On the Beat | By Wong Chun Wai

Let the healing begin

The support for the MCA has been eroded because of the
fight. However, the DAP is not gaining any mileage simply because the Chinese
community is peeved with its brand of politics.

The MCA leaders cannot preach the importance of unity, at community or
grassroots level, if they are incapable of maintaining unity themselves.

The peace formula must thus be given a chance to work. It is not a question of
whether Team A or Team B won – the winner must be the MCA.

Party leaders, especially at division level, may not fully welcome the ''status
quo'' formula, but sacrifices have to be made for peace, stability and unity in

The larger picture is important as preparations are being made for the next
general election, speculated to run before the full five-year term in

The top leaders from both sides must now go on a nationwide road show to face
the wrath of the grassroots and to explain why the peace plan is

On Tuesday, MCA president Datuk Seri Dr Ling Liong Sik said all MCA leaders at
the division, state and national levels would remain in their posts until the
next party elections in 2005.

He said there would be no contest in MCA's 166 division elections. The same situation
will apply at state, Youth, Wanita and national levels.

Urging the grassroots to work towards the no-contest arrangement, he said the
central committee unanimously adopted the decision.

Over the past few weeks, behind-the-scene negotiations were carried out by,
among others, Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, the aides
of the Prime Minister and businessman Tan Sri Lim Kok Wing.

As with all negotiations, there were bumpy moments but the final result has
been achieved – the MCA leadership crisis has come to an end.

Dr Mahathir and Abdullah have played a crucial role in ensuring that the final
touches were agreeable to all to ensure that the peace agenda is

It is now important for the respective MCA leaders to explain the significance
of the peace plan. There will be grudges and glitches, no doubt, but these are
minor problems that can be sorted out.

There will be cases like the eight Youth leaders who have passed the age limit
of 45 years old, and whether exceptions should be made to these cases.
Representatives from both sides can sit down to resolve such internal

Then there will be some divisions where the incumbent may have lost his right
to keep his post because he may have lost his branch post, but these are

The majority of the 166 divisions would probably remain the same with the
status quo formula. The central committee members, irrespective of which
faction they represent, will keep their positions for the next three

Dr Ling remains as president and Datuk Lim Ah Lek is still his deputy. The four
vice-presidents – Datuk Dr Fong Chan Onn, Datuk Seri Ong Ka Ting, Datuk Chua
Jui Meng and Datuk Chan Kong Choy – keep their positions.

These are talented leaders and if one were to look at the real issues behind
the leadership crisis, there is really nothing substantial in the first

There should be no witchhunt and sincere efforts must be made to ensure that
the spirit of the peace agenda is worked out. As Abdullah said, let bygones by

As with all families, there will be times when quarrels break out among the
members but they need to come to their senses and compromise.

It has been said that we can choose our friends but never our relatives.
Whatever their differences, MCA leaders must work things out even after harsh
words have been exchanged.

The media can also play its role by not pitting one MCA leader against another.
Instead, let the healing process work in the interest of the Chinese community
and the nation.

As MCA leaders regain their composure and sieve through the countless rumours
being circulated, they should set their sights and resources on ensuring the
success of its projects – the setting up of Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman and
the expansion of Tunku Abdul Rahman College.

More importantly, both sides must keep in mind that thoughtless words can wound
as deeply as any sword but wisely spoken words can heal.

To compromise is not a sign of weakness but of strength and maturity. No MCA
leader should feel ashamed to give peace a chance.