We grow on criticisms and suggestions

By Chong Sin Woon

Looking back at history, the 2008 political tsunami train has departed from the platform for almost 13 years now. Even though MCA successfully boarded the Feb 26 "Sheraton" train last year, ridicules and curses have continued to be hurled at the party without a break.

Some have abandoned us, others continue to criticize as they care, while most simply don't give it a heed.

After reading the article "A Malaysian wish list for MCA" by Prof Tajuddin Rasdi, I have gained a brand new insight into inspecting the country's overall political situation at the moment.

Prof Tajuddin has made three proposals for MCA: to send our next line of leadership to study Malay and Islamic civilization; for open-minded Malay intellectuals to "adopt" future MCA candidates; and to use TARUC as a springboard for the new Malaysia and new Malay-Chinese relationship.

Aside from the three proposals, the entire article suggests a tendency to get MCA to deliver itself out of its self-professed race-based party to engage Malay academics, lest if falls backs to its six-decade political fatigue, offering a new hope for the Chinese as well as all peace-loving Malaysians.

I would like to express my utmost appreciation to Prof Tajuddin for his constructive criticisms and proposals.

As a matter of fact, after MCA once again became a component of the ruling coalition since last February, and after my appointment as the party's secretary-general almost a year and a half ago, I have kept discussing tirelessly about my thoughts on MCA's transformation and future with friends from within MCA, other coalition partner parties and even non-partisan friends.

This has been done with the hope MCA can liberate itself from the conventional mindset of a Chinese party to construct a bridge of communication between different communities of this country, and act as that needle head which hooks up different communities, parties and organizations, as we fend off budding racism and religious extremism.

I do share something in common with Prof Tajuddin. We both agree that a new future for Malaysia must be led by some changes to this tired formula of existing race-based political parties.

As I have suggested earlier, instituting such cross-party selfless reforms could cost us more than a term of electoral results, and could likely spark frustration among the grassroots. Nevertheless, this will also put to test the resolve and determination of a party's leaders.

I wouldn't say MCA is embarking on an ambitious grand design but we do hope we can at least turn the tide around in the Year of the Ox. In view of this, we at MCA humbly accept every well-intentioned suggestion, even a negative one, as this will constantly remind us not to repeat a past blunder.

We will never be the first, nor the only, or the last, to take such a seven-decade-old party out of perennial gloom.

(Datuk Chong Sin Woon is MCA secretary-general and former Deputy Education Minister of Malaysia.)



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