(Ipoh, Friday): The MCA decision to hold a national economic crisis forum in Ipoh this Sunday is most welcome, for it is always better late than never.
MCA, which won 30 parliamentary and 71 State assembly seats in the 1995 general elections, should provide leadership by example to help restore confidence as the essential first step to address the national economic crisis.
With the national economic crisis entering its seventh month, and with the next six months likely to the most painful and difficult period of the economic crisis when people from all walks of life would be feeling its real bite, all political parties, whether ruling or opposition, should be explaining the crisis to the people and lay the basis where the government, society and people can respond as one unit to tide the country through the economic crisis in the shortest time possible with the minimum of avoidable hardship, pain and suffering to the people.
Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, in his capacity as UMNO Deputy President, has called on UMNO leaders at all levels to go down to the ground to explain the economic crisis and the steps being taken for an economic recovery.
In Perak, the MCA has seven MPs and 13 State Assemblymen but it has not held any public meetings on the national economic crisis to explain the economic crisis to the people. In contrast, the DAP in Perak which has only one MP and one state assemblyman, has already held ten national economic crisis forums/ceramahs/dialogues and many are being planned after the Qongxi Raya season.
As the MCA is in the Cabinet and the National Economic Action Council (NEAC), the MCA leaders should provide leadership in at least two areas:
Firstly, to set an example on steps that could be taken to help the country through the economic crisis, as responding to the call by the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad to Malaysians to sell their properties in countries where currencies are higher than the ringgit and keep the funds in local banks to increase the country's foreign reserves.
The MCA leadership should take up the Prime Ministerís call and announce that all MCA Ministers , Deputy Ministers, Parliamentary Secretaries, State Excos, MPs and Assemblymen would sell their properties overseas and bring back the foreign proceeds to keep them in local banks to increase the country's foreign reserves.
To set an example to all Malaysians, MCA leaders should announce that all MCA Ministers, Deputy Ministers, Parliamentary Secretaries, State Excos, MPs and Assemblymen would make a public declaration within two weeks of their overseas properties and the deadline line set for the sale and the bringing home of these foreign proceeds.
Secondly, to reflect and convey the wishes and concerns of the people in the Cabinet and the NEAC, as for instance, in asking that the Malaysian government withdraw the US$1billion aid each to Indonesia and Thailand as part of the IMF bail-outs of these two countries.
Mahathir had rightly said that "When we are poor, we have to act like poor people" and Malaysia cannot afford giving US$2 billion aid (which comes to RM9 billion at the rate of US$1=RM4.5 at the close of trading yesterday) to other countries when we are ourselves facing an acute financial crisis.