Viagra can’t fix MCA

MCA Viarga (English)

Najib’s embarrassing “Viagra prescription” has made MCA a laughing stock, but it highlights an important underlying revelation: that the BN model is a failing model.

Arguably, MCA has ceased to be the champion for the Chinese community after 1986. I will develop the idea further but first, an instructive look at its formation.

Founded in 1949, MCA is a local product of the international Cold War. In 1948 the British colonial government declared a state of Emergency as part of its war against the Malayan Communist Party (MCP). In actual fact, one could regard this period of history as our Malaysian “civil war”, except that the British would not label it as such for fear of skyrocketing insurance premium that would drive its empire bankrupt.

The British encouraged the establishment of the merchant-majority MCA in order to cut off the MCP from its core supporters among the Chinese poor. Tasked as a welfare group, MCA helped the relocated Chinese New Villagers—mostly Chinese poor—through lottery fundraising. By confining the rural Chinese peasants in new settlements, the British successfully severed MCP’s logistics supply.

Using the new villages as its base, the party built up support. Over the past few decades, the central and state MCA have been led by merchants, while teachers form the grassroots. On the other hand, UMNO central leadership has been occupied by Malay bureaucrats while state leaders and grassroots are mostly teachers.

After the second world war, Malaya’s population grew dramatically. In 1969, the baby boomers found themselves lacking education and employment opportunities. The Malay kampungs and Chinese New Villages alike struggled to keep up with the population boom. What followed was the May 13 racial riots and UMNO’s solution of urbanisation and industrialisation to provide jobs and scholarships for middle and low class Malays.

Compared to its counterpart UMNO, MCA faces a stronger challenge from opposition parties owing to the earlier pace of urbanisation among the Chinese.

How MCA lost the Chinese’ trust

In response to the New Economic Policy, MCA relied on grassroots’ capital -raised under the banner of “Chinese self-help” – in order to finance its investment and co-operative scheme in 1970s. One of the prominent investment leaders was none other then MCA president Tan Koon Swan, dubbed “saviour of the Chinese”.

The 1985 economic crisis forced most of the MCA-related enterprises and co-operatives into insolvency, as they were heavily invested in the property market and stock market. Many MCA leaders were jailed for breach of trust and since then, MCA has failed to regain the trust of the Chinese community.

MCA’s victories in the 1995, 1999 and 2004 general elections have little to do with the party’s strength. The Chinese community threw their support behind MCA in 1995 due to Mahathir’s liberal Vision 2020 policy. In 1999, it was the shadow of the Indonesian anti-Chinese riots that struck fear as Chinese cast their ballots. In 2004, it was the fresh face of Abdullah that touched their hearts.

Najib seems oblivious to this part of history. Here are two other things that he fails to realise. One, that urbanisation has lessened voters reliance on the ruling government. Two, MCA’s election performances after 1986 had little to do with MCA, but was directly related to UMNO’s policies and strategies. I dare say, neither Najib’s Viagra nor Wee Ka Siong’s 100 plus could do much for MCA, now.

Share this article
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on whatsapp
Share on email

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Related Articles

Four major challenges confronting us

I attended the Progressive Alliance conference titled “Asia’s Social Democratic New Deal for Peace, Democracy, Recovery, Sustainability” in KL over the weekend. The conference was officiated by DAP Secretary-General Sdr…
Read More

Rental Housing

This morning, I asked a supplementary question in the Johor State Assembly to the EXCO for Housing and Local Government Dato’ Haji Mohd Jafni bin Md Shukor on the question…
Read More