Non-Chinese Malaysians can now join the MCA as associate members, its party sec-gen Chong Sin Woon announced yesterday.
Err methinks they’d have to learn Mandarin first because the MCA does not readily cater to bahasa Melayu speakers.
This belated opening up by MCA has been approved by ROS, allowing the party to begin recruiting from other races.
MCA desperately needs new blood from a multiracial pool because its current members are holdovers from Tan Cheng Lock’s era (see picture below).
Plus the majority of its fickle Chinese flock has already flown away to the rival evangelical party.
MCA has always hawked ‘cultural diversity’ for M’sia
Tan Cheng Lock made an important speech titled ‘One country, one people, one government’ on 30 Oct 1949.
The MCA founder mentioned several interesting things in his inaugural presidential address to the party general committee meeting held in Penang.
Firstly, he touched on the “outrage” that happened a few months earlier on April 10 in Ipoh. There the communists had thrown a hand grenade at him.
The explosion left Tan badly injured but evidently he survived to make history as one of modern Malaya’s founding fathers.
Few are aware but Tan Cheng Lock had preceded Lim Kit Siang by several decades in the former’s promotion of “Malayan first”.
The MCA president believed nationhood was required to be built on communal goodwill and cooperation. Nonetheless Tan maintained that the different communities would still be “independent culturally”.
“Cultural diversity” was desirable to Tan as his idea of Malaya Baru was the coexistence of different ‘nations’ (peoples/races) within one state.
He gave the example of Switzerland, which has four official languages, as a model for Malaya.
BELOW: Tan Cheng Lock and his wife pictured in Switzerland, 1935
Has MCA succeeded in making Chinese identify wholly with M’sia?
The “one country, one people” concept formulated by MCA can be explained in Tan’s following own words —
“based on the principle that citizenship, which shall be nationality, with equality of rights and duties, should be open to all those of whatever race or creed who can claim by birth or a suitable period of residence that Malaya is their home to which they owe allegiance and undivided loyalty”.
Like a typical politician, Tan also liberally sprinkled his 1949 speech with timeless buzzwords like “unity”, “fraternity”, “liberty” and “racial equality”.
(And in March 2021, his party is finally opening its door to non-Chinese but only as associate members.)
In the same lengthy speech, Tan referred to the 1947 Malayan population census which revealed that slightly more than one-third of the Chinese then residing in Malaya were China-born.
The main task of MCA – founded on 27 Feb 1949 – was to help eligible Chinese apply for Malayan citizenship under the 1948 federal constitution.
“This is a very important function of the [Malayan Chinese] Association, and our efforts in this respect should be systematized and sustained in the future for the purpose of making our people Malayan-minded and identifying themselves wholly with this country and its peoples.”
Tan urged, “All in this country must learn to become Malayans first”. Thus LKS’s tiresome ‘Malaysian first’ mantra is hardly original.
Likewise Tan Cheng Lock had already formulated his “Malaya for Malayans” rallying cry as early as 1932, if not earlier.
In this, Tan had similarly preceded Lee Kuan Yew and the latter’s “Malaysia for Malaysians” slogan.
Hence MCA was actually the early bird to hatch this ‘Bangsa’ brand but was quickly outplayed by PAP-DAP in the propaganda and publicity department.
So we come to the MCA ‘multiracial’ milestone being presently rolled out.
This new move by MCA to admit non-Chinese members is a better-late-than-never attempt to blunt the Dapsters’ taunt that the party is “racist” (monoracial).
What will be its effect or will there even be any?
The Chinese’s Bangsa politics reaching its logical conclusion
In my humble opinion, the caravan has moved on and there is no turning back.
After GE15, a Malay government will be installed. PAS will be the key, or kingmaker, component of the post-election ruling party.
And PAS dislikes MCA and DAP almost equally.
It is possible for the next government to comprise a strong PAS together with MCA having a small handful of Chinese MPs.
It will be impossible, however, for the next government to comprise PAS together with a strong DAP dominated by Christian MPs.
It is equally impossible for any Malay unity government to be formed without PAS.
The inflection point came in 2018 when 95 percent of the Chinese electorate threw their vote behind New Hope-DAP.
Now there is nothing the Chinese, MCA, DAP or Sinchew can do to deflect the trajectory set in GE14. Elections have consequences after all.