Why has Mahathir imposed the three-term limit for MCA President as one of the three-point solution for MCA A and B power struggle when UMNO itself is not prepared to consider the proposal?

Media Statement
by Lim Kit Siang

(PenangWednesday):  UMNO Vice President Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak said in Kangar yesterday at the one-day Perlis UMNO state convention themed “Thinkings of Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad” that UMNO has no intention to consider the three-term limit for the post of party president which is proposed for MCA.  He said UMNO would not emulate MCA as there is no such need for UMNO to do so. (Nanyang Siang Pau) 

The question that immediately comes to mind is why the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, who is also President of both UMNO and Barisan Nasional, had imposed the three-term limit for MCA President as one of the three-point solution for the MCA A and B power struggle when UMNO itself is not prepared to even consider such a proposal? 

The other two points for the solution of the MCA power struggle impressed on Datuk Seri Ong Ka Ting and Datuk Chan Kong Choy by Mahathir when the Prime Minister met them on May 22 and informed them that they would take over as MCA President and Deputy President from Datuk Seri Ling Liong Sik and Datuk Lim Ah Lek  following the latter’s joint and simultaneous resignations were (i) resolution of the MCA phantom membership controversy and (ii) joint decision on the MCA candidatures for the next general election. 

Last Friday, New Straits Times reported that the newly-elected MCA president Ong Ka Ting is tipped to be the next Transport Minister while Chan Kong Choy will likely be made Housing and Local Government Minister on the ground that the Transport Minister’s post is the most senior Cabinet post for MCA and Chan is too junior to take up the Transport portfolio. 

Why should the Transport Minister be regarded as the most senior MCA Cabinet post which could only be held by the MCA President?  

In his speech at a students’ leadership seminar at the Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia in Bangi yesterday, Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi called for the dismantling of the “quota” mentality when he told Malay students to start preparing themselves for the “real world” which runs on meritocracy. 

He said: “Many of you gained entry into public universities because you were given a ‘tongkat’ by the Government through the quota system. You must realize that you will not be able to hold on to this ‘tongkat’ forever.” 

The dismantling of the “quota mentality” must start from the highest level, including the political “quotas” in the Cabinet. 

In the first place, why should MCA be confined to a quota of four Ministers, with the post of Transport Minister as the “glass ceiling” for their most important Cabinet portfolio? 

In the 1999 general election, UMNO had to depend for the first time on the other Barisan Nasional component parties, particularly MCA’s 28 MPs,   to bring in the Parliamentary seats to secure the  two-thirds parliamentary majority, which should have  justified its  claim to have an additional Minister, two Deputy Ministers and three Parliamentary Secretaries.   

But MCA  got nothing.  It even suffered the humiliation of the MCA Youth leader being appointed Deputy Minister to the UMNO Youth Leader as Minister for Youth and Sports, when they should be co-equals as UMNO Youth and MCA Youth leaders respectively. 

In the early decades of Malaysian Independence, MCA Ministers occupied truly senior Cabinet positions as Finance and Industry Ministers. 

If the “quota mentality” among the young generation of Malaysians is to be dismantled, the “political quota” in Cabinet, both in numerical term and the reservation of the “junior posts” for the MCA should also be eliminated. 

Is Mahathir prepared to start the process of such dismantling of the  political “quota mentality” in his Cabinet reshuffle this month?


* Lim Kit Siang, DAP National Chairman