Tuesday, April 26, 2011

MCA, UMNO's Running Dog?

KUALA LUMPUR: The MCA has lost its relevance and it is surviving only because it is riding piggy-back on Umno, political analyst James Chin said.

He added that even this perception was recently shattered.

When Malay right-wing group Perkasa protested outside the MCA headquarters yesterday, nobody from Umno came in support of MCA, said Chin, from Monash University.

He said the Perkasa protest against MCA holds larger and deeper significance as far as Umno-MCA relations is concerned in that it reinforces the “petty” role played by the Chinese-based party in the ruling coalition.


“The big problem is that the Chinese community sees MCA as powerless in Barisan Nasional (BN). They see MCA as providing cover to Umno which can claim to have a multiracial government when in fact BN is Umno and Umno is BN,” he told FMT.

MCA, the second largest and a senior BN component, is attempting to rebrand itself under current president Dr Chua Soi Lek. Chua is trying to do away with the notion that his party is submissive to Umno in the coalition.

Chua has embarked on a crusade to restore MCA’s image as champions of the Chinese, often crossing swords with Umno’s top echelons and upsetting Perkasa, whose members are made up of Umno’s supporters.

Perkasa and Umno’s constant harping on communal sentiments to maintain its Malay powerbase is the reason behind MCA’s waning appeal, claimed Chua.

This includes the constant attack by Umno’s mouthpiece Utusan Malaysia on the Chinese community for continuing to support the opposition.

Chua blasted Utusan as “extremists” and racists, striking a raw nerve that forced Perkasa to rally in Utusan’s defence.

Chin said that one notable point in the ongoing MCA-Perkasa row is the absence of Umno in defending its senior coalition partner.

While Umno’s top guns have distanced themselves from Perkasa and Utusan, none have backed MCA’s condemnation of the two.

“The Perkasa demonstration outside MCA headquarters sends the message that Umno will not defend MCA if MCA challenges Ketuanan Melayu (Malay supremacy).

“MCA’s strategy of speaking out will not work as it reinforced the view that it has no power in the government.

“It is no coincidence that some in the Chinese community call them Umno’s running dogs,” said the political analyst.

Nothing will change

With only 15 seats in Parliament, all won on Malay support, MCA is in no position to bargain, rendering its rebranding efforts useless and its political future bleak, said Khoo Kay Peng, an independent analyst.

MCA loyalists have praised Chua and his party’s attempt to reconcile with the Chinese electorate but Khoo said such effort is merely staged to save MCA from complete humiliation, given that the party survives only on Umno’s political courtesy.

“Nothing is going to happen,” Khoo told FMT when asked how MCA plans to deal with Umno’s connection with Perkasa and its communal rhetoric via its mouthpiece Utusan.

“MCA will find it hard to get out of the box. The party will back away. Going against Umno is going against government policies,” he added.

Khoo’s statement resembles that of the DAP’s, which has challenged the party to quit BN if it was against Umno’s alleged racist politics. To stay with BN is to support what the DAP labels as racially discriminative policies.

Khoo, however, noted that racial politics bears little weight now as Malaysia’s electorate, especially urban voters, are wise to the ways of the ruling party.

It’s all about good governance and equitable policies which means that if BN implements complete and thorough reform, it could see a return of support regardless of race.

“If you put the money back in their pockets, they will come back,” he said.


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