The issue is not whether Ong Ka Ting is a seasoned politician but whether MCA under its ninth president marked its “worst slide and lowest point” of political marginalization in Barisan Nasional/Alliance coalition in 46 years since Merdeka with the MCA President given the most light-weight Cabinet post
by Lim Kit Siang
(Petaling Jaya, Tuesday): The New Straits Times today in a report headlined “Ong no sticker for protocol, prefers humble approach” ended with the following paragraph:
I had never said anything or insinuated that Ong Ka Ting is not a “seasoned politician”. He is undoubtedly a very seasoned politician as he could respond to matters never raised while evading the real issues.
As far as I am concerned, the issue is not whether Ong is a seasoned politician but whether MCA under its ninth president marked its “worst slide and lowest point” of political marginalization in Barisan Nasional/Alliance coalition in 46 years since Merdeka with the MCA President given the most light-weight Cabinet post.
I have still to hear from Ong on this critique. The post of Minister of Housing and Local Government had always been the most junior of the four MCA Cabinet posts, but it has now been elevated to be the Cabinet post befitting the MCA President! Its significance is no different for instance, if the MIC President is made the Minister for Youth and Sports or the Gerakan President is made Minister for National Unity and Social Development.
Secondly, I had commented that there were those who had thought that the important role played by the Chinese voters in the 1999 general election to ensure that the Barisan Nasional retained its two-thirds parliamentary majority would be reflected by more important Cabinet posts assigned to the MCA President, breaking the “glass ceiling” in the past three decades that the Transport Minister is the highest Cabinet position which could be given to the MCA President. Now, a new precedent has been set, that there are even more junior Cabinet positions which could be allocated to the MCA President. What is Ong’s response.
Thirdly, 46 years after Merdeka, when even MCA leaders should be thinking of themselves as leaders of 23 million Malaysians, isn’t it tragic that the new MCA President has narrowed his vision from a leader of five million Chinese in Malaysia to be a leader of the Chinese new villagers in the 452 new villages in the country – as if to do a Lim Keng Yaik in 1971 when the latter was appointed MCA Minister without Portfolio with special responsibilities for the new villages?
Fourthly, Ong denied that he is leading a delegation of “major” Chinese organization leaders to meet with the Defence Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak on 4th July to reflect the views of the Chinese community on the issue of the national service. This must again be the “mistake” of the “uncrowned kings” in the Chinese press, as it was prominently reported by all the Chinese newspapers.
Ong now claimed that on July 4 he would brief the “major” Chinese organization leaders on the national service, which will be followed by a dialogue with Najib.
Although Ong has explained away the ignominy of being the first Cabinet Minister in 46 years to lead a public delegation to make representations to another Cabinet Minister, he failed to answer why such a briefing was not held before the National Service Training Bill was passed by the Dewan Rakyat last Wednesday!
I was surprised to read the report in the New Straits Times that Ong was accused of “degrading his newly-earned stature” as head of MCA for his presence during the joint opening of the UMNO Youth, Wanita and Puteri assemblies, as other component parties were only represented by their Youth and Wanita leaders.
Ong’s explanation that he wanted to listen personally to the opening address by the Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi should be accepted at its face value, although Ong might have overlooked the fact that Abdullah’s speech was telecast live and he could have listened to it at home.
Ong’s presence at the joint opening of the UMNO Youth, Wanita and Puteri assemblies is not pertinent to the issue of whether MCA has suffered its “worst slide and lowest point” of political marginalization in Barisan Nasional/Alliance coalition in 46 years since Merdeka.
At the UMNO General Assembly, when asked whether UMNO’s party constitution would be amended to limit the party president’s tenure, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad said “UMNO code of ethics is sufficient to decide how long the president can stay on”. Other UMNO national leaders have also made it clear that UMNO has no intention to consider any term limit for the top party post as in MCA.
The question that immediately comes to mind is why the MCA leadership under Ong accepted the three-term limit for MCA president as one of the three-point formula to resolve the MCA A and B power struggle imposed by Mahathir, when UMNO itself is not prepared to consider such a proposal?
* Lim Kit Siang, DAP National Chairman