Ong Ka Ting’s heresy that Housing and Local Government suitable, respectable and honourable Cabinet post for MCA President is strongest proof of MCA’s worst political marginalization in Barisan Nasional/Alliance coalition in 46 years since Merdeka in 1957
by Lim Kit Siang
(Petaling Jaya, Thursday): The weak clarification by the MCA President, Datuk Seri Ong Ka Ting that he had himself chosen to stay put as Housing and Local Government Minister has only confirmed that the MCA is currently at its worst political marginalization in the Barisan Nasional/Alliance coalition with the MCA President occupying the most light-weight Cabinet post in 46 years since Merdeka in 1957.
I don’t think Ong himself expects many MCA members, let alone the Chinese community and the Malaysian people, to believe his clarification as this was not his first response when the mini Cabinet reshuffle was announced by the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad on Tuesday.
If Ong’s claim is true, that he had asked Mahathir to let him remain in the Housing and Local Government portfolio, this would have been his first public explanation for the mini-MCA Cabinet reshuffle following the resignation of Datuk Seri Ling Liong Sik.
But this was not the case. His first response was a very non-committal one that MCA representatives had been given “good opportunities” to take up “suitable portfolios” in the Cabinet, leaving to “Party insiders” to proffer a completely different explanation for the mini-MCA Cabinet reshuffle in the New Straits Times, viz: “Reluctance to rock the boat, given the fragile peace in MCA”.
Similarly, Ong’s request to the Prime Minister to remain as Housing and Local Government Minister would have been the first public explanation by the MCA Deputy President, Datuk Chan Kong Choy on the mini-MCA Cabinet reshuffle, but all he said was that “All Cabinet portfolios are important and there is nothing to say that one is more important than the other”. (The Star 25.6.03)
Ong only came out with the claim that he had asked Mahathir to let him remain in the Housing and Local Government portfolio after he found that he had to respond to the observation that Tuesday’s mini-MCA Cabinet reshuffle consequent to Liong Sik’s resignation as MCA President marked the worst slide and lowest point of MCA political marginalization in the Barisan Nasional/Alliance coalition – with the most light-weight Cabinet post for the MCA President in 46 years since Merdeka in 1957, as the post of Minister of Housing and Local Government had always been the most junior of the four MCA Cabinet posts after losing the top portfolio of Finance Minister from the fifties to the early seventies.
Although the post of Housing and Local Government Minister was held by Dr. Neo Yee Pan when he became Acting MCA President following the sudden resignation of Datuk Lee San Choon as MCA President, Neo was always regarded as an “usurper” and expendable by the UMNO leadership who favoured Tan Koon Swan and his faction in the MCA. What is significant is that no MCA President had ever sunk so low as to be Housing and Local Minister in the history of MCA.
Ong Ka Ting’s heresy that Housing and Local Government is a suitable, respectable and honourable Cabinet post for the MCA President is the strongest proof of MCA’s worst political marginalization in Barisan Nasional/Alliance coalition in 46 years since Merdeka in 1957.
Forty-six years after Merdeka, when even MCA leaders should be thinking of themselves as leaders of 23 million Malaysians, it is very sad to see the new MCA President narrowing his vision from a leader of five million Chinese in Malaysia to be a leader of the two million Chinese new villagers in the 452 new villages in the country – as if to step into the shoes of Datuk Seri Dr. Lim Keng Yaik in 1971 when he was appointed MCA Minister without Portfolio with special responsibilities for the new villages!
Last September, Parliament passed the 2003 budget which totalled RM 110 billion, with the Ministry of Housing and Local Government getting less than RM 3.2 billion – or less than three per cent of the national budget.
If Ong is serious that the portfolio of Housing and Local Government is the most suitable, respectable and honourable post for the MCA President in the new millennium, will he be asking the new Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi after the next general election to be allowed to remain as Housing and Local Government Minister?
* Lim Kit Siang, DAP National Chairman