Half the battle won for MCA

Huddled in a makeshift tent to get updates on the vote counting, MCA supporters knew they had lost the by-election by 7pm.

But that did not stop them from staying on with their party leaders to get the next update. They had worked very hard and they were all very concerned about the results.

An hour later, party president Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai started to address his party comrades; he thanked everyone for their effort and most of all, the bravery and courage to fight this battle. But not all is lost.

"It is a good start for us," he said in a bid to brighten up the dejected faces of the supporters.

"There is a return of Chinese support. And we also managed to reduce their (PKR) majority. Do not worry. The PKR vote majority this time around is definitely below that of the 6,824 in the elections last year," he said.

As the saying goes - a good beginning is half the battle won. This by-election results can be seen as a breakthrough for the party which saw its performance in the general election plunging from having 107 seats in 2004 to 46 in 2008 and 18 last year.

The main if not the only reason for the drop is that Chinese voters have been leaving the party in droves since the 2008 elections.

While MCA has targeted 30 per cent support from the Chinese in this by-election and managed to secure 25 per cent, this is still an encouraging signal, although Liow stressed it was not considered a good signal.

Perhaps, what he meant is that there is much room for improvement and he is careful not to allow complacency to set in.

He pointed out that a lot more needs to be done to engage the Chinese community, especially the younger generation, to win them over.

While the party is ready to take up this challenge, it also has to contend with many other major hurdles which are beyond its control at times.

The Chinese, especially the younger ones, are very concerned about national issues, for instance.

The Opposition, particularly DAP, is good at capitalising on such issues, and spinning them.

It cannot be denied that there are issues that called for all Barisan Nasional component parties to address them together with the larger picture in mind - if they want to win back the support of all Malaysians irrespective of race and background.

Listening to the ceramah will give one an idea that these issues are centred on topics like the rising cost of living, security, judicial system and meritocracy.

These were hot topics in the general election last year. They will continue to be hot topics in the next elections.

The Opposition will continue to harp on these issues and win the people over, until and unless the people are convinced otherwise.