On Malaysian Chinese, Political Crossroads, And Getting It Right

Ti Lian Ker is a Malaysian politician and lawyer. He prefers to be a political worker and not a player.

Part 1 by Ti Lian Ker

The Alliance and subsequently the Barisan Nasional (BN) formula was the magic political formula for a multi-ethnic and multi-religious people to co-exist – power sharing, mutual respect, and every ethnic represented at one or another level of government. An equilibrium and a balance of power among the coalition parties enabled every ethnic group in the country to have a voice in determining the course of the nation.

MCA as the second largest component party in BN was playing the role of the moderator and also internal check and balance at a time where race and religion came into the fore of national politics. MCA has to thread carefully at a time when the Malays were politically united on race and religion, even though they were politically divided between PAS and UMNO.

That changed in mid-2000 when the opposition parties, particularly DAP, began a calculated and aggressive campaign to lead many voters, especially the Chinese community, to believe that Bumiputera policies in Malaysia could be abolished in the name of an equal or level-playing field. DAP’s narratives are to blame the Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA) for all the frustrations felt by the Chinese community. They hyped up their “victim syndrome” and conveniently blame the failure to defend the rights of the Chinese community in Malaysia on MCA for being in the government. They even coined MCA into “Make Chinese Angry” to incite, arouse and provoke anger and hatred towards MCA.

The Fall Of Barisan Nasional

The shift in the political landscape and voter behaviour beginning from the 2008 general elections eventually led to the fall of the Barisan Nasional control of the Malaysian federal government in 2018. In fact, DAP had formed an earlier coalition with PAS in the 10th general election in 1999 in the name of Barisan Alternatif (Alternative Front), but the cooperation was not well-accepted by their supporters resulting in the loss and rejection of two of their leaders, Lim Kit Siang and Karpal Singh, who were ousted from their respective parliamentary constituencies in Tanjung and Jelutong.

Lim Guan Eng Willing to Work with Anyone Except for Mca

Subsequently, they were quietly and insidiously working together before coming to the fore in the name of Pakatan Rakyat, only after their strong comeback and victories in the 12th general election in 2008. MCA was one of the biggest casualties of that defeat as the party was made out to be playing second fiddle in BN and the voters were promised that DAP would do better if it is in government.

Eventually DAP succeeded to be one of the biggest party winners in the 14th general election when Pakatan Harapan formed the government. With 42 MPs against the Prime Minister’s 13 Members of Parliament, the DAP had subsequently proven that they were much weaker and a bigger let down then MCA to the Chinese when Lim Guan Eng announced that he was not a Chinese and allowed Tun Mahathir Mohamed to renegade on their election promises. Instead of moving forward, Pakatan government regressed and DAP allowed Mahathir to return to a Malay-centric government for which MCA was criticised and demonised.

Worsening Racial Political Landscape

Thereafter, DAP had temporarily occupied the highest number of parliamentary seats, but the racial political landscape was the same, if not worsen. DAP had two more Ministers in the name of Kulasegaran and Gobind Singh in the Cabinet in addition to their restricted four Chinese Ministers. By then, DAP had forgotten that it was the Chinese community that gave them the greatest support and it stopped its racially-toned, “Chinese champions” narratives once in government.

In all the years in opposition, DAP had mocked MCA for being weak and unable to enhance the political influence of the Chinese community in the country. Despite having had the biggest number of MPs, DAP dared not seek the position of Deputy Prime Minister. Even worse in the state of Perak, DAP had to give way to Parti Bersatu Bumiputera Malaysia (PPBM) for the position of Menteri Besar in spite of DAP having its own Malay State Assemblyman (ADUN) and constitutional expert, Abdul Aziz Bari, who was initially speculated to take the position. That was the second time DAP played second fiddle to a party with one ADUN – the first time being in 2008 when it surrendered the position of Menteri Besar to PAS’s Mohd Nizar Jamaluddin.

In actual fact, that is the level playing field DAP had promised the Chinese voters and successfully “cheated” 90% of their votes. How long will this lie last? – New Malaysia Herald.

Read Part 2 tomorrow: The Rise Of Extremism.

The views expressed here are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect those of New Malaysia Herald

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