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6/9 MCA boycott Gerakan - MGG Pillai
By web aNtu

18/12/1999 5:18 am Sat

Subject: Where Boycott Means Serving The People

The National Front political crisis in Penang is over, says the MCA President, Dato' Seri Ling Liong Sik. Unable to control the ground anger at his shilly-shallying over who should be chief minister, he has ordered his members to shut up, after allowing his rottweilers to gnash their teeth at its coalition partner, Gerakan. But, as usual, the Chinese community did not think through its plan, making it, as usual, an easy target for the dominant National Front partner, UMNO, to neutralise. When two Gerakan state a#semblymen resigned from the party shortly after the general elections last month, the Gerakan, which with UMNO, had ten seats to the MCA's nine, the MCA went in for the kill. With more seats than Gerakan, it insisted it wanted its candidate to be chief minister. A fair enough proposal, until it justified its demand by pointing to numbers. UMNO, which stayed out of this conflict, then suggested that the post be rotated, like in Sabah until that c##keyed scheme was scrapped by the present administration, reality struck in. UMNO, with the majority of seats with the certainty of MIC support, clearly, by this definition, should then provide the chief minister. The Chinese community lost ground further. The MCA was denied every demand, the Gerakan chief minister, Tan Sri Koh Tsu Koon, reappointed on UMNO's grace. Neither the MCA nor the Gerakan can lift its head in confidence in Penang or elsewhere.

The MCA's churlish behaviour when six of its nine state a#semblymen boycotted the swearing-in of Dr Koh and his state executive councillors is inexcusable. Even if the MCA chief in Penang and its candidate to succeed Dr Koh, Dato' Sak Cheng Lum, insisted it was not. They knew about the swearing in, he said unctiously, "but coincidentally they happen to be tied up with their schedule". Remember, he wanred, it is "not a protest or boycott". Why? "MCA members have ccepted our presidential council's decision to toe the Barisan Nasional line despite our request for greater responsibility and request in the state." Which, of course, they proved by boycotting the function. Besides, "they might have taken seriously my directive to serve the people well," he added. In simple words, he has been read the Riot Act by the MCA in Kuala Lumpur, and the six state a#semblymen clearly disagreed with this. Is sulking an acceptable form of serving the people, Dato' Sak?

Need this political crisis have arisen? Coffee shop talk in Penang insist the two Gerakan state a#semblymen -- an architect and a lawyer -- is part of a plot within a plot. The "dark force" the Gerakan president, Dato' Seri Lim Kheng Yaik, alluded to when the two state a#semblymen resigned, is the immediate past chief minister, Tun Lim Chong Eu. The two forces within Gerakan -- one of former members of Tun Lim's United Democratic Party which he led into Gerakan when it was formed in 1968, and latter-day joiners like Dr Lim and Dr Koh -- are now irrevocably split. Into this comes a crony businessmen, close to Tun Lim, whose allegedly provided the financial sinews to ensure this in return for much-needed permission to rape the environment. The MCA and the Gerakan co-exist in Penang as a snake and a mongoose would, a perfect foil for UMNO to keep them on their toes. UMNO cannot take on the leadership in Penang without a Chinese backlash, so it wends its will behind the scenes. This is made easier with the antipathy between the Chinese parties.

But this crisis came on the false premise that ma#sive Chinese support towards the National Front, which the Prime Minister himself acknowledges, gave the MCA and the Gerakan to behave like naughty schoolboys. Unfortunately, for the two parties, it is power and what it brings, not service, that is uppermost in their minds. But both by their unwise confrontation ensured they would both lose power. Which probably is why the six MCA state a#semblymen have decided that service the people now is more important than the swearing-in of their state administration. But did Tun Lim Chong Eu and Dr Ling get their wish? No. The two state a#semblymen, one of whom is Tun Lim's son, resigned from Gerakan in vain, which only devalued Chinese politics in Penang. The Chinese community, by coutesy of the MCA and Gerakan, shot themselves in the foot yet again.

M.G.G. Pillai