On the Beat | By Wong Chun Wai

Ong sets out to rebuild a relevant MCA

He will not nominate himself for a Cabinet post or any government post. It’s a gracious move and he has demonstrated that leaders should always be prepared to take the rap.

Ong, who was elected as the Kulai MP, has also said this would be his last general election, a pledge that he made when he became the party president where he limited the term of a party president to nine years.

He has also come out clean – the Malaysian Voice has spoken loud and clear.

It did not just come from the Chinese or Indian voters but the Malays as well.

The reasons for the big losses by the Barisan are clear and Ong has rightly made his move by focusing on rebuilding the party and to make it stay relevant.

It is understood that four names would be submitted to Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi for him to consider for Cabinet positions – vice-president Datuk Ong Tee Keat, secretary-general Datuk Ong Ka Chuan, Wanita chief Datuk Dr Ng Yen Yen and Youth chief Datuk Liow Tiong Lai.

Ka Chuan, who was elected as the MP for Tanjung Malim, has served for four terms as a state executive councillor in Perak, is reportedly tipped to be the Housing and Local Government Minister.

Tee Keat, who was the Deputy Higher Education Minister, is said to be proposed as the Transport Minister, the former post of deputy president Datuk Seri Chan Kong Choy.

For the first time in MCA history, both the president and deputy president are not holding Cabinet posts. In fact, Chan did not contest the general election.

Another vice-president Datuk Seri Dr Fong Chan Onn, who was re-elected, is said to be staying out of the Cabinet to allow the rejuvenation process.

The talk is that Dr Ng would be Health Minister. Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek, who was Health Minister, quit his party and government positions early this year. He was a party vice-president.

Liow, certainly a rising star in the MCA, could possibly be the Human Resources Minister.

It is a ministry that he is familiar with as he served as a political secretary under Tan Sri Lim Ah Lek, who then held the minister’s post.

With the party required to hold its elections within three months, the MCA would now go through a difficult time.

The blame game has already started.

The salvoes have already been fired with former party secretary-general Tan Sri Ting Chew Peh and veteran Datuk Yap Pian Hon reportedly blaming the party’s rejuvenation strategy for the party’s dismal showing.

But Dr Chua has rejected such argument, saying the Opposition had many new candidates and yet made a big sweep of seats, saying it was the “lack of addressing fresh issues that caused the debacle.”

The next three months would be crucial for the MCA leadership.

Ka Ting and others would have to make efforts to boost the morale of the members, who would still be in the process of healing from the wounds of the election defeats and at the same time, attempt to ensure the contest for party polls would not get out of hand.

It would be a trying time. Caught up in the euphoria of the anti-establishment sentiments, the Chinese voters were not convinced by the good work of the MCA in education. It was not good enough as they sought to punish the Barisan.

A fight in the MCA would be the last thing the party needs to win over the Chinese voters, particularly when communal politics would now be seen differently.

It would be more important for members to stabilise the party, examine its approaches at a time when political parties chose the path of multi-racialism to win the young voters.

And as one academician puts it, do leaders of “BC” – before computers – have a place in politics in comparison to younger leaders of “AD”- audio-digital who see issues from a different perspective.

Changing leaders is one thing but changing the politics of the MCA may be more urgent in the coming years.