On the Beat | By Wong Chun Wai

Heed the advice of party elders

Youth Assembly Speaker Lim Hong Sang, who is implicated
in planning the brawl, has said that he is seeking legal advice and that the
report went too far.

The committee also recommended the reinstatement of Youth secretary-general Yew
Teong Look and vice-chairman Loh Seng Kok who were sacked at the AGM.

It is now up to the MCA leaders to decide whether they want to follow the
recommendations of the committee, which has no legal powers.

The presidential council committee, which met on Friday, endorsed the report by
15 of the 21 council members. On Dec 20, the central committee will meet to
discuss the report and is expected to approve it as well.

As in all investigations, there will be various versions and interpretations of
events but the party elders have raised several pertinent points.

They highlighted the possibility of non-delegates attending the AGM, saying
there was lack of proper control as ''non-delegates were present at the

''The Speaker admitted that he did not know whether they were non-delegates in
the assembly hall and that he could not control the event.

''Whether they were taking part in the voting or not is a question mark,'' they
concluded in their 10-page report.

The remarks are serious as there had been suspicion that non-delegates were
present at the AGM, based on pictures and videos taken by the media and party

One former state Youth chairman, well past the ceiling age of 45 imposed by the
Youth movement, was said to be seen by many observers, including the media,
inside the hall.

The presence of non-delegates itself is enough to declare the AGM null and void
although the committee did not say so.

But it might be more difficult to prove other points such as the allegations
that Ong and Lim planned the fracas. The two, quite understandably, are
unlikely to take it quietly.

It is even more difficult, perhaps unfair, to prove that Lim, a lawyer, had
expected trouble with the mere presence of four bodyguards at the hotel.

But it cannot be denied that Lim, who turned up for the hearing by the
committee, handled the meeting badly.

He may have his reasons to switch off the microphones, which stopped the
delegates from speaking, as the situation was chaotic. It could be a valid
decision based on the tense situation then.

As outsiders, we will never know the actual sentiments but based on
observations and reports, it is clear that when Yew and Loh were sacked, the
voting was put to a vote by hand.

Arguing from a procedural and constitutional point of view, the veterans have
proposed that the two be reinstated and the voting declared null and

There will be no end to the merits and demerits of the findings. The report, in
whatever form, will be looked at from a political angle that suits the
interested party.

On that, the veterans must be commended for their readiness to take up the job.
As retirees who do not need any form of controversy, they certainly do not wish
to be subject to any criticism.

More important, they have no vested interest. As such, those who criticise the
report should confine their unhappiness toward the findings and not the
integrity of these elders.

In reading the report, the MCA members, press and public may only be interested
in the more sensational part of the findings but we must not lose sight of the
sound advice given by the elders.

The veterans have correctly pointed out that if there is no discipline in the
party, there will only be anarchy and disunity, which will eventually lead to
the downfall of the MCA or loss of its prestige and integrity within Barisan

Even party president Datuk Seri Dr Ling Liong Sik has not been spared – the
elders, in fact, called for ''decisiveness in the top leadership … cannot
afford to dilly-dally any more.''

The elders also pointed out that ''the majority view of party members must
prevail and take precedence over any personal agenda, no matter what level of
leadership the disgruntled party members or group of party members may be, be
it party president, deputy president, vice-president or central committee

In the coming months leading to the party elections expected in June, more
controversy will likely arise from the feuding factions.

There will be no end to the mudslinging and accusations but the contenders must
always bear in mind that there is little point heading a divided party.

Every effort, no matter how difficult, must be made to come to a compromise.
The least they can do is to agree on the rules of the game.

It may be a war but there must be some ground rules without affecting the
integrity of the party and personalities.

In a democracy, there can be disagreements over issues but the personal lives
of the candidates must never be questioned or subject to unnecessary

The Nanyang Press Holdings issue has been accepted by the presidential council,
central committee and the delegates at the extraordinary general meeting but
has continued to be used against the leadership.

The merits and demerits of buying the two Chinese dailies is left to be debated
by the party members – if some are still dissatisfied – but they must remember
that these two dailies have become the property of the MCA. They should not
destroy what they have purchased.

It also cannot be denied that the critics of the purchase have continued to
enjoy wide coverage in the two Chinese dailies.

Similarly, any attempt to bring up the Damansara school issue is ill-advised.
The loudest complainants have been the DAP and groups linked to it.

In the name of the Chinese community, they have exploited the issue but those
who are affected the most – the parents, teachers and pupils – are happy with
their new building.

As the election fever heats up, no MCA party leaders – whether from Team A, B
or C – should attempt to become communal heroes.

As the veterans correctly pointed out, the MCA must not be led by a group or
segment of the party, be it in the educational, cultural or social

The outcome of the MCA poll may be decided by only 2,000 or so delegates but
the party, widely accepted for its politics of accommodation and moderation, is
being closely watched by all Malaysians, regardless of their ethnicity.