These two unprecedented appointment by Mahathir in his 20 years as Prime Minister are the result of two factors: firstly, the belated realisation by Mahathir that the Barisan Nasional Government had alienated large sections of the Chinese community in the 18 months after the November 1999 general elections and the urgent need to woo Chinese voter support because of their crucial role in the 2004 general election; and secondly, the belated realisation that the MCA leadership in Cabinet and government are not the legitimate representatives of the Malaysian Chinese community and cannot even read correctly their basic aspirations, as reflected in the controversies over the Vision School concept, Suqiu, the Damansara Chinese primary school and fair university admissions policy for SPM and STPM high-scorers.
Now, the MCA President, Datuk Seri Dr. Ling Liong Sik is poised to make his biggest blunder as the MCA leader in the past 15 years and to plunge the Barisan Nasional leadership to the most serious level of alienation of the Chinese community with its high-handed and arrogant proposal to take over the Nanyang Press Holdings Bhd. and two Chinese national dailies, the Nanyang Siang Pau and China Press.
The MCA takeover of Nanyang Siang Pao and China Press would be a double catastrophe - a national catastrophe against a free and independent press, human rights and democracy as well as a catastrophe to the Chinese community in general and Chinese mother tongue education in particular in shutting out the voices of the Malaysian Chinese in the country to be given fair and due consideration in the highest decision-making councils of government.
As the MCA President, Datuk Seri Dr. Ling Liong Sik had given the impression both to his dissenters both inside MCA as well as outside that he had received the “green light” from the Prime Minister, Mahathir should ensure that he gets a true and correct picture of the thinking and feelings of the Chinese community on this issue from a proper “direct feedback”.
He should instruct Liong Sik to suspend the MCA takeover of Nanyang Siang Pau and China Press for one month to allow his two new Chinese special aides to submit a report to him on the overwhelming objection and opposition of the Chinese community to such a takeover - or he would have to pay an even higher political price than what happened in the past 18 months.
I have no doubt that if his two new Chinese special aides are given an opportunity to get direct feedback from the Chinese community, they would report to him the powerful adverse reactions of the Chinese community to the Barisan Nasional if the MCA takeover of Nanyang Siang Pau and China Press is allowed to proceed to completion, which would exceed that of all the controversies over Suqiu, Vision School, Damansara Chinese primary school and university admissions for SPM and STPM top-scorers added together.
Liong Sik had said that there would be no political interference with Nanyang Siang Pau and China Press after the MCA takeover, but if he expects Malaysians to believe him, he must have very little respect for the intelligence of the people in the country.
Liong Sik could not have used a worst example when he cited the Star as the model of a MCA-owned “professional” Chinese newspaper, as it would be a great tragedy if Nanyang Siang Pao and China Press degenerate to become like the Star after a MCA takeover.
Everybody knows that the MCA does not respect the independence, professionalism and integrity of the good journalists in the Star and this is why the Star is not recognised as a free, independent, responsible and professional newspaper.
In the last three days, the greatest concern of the Chinese community was the statement by the Education Minister, Tan Sri Musa Mohamad on the extension of the 55:45 bumiputra quota to private institutions of higher learning (IPTS).
Star imposed political self-censorship in “blacking out” Musa’s statement on Friday’s paper, and in the last two days, “blacked out” strong adverse reactions of the Chinese community to the proposal to impose the quota on IPTS as “turning the clock back” in national development and nation-building.
But there was not a word in the Star in the past three days on the furore in the Chinese community over Musa’s suggestion of the extension of the 55:45 quota on IPTS.
If such a high-degree of self-censorship is required to be exercised by the Nanyang Siang Pau and China Press after MCA take-over, they would be completely unrecognizable from the present Nanyang Siang Pau and China Press!
The last thing the Chinese community and those concerned about mother-tongue
education want is to allow the Nanyang Siang Pao and China Press to lose
their comparative freedom and independence and become a Chinese Star, for
the biggest losers will be the Chinese community and Chinese education.