On the Beat | By Wong Chun Wai

Facing challenges together

The speech had to be different from those delivered by
the rest of the Barisan Nasional component parties, which had already held
their general assemblies.

But more importantly, it had to be substantive, refreshing and

It could not be one in which the party leader makes another demand for
rhetoric's sake.

While the MCA represented the Chinese community, the youthful MCA president
wanted to stress one point – the "Rakyat Malaysia" spirit must be nurtured and

He wanted Malaysians to draw on their common strengths and not harp on their

With countries becoming more competitive in the age of globalisation, it was
crucial for Malaysians, regardless of race, to pool their strengths together to
compete with others and not with each other.

Abdullah struck the same chord in his opening speech.

Malaysian companies owned by different communities, he said, should come
together and form competitive consortia to tap the huge business potential

These words came from two like-minded leaders who understood clearly the
economic impact Malaysians can make when they combine their talents and

"Rakyat Malaysia," as Ong correctly pointed out, was not a new political

It was not something idealistic, good only for discussions at university

Instead, it was a reality that already existed.

The spirit of "Rakyat Malaysia," demonstrated by all of us so many times and in
so many ways, shows what we already are because we love Malaysia.

It is not a flag-waving exercise but an instinctive feeling.

Tying in with being competitive, Ong also spoke about lifelong learning, a
campaign launched just two days before the party's annual general assembly on

Drawing on the support of the party and the private sector, Ong hoped to open
up community centres, company meeting rooms and lecture halls of private
colleges for short- and medium-term courses.

The idea is simple – make it easy for Malaysians from all races and educational
backgrounds to learn a new skill or language.

It could be as simple as attending a series of lectures on personal

It is an ambitious project but once it takes off it would benefit the country
in the long run.

From teaching homemakers how to use computers to helping others take up a
business management course after work, the MCA plan would surely be

Serious in wanting to make the campaign truly non-racial and non-political, MCA
leaders have insisted that the campaign logo, which symbolised the country's
three main races, must not have any hint of a party link.

To make sure the MCA delegates understood what the party's plan was about, one
resolution tabled and passed at the assembly was that the Chinese community
must respond to the challenges of globalisation which would open Malaysia to
worldwide competition in all fields.

The message was clear – the competition is not between Ahmad, Ah Chong and
Muthu but from a powerful combination of foreigners waiting at our shores.
Let's join hands to face them as a team.