4:14pm 05/11/2020
Chinese community should not be a ‘political orphan’

By Kuik Cheng Kang, Sin Chew Daily

The Malaysian politics can be summed up with one word after the collapse of the Pakatan Harapan government: chaos.

The Malay society is divided, and there isn't a leader who can take up and accomplish the "Malay grand unity" mission.

That said, the "state of emergency" which many see as the last chance for the struggling Perikatan Nasional government, has not only given PM Muhyiddin at least four months of respite, but may even open up new opportunities of cooperation towards the seemingly impossible "Malay grand unity".

Under the pressure from the royalty, this week's parliamentary sittings have seen an obvious absence of political power-wrestling activities. If every lawmaker hearkens to His Majesty's advice, the 2021 Budget to be tabled tomorrow will be smoothly tabled and adopted in Dewan Rakyat, and Muhyiddin can rest assured a no-confidence motion will not be tabled against him soon, so that all parties can come together in unity to fight the virus and revitalize our anemic economy. As for when a general election will be called, it is learned that this will happen when the daily new infection numbers are maintained stably at single digit, or latest by next February or March.

Those Muslim brothers who have been fighting among themselves for the past so many months, will have to obediently take the advice of His Majesty even if they are reluctant to do so.

Politically speaking, the Malay society today is highly fluid: a sworn enemy today can be a bedfellow tomorrow. You may argue they are fighting for their personal gains, but back to the center of power, they are doing this for bumi and Malay privileges.

Looking back at the local Chinese community from the "political truce" of the Malays, Sin Chew Daily columnist Jeff Ooi recently did an incisive article to highlight the crisis of the Malaysian Chinese community. He was worried the Chinese community would be marginalized to become an "orphan" in the country's mainstream politics.

A foreign diplomat who just arrived in this country lately asked me whether I supported MCA or DAP.

I replied, "I will support a representative who dutifully serves and is concerned about the Chinese community."

In the last general election, the Chinese community here saw the largest numbers of parliamentary and state representatives in the government since the country's independence, but that did not translate into improved political clout. Today, DAP being the party with the largest number of seats, is completely alienated from the country's mainstream politics.

Thanks to Tun Mahathir's 22-year rule when Umno was in power, DAP is today stigmatized in the Malay society. If not addressed, such intercommunity confrontation is going to spell a major disaster for this country.

Unfortunately, during its two years in Putrajaya, DAP failed to reverse the party's stereotyped impression among the Malays.

In order to go further from here, it is utterly essential for the party's leaders to humbly listen to the kind words of advice as well as criticisms from the people, trying to make more friends instead of foes.

Imagine, a bloodless coup d'état has managed to turn the party into a "political orphan" overnight.

Cruel as it looks, at least it shows how important good relations are.

GPS of Sarawak has openly declared that the alliance can work with any party, except DAP. The same goes for Umno: anyone but Anwar or DAP. Meanwhile, PKR leaders are unhappy that DAP while being a component of PH, is sentimentally more attached to Tun Mahathir.

If the party had built better relations with other parties, given its political strength (the largest party in the Parliament with 42 seats), it should be good enough to turn the tide as the kingmaker.

Chinese Malaysians are at a disadvantage where racial make-up is concerned, and the gap in our population ratio with other ethnic groups, in particular the Malays, is widening each year. Our future in this country depends very much on whether we ourselves are eager to jump onto the bandwagon.

Some feel completely indifferent whether there is any Chinese representation in the new Sabah state cabinet. They yell in frustration: We don't need any Chinese representation in the government. Even if we have a couple of them in the federal government, so what? They're still betraying the community!

How much more right do we have to lose before we will get to wake up from such "betrayal" preoccupation?

We thought we could see happier days ahead by putting all our eggs in one basket. We are instantly banished from the center of power when Malay politicians on both sides of the divide start to embrace one another.

Often it is too late for us to undo any damage when we realize all of a sudden that our 100% bumi government is about to implement a policy perceived to be eroding the right of the local Chinese community.

DAP was in a best position to fight for the community's rights with Mahathir during their two years sitting in Putrajaya, but they failed us.

Their Malaysian Malaysia ideal will never get far so long as it is not endorsed by the Malays!

Historically DAP, together with MCA and the Chinese language media form a solid trinity in the Malaysian Chinese community.

In the past, MCA was fighting hard within the government to defend the right of the community, while DAP was applying constant pressure from without and the Chinese media played the role of community mouthpiece. Together, they somehow managed to defend the community's right such that we could still have our Chinese education. But, such relationship suddenly changed when MCA was in the opposition and DAP in the government.

We must never take all that we have today for granted, including our Chinese names, Chinese education, listening to Chinese songs over state radio stations, performing dragon dances, having Chinese characters on the billboards and getting admitted into local universities, among other things.

When we lose our right, all that we are enjoying now may no longer be the same, or be abruptly taken away from us.

For example, after we have lost the housing and local government ministerial post, allocations for Chinese new villages and other perks have been reduced.

Perhaps not many people will remember the life we used to go through together during those years, and even if they do, few will care.

The Malaysian Chinese community has seen their rights in steady decline after the last two general elections, but many are still immersed in their "feel good" euphoria and still indulge in tossing curses in social media.

MCA needs to find a new way if it wishes to stand up again after successive humiliating defeats. They need to convince Chinese Malaysians that they are different now. They cannot keep hoping to win some Chinese support from DAP's missteps. No matter how rotten DAP gets, many still fail to convince themselves that they should vote for MCA in the next election.

This is a cruel reality MCA needs to come to terms with.

Other than MCA and DAP, we have yet to see whether some of the post-Anwar multiracial new generation leaders in PKR will insist in their call for diversity and reverse our race-based, theocratic politics.

In the meantime, we cannot afford to let our guard down on PAS, whose ulterior motive is to establish an Islamic state run on theocratic principles. They are not rushing in to seize more power now, but are patiently waiting to harvest from our insane fights.

During that year the party worked with DAP, it even attempted to entice the Chinese votes under the guise of "welfare state".

Umno and PAS are convinced that their "Muafakat Nasional" will win them unparalleled support in mainstream Malay society. If MCA, now sharing the same roof as PAS, fails to secure the support of the local Chinese community, it will not get to stand the insurmountable challenges that come its way soon.

Struggling for survival between the giants, it is now time for Chinese Malaysians to come to terms with the political reality.

Many have hoped for more options, but few are available at this moment unfortunately. You've got to pick either MCA or DAP.

Before a third alternative is made available to us, we must make these two predominantly Chinese parties which represent our interests equally powerful, counteracting, competing and outperforming each other. Otherwise, we may end up with nothing when our basketful of eggs drop on the floor.

The Malaysian Chinese community should not put all their eggs in the same basket, lest we become the "political orphan" in the words of Jeff Ooi.

It is utterly dangerous to believe that we "do not need to be in the government".

I feel the chill down my spine each time I think of the growingly entrenched misunderstandings and prejudices the Malay society has against us.

This country is in dire need of new energy and new courage for Malaysians from different ethnic backgrounds to unload our historical burdens and miseries. Otherwise, the same bunch of people will bring us back to square one even if we get to elect a new government right now.



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