spends many times this amount for the schools in the rural areas.
In fact, if the MCA Ministers are serious about their government duties and responsibilities, they should ask the Cabinet to set aside at least twenty per cent from the RM1 billion which the government would save annually from the withdrawal of privileges to Rulers not laid down in the law for the uplifting of educational standards of the rural schools.
If the Government is not prepared to set aside RM200 million from the RM1 billion it would save annually from the withdrawal of privileges to Rulers not provided for under the law, then the Government and the MCA Ministers cannot be serious about low educational standards in the rural areas and the MCA’s Langkawi Plan is nothing but a political gimmick to save the skin of the MCA leaders who would be contesting in the rural areas.