Is Tan Cheng Lock rolling in his grave that the MCA President’s post has been degraded to fighting for equal ranking with the UMNO Youth leader in the Barisan Nasional?

Media Statement
by Lim Kit Siang

(Ipoh,  Wednesday)I have been following an exchange on the soc.culture Malaysia newsgroup on the Internet over the  “silence” and “cowardice” of the MCA leadership in failing to speak up against the “929 Declaration” of the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad at the Gerakan national assembly on September 29 last year declaring that Malaysia is an Islamic state.  

In response to a post that there was no need for the MCA, Gerakan and MIC to apologise for their failure to speak up against the “929 Declaration”, there was the  retort that if it was true that the MCA, Gerakan and MIC leaders really agreed with Mahathir’s declaration that Malaysia is an Islamic state, they “should speak up and let their supporters know. As it is, they have cowardly kept quiet and shamelessly said nothing.”  

The poster ended with the remark: “Tan Cheng Lock would roll in his grave if any MCA leader dares to say he agreed with Tunku for the Federation of Malaya to be an Islamic State.” 

It is now equally pertinent to ask whether Tun  Tan Cheng Lock  is rolling in his grave that the MCA President’s post has been degraded to fighting for equal ranking with the UMNO Youth leader in the Barisan Nasional in the past few days.

The Barisan Nasional, as successor to Alliance, was supposed to be  a coalition of equals - but this had always been  a myth.  When Alliance was formed in the 1950s, UMNO's position in the coalition was described as primus inter pares - or first among equals. This may have described the relationship between Tengku Abdul Rahman and Tun Tan Cheng Lock, but UMNO's position in the Barisan Nasional is best described as primus tanpa pares - first with no equals.  (With the rampant corruption of Malay by  the English language, one can be forgiven for corrupting Latin with Malay for a change).  

The latest Hishamuddin Hussein Onn -Ling Liong Sik spat is the best example of the total change of character of the power relationships and equation  between UMNO and the other component parties in the Barisan Nasional after more than  four decades of Alliance-Barisan Nasional "coalition" building.  

Already reduced to a political party whose party constitution is utterely irrelevant and subservient to the directives of the leader of another party, the MCA President is now struggling to maintain a position of equals with the UMNO Youth leader!  

The Hishammuddin-Liong Sik spat is the first time in the 47-year history of UMNO-MCA relations that  the UMNO Youth leader had publicly lambasted the MCA President for being "arrogant" and  "insensitive" in   "making sweeping statements", "souring relations between UMNO Youth and MCA" and "should be more responsible" – followed up with the Deputy Prime Minister and UMNO Deputy President, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi “directing” Liong Sik and Hishammuddin to meet and resolve their differences. (“Abdullah arah Hishammuddin,Ling Liong Sik bersemuka” Utusan Malaysia front-page headline 11.6.02).

It t is simply unthinkable that the MCA Youth leader would ever dare, or even dare to entertain the idea,  of doing what the UMNO Youth had done - to  publicly lambast the UMNO President in a threatening tone for being "arrogant" and "insensitive"  for "making sweeping statements", accusing him of "souring relations" between MCA Youth and UMNO  and lecturing him to "be more responsible", followed by  the MCA President telling the UMNO President and the  MCA Youth leader  to “meet and resolve their differences”.

What is even more unthinkable here is that in the Hishammuddin-Liong Sik spat, the MCA Youth leader do not support the MCA President but is more on the side of the UMNO Youth leader!

The degradation of the position of the MCA President to the level of the UMNO Youth leader must make Tan Cheng Lock roll  in his grave!  

The transformation of UMNO's role in the ruling coalition from primus inter pares to primus tanpa pares is evident everywhere, including  Penang, where an UMNO Division Chairman is more powerful than the Gerakan Chief Minister, who could not respond to the demands of the people of Penang for a review of the RM1.2 billion Penang Outer Ring Road (PORR) project, simply because the project had been privatised, against international best practices of good urban governance and public integrity, to an UMNO division chairman in the state!  


*Lim Kit Siang - DAP National Chairman