Though never more marginalized in Barisan Nasional as illustrated in mini Cabinet reshuffle, , MCA leadership will ensure unprecedented media manipulation and control of news and views critical of MCA
by Lim Kit Siang
(Petaling Jaya, Friday): Although 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, it is clear that the MCA leadership will ensure unprecedented media manipulation and control of news and views critical of the new MCA leadership.
This could be seen by the way the media owned or controlled by the MCA had either “blacked out” or emasculated statements that the mini Cabinet reshuffle announced by the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad on Tuesday consequent to the resignation of Datuk Seri Dr. Ling Liong Sik as MCA President marked the worst slide and lowest point of MCA political marginalization in the Barisan Nasional/Alliance coalition, with the new MCA President remaining in the Housing and Local Government portfolio which has traditionally been regarded as the most junior of the four MCA slots in the Cabinet.
Now the Malaysian public and the Chinese community are to be “brain-washed” into believing what had for three decades been regarded as the least important of the four MCA Cabinet posts should now be regarded as the most important MCA Cabinet portfolio!
Until last month, the MCA “B” team was in the forefront protesting against the “black-out” or emasculation of news and views by the MCA “A” leadership in the mainstream media, but they are now temporarily reunited to perpetrate the press censorship and media manipulation which they had been the victims.
In defence of the “overriding and critical” importance of the Cabinet portfolio of Housing and Local Government Ministry, one press article today said that in the three-and-a-half years that he was Minister for Housing and Local Government, Ong Ka Ting had brought RM150 million development funds to the 452 new villages, which work out to less than RM100,000 per new village per year –s a far cry from what is available to his counterpart in the Cabinet, the Minister for Rural Development, Datuk Azmi Khalid, who has some RM7 billion for the Malay kampongs, or 15 times what was at the disposal of Ka Ting, for the same period..
In Cabinet terms, Ong Ka Ting’s portfolio is comparable to Azmi Khalid’s, although it is not equivalent as Azmi has 15 times more allocation but party-position-wise, Azmi is only an UMNO Supreme Council member as compared to Ong who is MCA President.
If Ong’s arguments why he wants to remain as Minister for Housing and Local Government are valid, then the UMNO President should also be the Minister for Rural Development. This however is not the case, and the Minister for Rural Development is only an UMNO Supreme Council member – raising the question whether MCA political marginalization in the Barisan Nasional has reached the stage where the Cabinet importance of the MCA President is not very different from that of an UMNO Supreme Council member.
Of course, not everyone agrees about the degree of MCA’s political marginalization in the Barisan Nasional, and the following email is one such example:
“I don't totally agree with your analysis that the current MCA president holding the minister of Housing and Local Government shows the lowest point of power of MCA within the BN since Merderka. (69 was probably worst with the MCA threatening to pull out of the then Alliance after heavy electoral losses)
“What Mahathir did was a personal snub against Ong Ka Ting and not MCA since the party still holds on to the Transport portfolio. Not if Mahathir had returned that portfolio to UMNO and given MCA a lesser portfolio, then it would have been a different story.
“Mahathir snubbed Ka Ting for two reasons, in my opinion:
“1) Accusations of his linkages with the triads which will continue to haunt Ka Ting and linger over him.
“2) His mishandling of the whole incinerator issue which warranted a mention by Dr. Mahathir during the UMNO General Assembly.
“The question now is - will Abdullah Badawi shuffle his cabinet and let Ka Ting take over Transport come November? That will be an indication of Ka Ting's long-term survival as MCA president and whether he has enough UMNO backing under the new leadership.”
What is undisputed is that the stage seems to be set for MCA, despite being most politically marginalized in Barisan Nasional coalition, to perpetrate the worst media manipulation and control in the mainstream media of various languages – especially with the appointment of a MCA Deputy Information Minister and promotion to parliamentary secretary of another MCA MP appointee against whom a police report of assault had been lodged in Kuala Lumpur by a student in May 2001 during protests against the MCA takeover of two Chinese newspapers.
* Lim Kit Siang, DAP National Chairman