WHEN DAP’s Teresa Kok said “MCA agak sesat” (literally “MCA is rather lost”), her statement must have touched the nerve of MCA president Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong who immediately hit back in a rare display of defensive response.
While the Malay politicians are hogging the headlines on the “Dubai Move” conspiracy and other political manoeuvres, it is an irony that MCA who is now down with two MPs and often dubbed as “irrelevant” by her nemesis DAP has become the media’s focal point merely due to a remark by an insignificant DAP leader like Kok.
DAP had been labelling MCA with names more damaging and demeaning than sesat (lost) and got away with it because MCA is not known for being confrontational. It has always been MCA’s way to be subtle and diplomatic to the extent that they have lost their public optics to DAP over the years.
Responding to a passing remark by a not-so-significant DAP leader by the MCA president himself may sound petty but there’s a bigger underlying issue that must be debated or agreed upon by the Chinese community in particular.
The Chinese electorate has been trying to discard race-based politics for decades, believing that when there are no race-based parties, ethnic or identity politics will be gone as well.
This is an indirect wishful thinking of doing away with the “privileges” associated with the “Bumiputera” and a level playing field in Malaysian politics and administrations.
Marriage of convenience
Therefore, their overwhelming choice of multi-racial parties of PKR and DAP over ethnic-based parties such as Barisan Nasional (BN) and Perikatan Nasional (PN) is natural and spontaneous. However, they are not aware that the Malays are not ready to give up identity politics yet.
After successfully tearing down the UMNO-dominated race-based politics of decades and bringing down the regime that uses race as a means to enrich and empower themselves, the Chinese electorate suddenly realised that they had been politically scammed with DAP metamorphosing into MCA 2.0!
DAP’s wish to replace MCA as their new-found “lover” in UMNO became more apparent when Kok replied to Wee again by asking MCA to leave UMNO, alluding that MCA cannot deliver the Chinese votes to UMNO anymore but DAP can.
It is very obvious that DAP has realised that to be in power and to continue to be in power, they cannot run away from identity politics as the conservative Malay electorates by and large are not comfortable with the idea of an equal playing field or a Malaysian Malaysia as propounded by DAP.
After coming into power, DAP has awakened from their dreams of doing away with Bumiputera privileges or making Mandarin a second official language.
DAP also has to face the reality that they need a strong, established communal Malay party such as UMNO to counter the growing influences of PAS or PN among the Malay electorates who are beginning to show their nostalgia for the past.
Thus, Kok’s statements are akin to those of a spinster who finds a lover who is somebody’s husband showing her eagerness for the husband to choose to marry her and divorce his wife by directly asking the wife, “When are you leaving your husband now that your husband is with me?”
MCA in the wilderness
Coming back to the topic above, is MCA lost or at a crossroads?
If MCA is lost in the political wilderness, why should DAP even bother? After all, MCA is said to be irrelevant and will be another GERAKAN! The Chinese have overwhelmingly chosen DAP with more than 95% of Chinese electorate voting in favour of DAP.
The point is that DAP knows that MCA cannot survive without UMNO’s support while UMNO is no longer in a generous mood as they themselves are fighting for their own survival.
UMNO used to command the majority of the Malay electorate and could afford to pass some Malay majority seats to MCA and MIC for political window dressing. Similarly, DAP is doing their own multi-racial window dressing by putting up some Malay candidates in mixed Chinese majority seats to be seen as multiracial.
The plot is that DAP is eager to legitimise their tahaluf siyasi (political cooperation) with UMNO by making their “temporary relationship” permanent. DAP is still haunted and traumatised by their tahaluf sirasi relationship with PAS in the past.
In other words, DAP is akin to a mistress in a relationship with Umno and is eager to make their “illicit relationship” with UMNO legitimate and permanent. With MCA out of the way, they can officially marry into UMNO and secure the Malay votes which is their wanting.
DAP knows that they can be discarded or cast out in the cold at any time in a tahaluf sirasi unmarried relationship. Thus DAP, which had nearly monopolised the Chinese is not in the mood to accommodate any possible rivalry for the love and attention of their newfound partner.
MCA is indeed lost. They are in a predicament as to how to win back or capture the Chinese votes to look “pretty and attractive” again to be politically worthy and respectable.
They are also at a crossroads as to whether they will be given any “winnable” seats by UMNO or be left in the cold or scorned once UMNO formalises or marries DAP for good. Will MCA then be forced into a tahaluf siyasi relationship with PN or PAS that DAP has strategically and pre-emptively scared mongered as the “green monster”?
MCA is also at another crossroads from within. The present president’s office will end at exactly midnight on the ninth year of his chai (November 2027). Will the new deputy assume the chair smoothly without any political intrigue?
Will the “deep state” assert or dictate their control over the party? Will MCA be strong enough without Wee Ka Siong at the helm? Will the change be timely or untimely given that it is nearing a general election? – Jan 10, 2024
Senator Datuk Seri Ti Lian Ker is former MCA’s vice president.
The views expressed are solely of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Focus Malaysia.
Main pic credit: Mingguan Malaysia (Jan 7, 2024)