MCA should leave BN - but never join Harapan - Commander S THAYAPARAN (Retired) Royal Malaysian Navy
Saturday, October 06, 2018
Malaysiakini : “Whenever a theory appears to you as the only possible one, take
this as a sign that you have neither understood the theory nor the
problem which it was intended to solve.” – Karl Popper
COMMENT | Should MCA leave BN? The short answer would be yes. Remember in the Balakongby-election, DAP national chairperson Tan Kok Wai challengedMCA
to leave BN if it lost the seat. Not only that, he also said that MCA
should join Pakatan Harapan in the future, if they agree with the
coalition's principles.I have no idea what Harapan’s principles are, but if Tan’s muddled
thinking about race-based parties is anything to go by, these principles
must be really screwed up. This is what Tan said about race-based politics: “Malaysia is a
multiracial country. If race-based parties continue to exist, they could
affect the harmony and unity among the people, as they are only looking
out for themselves,”
How anyone can say this with Bersatu as the anchor for Harapan, when
political operatives claimed that Mahathir and Bersatu were needed to
secure the Malay vote, and a bumiputera congress was held to assuage the
anxiety of Harapan-supporting Malays is beyond me. But then again, this
idea of multiculturalism was always a non-Malay meme. Mainstream Malay
politics is not about inclusivity.
So is this idea of leaving BN something MCA should consider? After
May 9, MCA operatives have been more amenable to having conversations
with me. Before, there was understandably a reticence in our
conversations; these days, MCA operatives are more open to a kind of
no-holds-barred discussion about the state of the federation. When I look over some of the social media data, graphs and
what-have-yous that MCA operatives have me study, along with other open
source material, I always tell MCA that they are misreading the “running
dog” narrative that fuels mainstream non-Malay politics.
Look, the Chinese community, no matter what the Kool-Aid says, did
not abandon MCA because they were a race-based party, but because they
believed that MCA were subservient when it came to the racial and
religious based provocations of the Umno state.
The 1MDB issue was a powerful narrative, but the truth is that MCA
was bleeding support long before the excess of the Najib regime sealed
Umno' fate of May 9. This idea that we are living in a postracial
Malaysia is complete nonsense.
Even hardcore Harapan supporters make excuses for its racial politics
because they know that ultimately what determines how 'new' the 'new
Malaysia' really is how far the mainstream Malay polity will go.
Non-Malays are shamed into agreeing with politically correct narratives
of a postracial Malaysia.
The reason why the MCA should leave BN is not as some sort of display
that the MCA disavows Umno, but because Umno may not last much longer.
Better leave when Umno is at least still maintaining some hold over BN,
then leaving as a fait accompli. Right now, Umno is losing the political
war of attrition, waged by Bersatu and factions within PKR.
When incumbent PKR deputy president Mohamed Azmin Ali says that Umno
representation may soon whittle down to nothing, people should pay
attention. I have often said that Azmin is one of the most cunning
political operatives in this country, and certainly one whose ascension
will eventually determine the direction of mainstream Malay politics in
Umno operatives tell me that if MCA leaves BN, this would sound the
death knell of the party. They are wrong. The MCA is already dead in the
water. I remember the days when the DAP had no support from the Chinese
community and were alone in their fight against the Umno regime. This
time it would be easier.
The MCA as an oppositional voice does not have to start from scratch.
While people are comfortable with Harapan now, if the excesses pile up,
there would be a shorter period for a popular revolt most probably
within the non-Malay community.
This idea that people would not vote for MCA because they are a
race-based party is naive. If DAP, which is supposed to be the non-Malay
safeguard against bumiputera excess, lets non-Malays down, then MCA
regardless of its 'race-based' status is the sole secular alternative in
Just to recap of what I wrote in my open letter
to the MCA -“While I am ambivalent about you opening up, what I do know
is that you do not have to be a multiracial party to advocate secular,
egalitarian principles – contradictory as that may seem – and act as a
watchdog for corruption in the new government.
At this moment, anything you say will be mocked, and your political
operatives vilified. But here’s the thing. The same happened to the
opposition during the long Umno watch, before the charismatic Anwar
Ibrahim cobbled together an alliance which eventually brought down the
Remember mainstream Malay politics always demonise Chinese-based
political, economic and social structures. During the election season,
it was the yellow peril narrative (China) from Harapan and the
Chinese-dominated federal government narrative of Umno. Both demonised a
certain community with the aim of galvanising Malay support. This is
the bedrock of mainstream Malay politics.
Stand and deliver
This is why the MCA needs to stand and suffer alone if need be,
building back its base without Umno and certainly not with Harapan. If the MCA folds for whatever reason, non-Malay Malaysians will have
no secular alternative which has been in the federal and state
bureaucracy. There will be no other non-Malay power structure to rally
around with the experience of dealing with Malay hegemons.
And while some people will laugh now that Harapan will never accept
the MCA into their fold, who knows how things will turn out. There may
very well be a split in the Chinese vote too. When this day happens,
there will certainly be overtures to the idea of Chinese solidarity.
Right the now the gameplan is to destroy BN, but specifically for
Malay power structures to consolidate power to ensure some sort of
stability. The reality is that the personality politics as exemplified
by the current prime minister will not last forever. Maybe not even a
full term. Add to this the internal power struggles within Harapan and PAS,
which is a far more dangerous adversary than Umno, and what we have is a
possible spring of theocratic discontent.
The MCA needs to leave Umno and remain independent not as some sort
of penance – May 9 is penance enough – but because soon Malaysians will
understand that we will always need a secular racial alternative to
mainstream Malay politics.