MCA to soldier on, remain in Barisan Nasional

THE sense of urgency in MCA president Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai's voice is obvious these days. It is not without reason.

Having taken over the party's helm in December 2013, he perhaps never dreamt of the worrying political scenario today.

While efforts to unite members and put in place a transformation plan for MCA and the community is on track, the current political landscape has posed new challenges for it.

MCA, the second largest Barisan Nasional component party, turns 66 this year and finds itself at the crossroads.

Ahead of the MCA annual general assembly this weekend, the president spoke of how and why the party has to soldier on despite all the odds stacked against it.

"MCA will remain in Barisan Nasional," says the party president in no uncertain terms.

Critics and detractors alike have been calling on MCA to leave the coalition and these calls have been louder of late.

Certain racist acts committed recently by some Umno leaders openly, including belittling MCA leaders, are unprecedented.

But Liow sees the critical situation as one where MCA has all the more reason to stay put in the coalition.

"Irrespective of anything happening, especially racial in nature, MCA, as a Barisan Nasional partner, will have to bring the coalition back to the track of moderation," he said, pointing out that this has been the party's responsibility since its inception.

And the party, he added, must stay united and strong in order to do that.

On DAP's incessant attacks, Liow asked what difference the DAP has made after winning 38 parliamentary seats in the last general election.

"What is the voters' rationale in giving DAP a stronger presence? Lim Guan Eng, who is DAP secretary-general and Penang Chief Minister, is still saying he is being bullied!"

Against the backdrop of a flagging economy, the MCA president said the party will focus more on how to improve the country's eco­nomy and help the people.

Day-to-day living is an important issue for the people and the party is going all out to engage with them via the new media.

Some constituencies, like Bentong where Liow is the MP, have started doing this.

"We want feedback from the people on how MCA can do better and also to let them know what we have done and can do for them.

"The information can be very helpful. It could include interesting places to visit and local delicacies in the respective constituencies."

This will help promote tourism and benefit the people, he added.

MCA will continue to play its conventional role of upgrading basic infrastructure in rural areas in particular, but Liow said the time has come to do more than that.

"For instance, we are coming up with plans to bring economic deve­lopment to new villages," he said.

At the macro economic level, Liow said the party has outlined 10 economic sectors to focus on under MCA's transformation plan.

Challenges and a weakening economy are indeed worrying but Liow assured the people that there are still business and job opportunities locally and abroad, and that MCA will go all out to help the people ride the storm.

He said the "One Belt One Road" initiative by China, which offers abundant economic opportunities in this region, is one not to be missed.

Liow said it is important for Malaysia to tap on its strong points in order to have a competitive edge in the world arena.

Internal fighting within any organisation, be it a political party or a coalition is self-defeating, he said.

In fact, Liow said the increasingly tense racial relations since the last general election in 2013 had resulted in the current state of affairs where racists are bold and blatant.

"This is very worrying and we must not allow the situation to deteriorate further and frighten away investors and tourists."

Liow said the racial tension, if not arrested quickly, could be disastrous.

"Malaysia under Barisan Nasional has always been a multi-­racial, harmonious and stable country. This must remain the same."

The Sept 16 rally: "MCA is still very angry with protesters parading with banners

Hapuskan SJKC (close down Chinese primary schools) at the Sept 16 red-shirt rally, though mother tongue education is enshrined under the Federal Constitution."

The next general election: "The 14th general election will pose even more challenges to MCA but we will face it bravely and prove our worth with actions."

Race relations in the country: "The situation has deteriorated since the 2013 general election and now we even have to convince people abroad that there will not be any riot in the country."

Race card: "People fear because some leaders are playing the racial card openly and this has to be put to a halt immediately or we risk creating a very dangerous situation in the country."

Damage control: "We (MCA) hope all can go on a repair mode and not incite racial hatred."

Quit or no quit: "The DAP always challenges the MCA to quit Barisan Nasional but just tell me how this can benefit the people if and when MCA leaves the coalition?"

Political fatigue: "There is enough of politicking and the big picture should be how we can put our act together to save the economy and help our people weather the difficult times."

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