Malaysian Chinese Association urges multiracial approach

May 5th, 2008 - 2:24 pm ICT by admin  

Kuala Lumpur, May 5 (IANS) Malaysia’s biggest ethnic Chinese party has stressed on the need to adopt a more multiracial approach after people delivered a mixed verdict in the March elections. A top official of the Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA), the second-largest party in ruling coalition Barisan Nasional (BN), said a multiracial outlook was important for the party’s relevance in politics.

MCA vice president Ong Tee Keat said: “We need to project a multi-racial outlook and approach to handle peoples’ concerns.”

The MCA has since independence in 1957 claimed to speak for the 33 percent ethnic Chinese population in Malaysia.

“I do not rule out the possibility that my agenda will raise the eyebrows of the conservative (members) in the party in the name of preserving the orthodox ways. I am also mindful of the possibility that this might be used by my detractors in the forthcoming party elections and make me risk losing support within the party,” Ong, who is also Malaysia transport minister, was quoted as saying by the New Straits Times Monday.

He added: “(But) I am adamant in my stand. I am convinced this is the way out for the party if you really want to keep it relevant.

“After 50 years of independence, we should practise or initiate changes in the mindset (of members) and in our endeavour to forge a new political culture.”

Ong, known for being articulate in Bahasa Malaysia, Mandarin and English, said adopting a multiracial approach would not be difficult for MCA as its members had been “non-mono-ethnic” in their approach, official news agency Bernama reported.

The Malaysian Indian Congress (MIC), however seemed to disagree. The MIC claims to represent the 2.6 million ethnic Indians, who roughly make up eight percent of Malaysia’s 27 million population.

S. Samy Vellu, its long-time president and former minister who lost in the last polls, ridiculed the idea recently, saying it was not practical.

“I can also say MIC is multiracial since 10-15 of its members have married Chinese women,” he had remarked earlier.

The Malaysian voter is perceived as having broken the racial ranks and voted differently in the recent polls as a result of which the BN, which has had the representation of all ethnic groups, lost two-thirds majority in parliament and lost control of five states.

According a post-poll study, 24 percent majority Malays, some 30 percent Chinese and a whopping 69 percent Indians voted away from the BN.

Emerging strong for the first time, the opposition has 82 members in parliament who lost no time in forming a loose alliance, Pakatan Rakyat (PR), which is threatening to woo members from the BN to form a government this year.

PR, which rules in five states, garnered votes cutting across ethnic lines. The new alliance comprises Parti Kealadan Rakyat (PKR) of former deputy prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim, the Democratic Action Party (DAP) headed by Indian origin lawyer-lawmaker Karpal Singh and the Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS).

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