The Barisan Nasional (BN) can go farther if the coalition’s 13 components fused into a single party for the next general elections, Wanita MCA chief Datuk Heng Seai Kie said.
Heng offered this alternative of direct BN membership for all after her party’s Youth wing suggested opening up MCA’s membership to non-Chinese.
“Now as BN, as we have 13 component parties, actually it covers everyone, there is no way for anybody to criticise BN as sidelining any groups, any races, because all the races are represented by our component parties… So if Umno still exists as Umno, MIC still exists as MIC, then why should MCA alone make changes?
“If we want to transform ourselves, then there should be a comprehensive [change]. Everybody, all 13 become one. There is no Umno, there is no MCA, there is no MIC,” she told Malay Mail Online when contacted yesterday for comment on the Youth wing’s proposal for the party ahead of general elections due by 2018.
The inclusive approach of opening up BN membership to everyone would address criticism regarding race-based parties within the coalition such as MCA and MIC, she said.
“This is how I really feel. If we want to make transformation, it’s one BN, if talking about wanting to remove the race factor, segregation about race, so if want to transform to make a change, then let it be a real change, let it be the way it should be and let it not be limited to certain parties.”
But even Heng admitted that it would not be an easy decision for the 13 BN components to arrive at.
Taking MCA forward
As for allowing non-Chinese Malaysians join MCA, she said it was not the right time to make such changes as the party’s constitution would have to be amended through the collective decision of all party members.
“Because we know very well next year onwards, anytime we are going to face the general elections, it’s better for us to find an easier way,” she said.
To her, the “easier way” would be for MCA to form a “supporters’ club” for the non-Chinese.
Opening up MCA to non-Chinese members would also change its “unique identity” which the Malay-based Umno and Indian-based MIC also have due to a shared legacy that can be traced back to their formation before the independence of then-Malaya, she said.
But whether or not MCA actually opens up its membership to non-Chinese would not make much of a difference to the party she added.
She pointed out that MCA has always upheld the 1Malaysia spirit by working within BN to ensure that no one would be sidelined and by offering services to all regardless of race and religion.
MCA deputy president Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong said the party represents the Chinese community, but asserted that it is “not a communal party that fights for one community” alone as it was formed with the understanding that all races should work together.
He cited MCA founder Tun Tan Cheng Lock’s call for the party to fight for all Malayans, and said this philosophy has seen the party achieve a balance with Umno and MIC to form the Alliance Front — as the BN predecessor was called — for a harmonious society.
“We rule as a party. Therefore we don’t contest under the MCA flag alone. We carry the BN ticket to contest, so people fail to understand,” he said when explaining the different interpretations by others on MCA as a party based on its membership and also BN as a party.
Stressing that MCA has always been a party that fights for all Malaysians, Wee said the party is still able to play its role under the larger BN umbrella to rule the country and formulate policies based on universal values instead of based on race factors.
“Before independence we need to look after the Chinese in Malaya, so since then we have carried out this duty for the past 67 years, so now if you want to change the structure of the party, you need to go for referendum in the party, that has been enshrined in our party constitution,” he added.
When asked if he thought it was time for MCA to have non-Chinese membership, Wee said such matters require a collective decision by all party members and is not up to a single individual.
“You cannot simply dictate for the party if you think this proposal is good,” he said.
Status quo in MCA’s membership structure does not mean the party cannot work with other races or extend services to the non-Chinese, Wee said.
He added that MCA has worked with the non-Chinese community in activities but there is room for more engagement.
Setting up a non-Chinese supporters’ club for MCA would not require any changes to the party constitution and can be studied by the MCA central committee itself, Wee said.
“Under the party constitution, there’s no provision to stop us from engaging the non-Chinese either formally or informally.
“If any central committee member wants to bring this up, we can have further deliberation in central committee meetings,” he said.
MCA central committee member Datuk Ti Lian Ker similarly pointed out that MCA was then formed to safeguard the Chinese community’s interest, saying that it is now timely to carry out transformations to fulfil the public’s aspiration of stepping away from the communal approach of the past.
“Means there is a need to water down the racial or communal element of any party and to do so it is only natural to allow participation of other communities, so it’s a step towards the right direction to cultivate more multiracial approach in policies and political representation.
“It’s a good time to explore because ultimately the political survival of parties will depend on Malaysians, because we no longer go along with racial lines when it comes to seeking for votes, we shall not be confined to a particular community or race,” he told Malay Mail Online when contacted yesterday.
“There’s a need to have a more multiracial approach, it’s a good time to take any step in that direction in any form, whether supporters’ club or direct membership, that needs to be studied and that also needs approval of members,” he said when commenting on MCA, having also noted that changes should be gradual as they may otherwise be counterproductive.
MCA Youth chief Datuk Chong Sin Woon last month said the youth wing is drafting proposals for changes in the party’s constitution to allow for non-Chinese affiliate members, with the proposed amendments to be raised in the AGM that will be held on November 12 and 13.
He said affiliate membership was the first step to pave the way for his party members to accept Malaysians of other ethnicities to full membership, as there is still a long way to go to convince MCA delegates to do so.
On Friday, MCA secretary-general Datuk Seri Ong Ka Chuan said the party’s constitution only allows Malaysians of Chinese descent — including those where only one of their parents is a Chinese — to be members, with a referendum required to change this rule.
Source : IDA LIM@The Malay Mail Online