Friday, February 10, 2012

A Peak into Feb 18 Points of Arguments : The Chinese Political Future Debate

KUALA LUMPUR: Come Feb 18, MCA president Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek and DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng will lock horns in a debate over the Chinese political future. Dr Chua said he had accepted the invitation for the debate organised by the Asian Strategy and Leadership Institute (Asli) and MCA think-tank, Institute of Strategic Analysis and Policy Research (Insap), during one of the sessions at the one-day forum on Malaysian Chinese political future at a hotel here. "I will be having a debate with Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng during the Feb 18 Chinese political conference. "I thank him for accepting the organiser's invitation for the debate," he told reporters after chairing the MCA central committee meeting. The forum titled, 'Malaysian Chinese at the Political Crossroads', is expected to be officiated by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak. All Chinese-based political parties, both in Barisan Nasional and the opposition, have been invited to present their achievements at the forum. Apart from leaders of political parties, other speakers would include representatives of non-governmental organisations. BERNAMA here

Can the Chinese debate their political future on issues exclusively Chinese?

To begin let me quote Lucian Pye observation in Asian Power and Politics: The cultural dimensions of Authority

How true is that situation?

Fast forward a little bit

According to Rita Sim of Insap, the MCA think-tank, Chinese support for the DAP has not changed much over the last 20 years. Contrary to public perception, DAP’s support from mainly the Chinese, and to a lesser extent the Indians, has hovered at around one million votes for each of the last five general elections. But support for parties like PAS and PKR shot up by more than two million votes over the same period.

The Barisan Nasional, on the other hand, saw its support increase by one million votes over the same period. “The Malay vote has shifted the most. The Chinese vote has been quite constant in trend,” said Sim. Issues like corruption, abuse of power and good governance cut across race lines. Malays are equally concerned about these issues and that may explain why they have taken their votes elsewhere. But the significant number of Chinese voters in the last two by-elections made it seem as though the Chinese had swung or, as some would put it, are ungrateful. Shift to PAS PAS has been the chief beneficiary of the Malay shift. Its share of votes has increased three-fold from only about 376,000 in 1990 to 1.1 million in 2008. PKR’s support began with 774,000 votes in 1999, dipped to 578,000 in 2004 and surged to 1.5 million in 2008.

Its support has been from primarily the Malays and Chinese who are not comfortable with the way DAP handles issues. Politics, said Insap chairman Datuk Seri Dr Fong Chan On, is also about convincing people to support you because you can guarantee their future and that of their children. It is not about whether people are ungrateful or disloyal to a political party. Sim: ‘MCA and Gerakan feel the brunt of Chinese anger and frustration at the ballot box’. “If they think we are not delivering what they want, they go elsewhere. That’s the politics of voting and it’s the same in every part of the world,” said Dr Fong. He said the perception that the Chinese are content with immersing themselves in business and leaving politics to the Malays is also a myth in modern Malaysia. Chinese make up only 25% of the population, but they have a high voter registration rate and make up about 32% of the electorate. The implication here is that political awareness among the Chinese is high, and they keep in touch with issues, some more so than others.

A large proportion of them are connected to the Internet. “It’s one of the arenas where they feel that they have equal rights and they want to exercise it to the fullest. This is where parties like MCA and Gerakan feel the brunt of Chinese frustration,” said Sim. The Chinese stuff all their anger and dissatisfaction into the ballot box. The 2008 general election was the perfect example of that. DAP’s share of the vote in 2004 was only about 700,000 as the Chinese supported Barisan and gave Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi a ringing victory. But barely a year later, they were stunned when he sat back and allowed Umno leaders including his son-in-law to wave the keris and rant about Malay supremacy. Four years later, they pulled back their support and DAP’s share of the total votes increased to 1.1 million. here

The Chinese over the last 3 years have seen how DAP politicians having the upper-hand in the current political set-up of Pakatan Rakyat, I do not need to cite the examples as I think most of you are aware of the developments in the various PR lead states.

The Chinese have also over the years heard of the egalitarian Malaysian Malaysia clarion call being pushed by DAP ever since Lee Kuan Yew left and now the re-branded Malaysia First

MALAYSIAN FIRST is a continuation of DAP’s original struggle for a Malaysian Malaysia. Malaysian First stresses the dual purpose of achieving national unity and economic prosperity amongst all Malaysians. First, national unity should be based not on race or religion but on a common identity centered on democracy, freedom, justice, integrity and human dignity. Secondly the importance of becoming global champions in academic excellence, economic competitiveness, technological merit and knowledge management to ensure economic prosperity that is shared equitably with all Malaysians. The first limb: National Unity If we should not identify ourselves based on the colour of our skin or the God we pray, then what is the meaning of being Malaysian? DAP submits that being Malaysian should depend on certain universal values we share and subscribe, focusing particularly on democracy, freedom, justice, integrity and human dignity. Being a Malaysian should mean:- upholding democratic values where people can participate in decision-making by electing their representatives at all levels, including local government elections; enjoying basic human rights and freedoms, especially freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want, and freedom from fear.(Roosevelt); Justice and equality goes together in upholding the rule of law “where injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere;(Martin Luther King); Integrity is not just being closer to God but upholding transparency and accountability would make us more successful in battling the scourge of corruption; The inalienable right of every human to be treated with dignity and respect enjoying equal political rights as a citizen of Malaysia. This is the first limb of Malaysian First where these 5 values of democracy, freedom, justice, integrity and human dignity are values that all Malaysians can associate and take pride in. The Second Limb: Ensuring Economic Prosperity National unity and economic progress are interdependent. Only with national unity can we secure the basis for economic progress. And only with economic progress can national unity be sustained. .......... We need a Malaysian First Economic policy emphasizing wealth creation and an equitable wealth distribution relying on academic excellence, economic competitiveness, technological merit and knowledge management as well as based on the principle that the benefits and burdens are to be shared equitably. Let us pursue this Malaysian Dream that we are seen not as Malays, Chinese and Indians but as 100% Malaysians with equal rights and opportunities and whose hard work will be rewarded richly and enjoyed in a safe and secure environment. Let us make Malaysian First  here 

Now lets go back to the situation before 2008 Election, I'm sourcing this from Ong Tee Keat page where he actually put up one of the US Embassy Cables (he must have said all those things I presume)

3. (C) Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA) Vice President Ong Tee Keat, who also serves as the Deputy Minister of Higher Education, was one of the few ministerial level Chinese politicians who refused to deny publicly or privately the fact that Chinese Malaysians are marginalized. In a private meeting with poloff Ong commented that although Chinese leaders from MCA and the People's Movement Party (Gerakan) were bound to support government (i.e. UMNO) positions, their Chinese constituents were not satisfied with their responses. Ong commented that in cases such as this, "silence is sometimes our only valid response." But he acknowledged, "of course we are marginalized, big business to small stall owners know that -- but MCA cannot admit it." So when pressed by reporters for a public response to Lee's accusation, Ong related an old Chinese proverb -- "Whether the water in the tea cup is hot or cold, he who drinks it knows best."

4. (C) According to Ong, MCA will face its greatest electoral challenge ever in the next two years. In his opinion, there was great dissatisfaction with the status quo in the Chinese community that was only partially seen in the Sarawak elections when the opposition Democratic Action Party (DAP) won six seats (Ref A). "Sarawak was a wake-up call for all Chinese parties," Ong told poloff. MCA and Gerakan have studied the results of the Sarawak elections, but are not sure they can counter the growing discontent in their communities. The Chinese component parties of BN no longer have community focused development projects to show their constituents, as these have all been redirected to Malay communities. "There was once a day in Malaysia when MCA would get the left-overs, but now we are just hoping to get some crumbs from the UMNO table," said Ong. Ong admitted that an example of only getting the crumbs could be seen in the Ninth Malaysia plan wherein the government planned for the construction of 180 new elementary and secondary schools, none of which would be vernacular schools for either the Chinese or Indian communities. Only after loud outcries from the Chinese community did the Ministry of Education "cave in" and announce that two of the 180 schools would be designated as Chinese vernacular schools. Again, MCA could not provide a proportional voice for the Chinese minority, and Ong believed the community took note.

7. (C) In a separate meeting with poloff, Lee Kah Choon admitted that, like MCA, Gerakan too would face a strong political challenge in the next general election, as they have not been able to overcome the perception that the Chinese community is continually discriminated against by the Malay majority government. Lee's only hope was that DAP "would continue to run dishwashers and truck drivers" for state and federal parliamentary seats, and thus would remain uncompetitive in the general elections in Penang. In another meeting, Dr. Toh Kin Woon lamented that UMNO was resorting to "blatant racist tactics that Malaysia has not seen since the late 1980s." He attributed the rise in UMNO's racist rhetoric to PM Abdullah's weakness as a leader. "Malaysians need a strong leader who knows when to be ruthless. Mahathir knew how to be ruthless, but he became cruel, and that's when he lost respect. Abdullah is not cruel, but neither is he ruthless when he needs to be. He is just weak; so he resorts to racist tactics to hold on to the majority Malays." He faulted Koh for not standing up to Abdullah regarding his accusations of the Chinese marginalizing ethnic Malays in Penang, and opined that such weakness in the party opened the door for the opposition to make significant gains in then next general election. here

I want all of you to look back over the last few years.

Who has DAP been attacking?

The Chinese Pro-Government Party or the Leading Malay Party?

At the same time, look at how MCA reaction on Chinese specific issues and its relation with UMNO

This pattern is consistent with the type of democracy our country has adopted.

I wrote about it sometime back

What is Consociational Democracy? The main Theorist Arend Lijphard came out with the term after studying deeply divided societies;

"Consociational prescriptions are based on the principle that each ethnic polity should enjoy a significant degree of autonomy and a right of veto over matters directly affecting the welfare of its members. Emphasising the need for elite cooperation if democracy is to survive in ethnically-cleaved societies, consociational agreements entail a balance of power within government between clearly defined social segments, brokered by identifiable ethnic leaders representing distinct social groups" Benjamin Reilly

Here the key word is "Elite" and "Power of Veto of Key Decisions" by Minority groups..... As per the theory.....the Elites are tasked to represent the respective did this came about.....I think all of you by now know that our leaders from the start of this young country were made up of the "big guns, big money and aristocrats" of each ethnic need to explain further...... As per the level of plurality in our society......let us start from the most extreme as per the original defination by the British Scholar JS Furnival "a plural society in which the different racial groups live side by side under a single political administration but, apart from economic transactions, do not interact with each other socially or culturally"

Sounds familiar folks?........ Our PM launched his 1Malaysia yang Satu Malaysia tak paham …….which is the antithesis to "So many Malaysia"....after how many years of Merdeka? Why so ? Look around you and judge for yourself how we stand from religious, ideological, linguistic, cultural, ethnic or racial lines and ask yourself are we not operating as subsocieties with our own political parties, interest groups, media of communication and the whole jingbeng la.

Lets go back to the theory.... “Consociationalism guarantees that each ethnic group would share political power and constrains the elite of those different groups to govern together. Consociationalism is therefore a powerful means for protecting minorities and for imposing accommodation at the political level. However, consociationalism suffers of schizophrenia: if consociation compels political elites to find a compromise between the demands of ethnic groups, it does not give group leaders any incentive to adopt a moderate discourse on ethnic questions. On the contrary, in order to obtain the support of their electorate, leaders must adopt an aggressive attitude.” Laurent De Brey

Sound familiar again folks? Just look back at each party campaign speeches or Even the Annual party meetings rhetorics…..

Now lets us look at the other side of the coin....Centripetalism

"Centripetalism is as a political system or strategy designed to focus competition at the moderate centre rather than the extremes, and identified three facilitating components:

(i) the presentation of electoral incentives for campaigning politicians to reach out to and attract votes from a range of ethnic groups other than their own, thus encouraging candidates to moderate their political rhetoric on potentially divisive issues and forcing them to broaden their policy positions;

(ii) the presence of multiethnic arenas of bargaining such as parliamentary and executive forums, in which political actors from different groups have an incentive to come together and cut deals on reciprocal electoral support, and hence perhaps on other more substantial policy issues as well; and

(iii) the development of centrist, aggregative and multiethnic political parties or coalitions of parties which are capable of making cross-ethnic appeals and presenting a complex and diverse range of policy options to the electorate. Like consociationalism, centripetal proposals for conflict management focus on parties, elections, and representative institutions as the key focus of political engineering. However, the institutional recommendations made by centripetalists often run sharply counter to those of consociationalists. For instance, rather than focussing on the fair representation of ethnically-defined political parties, centripetalists place a premium on promoting multiethnic parties and cross-ethnic activity" Benjamin Reilly

So folks how does this fit into what we are observing in Malaysia.... Take the Barisan for instance its 3 main component parties are actually Consociationalist and the Barisan National itself is the Centripetalist when they go for election la...policy making is still dictated by the Consociationalist extremist...... So what happens now when an issue that falls into the ethnic cleavage crops up? How does the Elites Political Actors react to the demand of each ethnic interest they move to the center to find a solution or do they go to the extreme to gain the ethnic political support here
Come February 18, two political actors representing their ethnic group will be discussing the future path of their community and how they will lead them.

One of them has shown his bottom line going forward

The MCA Presidential Council has unanimously decided that it will not take up any government posts ranging from cabinet ministers to village heads if the Party performs worse in the coming General Election than the one on March 8 in 2008. After chairing a 3-hour Presidential Council meeting on April 29, MCA President Datuk Seri Dr. Chua Soi Lek said that is what the Party is going to do if MCA fails to perform better than the 2008 General Elections especially in garnering the support from the Chinese community. Soi Lek added that although such a decision has been made, the MCA will continue to stay in Barisan Nasional because the Party is confident that under the leadership of Prime Minister Dato’ Sri Haji Mohd Najib bin Tun Haji Abdul Razak, the country will transform and achieve the target of 1Malaysia and become a high income nation by 2020. here
This scenario is similar to the stand MCA took after the 1969 Election

However, after the May general elections in 1969, Malaysia suffered a great setback with the outbreak of the May 13 riots. The MCA bore the brunt of anti-establishment feelings during the May elections and after the electoral setback, the MCA withdrew from the Cabinet. An emergency was declared after the May 13 riots which were blamed on provocation by the Opposition parties. The MCA rejoined the Cabinet later. Subsequently, Tun Tan devoted his time and energy to galvanise the Chinese community in working together with other races for a better Malaysia. The Chinese unity movement was launched and mass rallies were held all over the country. But as the movement grew in momentum, Tun Tan also became the target of attack by those from inside and outside the party who failed to appreciate his good intention. here

Before we go on further I want to bring back an old post into perspective (the J Curve Analysis and The Intra Race Barriers to Unity)

In this framework I said that there is a major Cultural, Linguistic and Religious Barrier that will block the Unity within the Class Dimension and as long as the Government has the Economic capacity to ensure that the Economic Gaps are managed we should be OK.

In 1969 the trigger events were the Cultural and Linguistic Barrier among the races compounded by the Major Gaps in the Economic Class Dimension...

What did we get ?

A Race Riot

It was not a Riot to overthrow the Government of the day demanding greater freedom.

And the Government was swift to restore "stability" with Military rule..

Recent events indicate that someone is tying to play dangerous game with the barrier (pig in mosque and extra spinning on white angpows)

The barriers will stay for a long political party at this stage is ready to address those issue head on.

So how do we ride the J then?

I shall reiterate my message in the previous post....

Champion the Democracy that you are fighting for...avoid the Red Area in the above graph. 

At the same time we must also figure out how to reduce the Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Barrier that is keeping us read here my detail tots on the issue

Back to the debate folks...

This upcoming event on Feb 18th between the two Chinese party leaders will definitely touch things like Affirmative Action, Islamic Laws encroachment into the Chinese Lives and many more potentially sensitive matters.

DAP being a socialist based party will paint a rather bleak picture regarding the gaps in the class dimensions, it will also be attacking the corruption of the elites and perhaps stir up some ethnic and racial issues.

Both side will probably be covering the standard issues on Chinese vernacular schools and the recognition of the UEC.

How will either side "sell" its policy on how to bring forward this "marginalised minority"?

Will it be about how the two major race could co-exist and prosper together?

I think we need to go back to the genuine spirit of cooperation Pre Merdeka. Did you know that the MCA in 1952 actually had a fund to help the less fortunate Malays.

Source here

That spirit is long gone.

The Prime Minister who is opening the event holds the key.

He will need to address two very key issue (here)
  1. How to strengthen our core institutions with specific focus on the eradication of Corruption by empowering the MACC greater powers.(here)
  2. How to be more transparent with regards to the previous implementation of affirmative action programs/the provisions under Article 153 and provide details on his "Market Friendly Affirmative Action" plans to counter PR's "Need Based" Plans. (here)
That will swing the debate into the center.

The Chinese who will be watching the debate would then probably have 2 things at the back of their mind

  1. Do we put our future in the hands of someone who regularly lies to hide his mediocre performance as a leader of a State Government and continuously play with racial sentiments? (no need links bersepah2 post gua kantoi mamat ni kencing)
  2. If the Malay Votes swings back to BN, do we run the risk of not having any representation in the Government?

When Tun Badawi won the election in 2004, he actually did nothing.

It was the hope of a better future lead by someone who is CLEAN

Both side will need to fight on who will be CLEANER, MORE ACCOUNTABLE AND TRANSPARENT in its decision and policy making in governing the country.

Let the game of perception begin.

Technical Notes: Chinese Responses to Malay Hegemony (here)

oh before gua lupe hope Mr Proofy can explain how an "open tender" land was sold at a lower price (240psf) than the valuation (7 Million Short- Section 2.1.2 here) and 1 Billion Short if you compare to another land near Queensbay Mall (420psf) (here)

Very interesting "Willing Seller Willing Buyer" activity going on in Penang.

Source here
Minds are like parachutes; they work best when open. -Lord Thomas Dewer