Saturday, October 18, 2008

Dato' Seri Ong Ka Ting's Address at MCA General Assembly

Today is MCA 55th General Assembly and also its Election!

This morning, was at Wisma MCA, helping to sell the book "Heartfelt Expressions - Embracing Ong Ka Ting and His Actions". And being there, I got some opportunity to take a look at how the General Assembly is.

When I reach there around 9am, tons of people were there already. Those candidates were busy going around, to speak, shake hand and convince the delegates to support them. For others, it is the time to catch up and discuss on national issues.

By 9:45am, Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister, led by Dato' Seri Ong Ka Ting arrived at the venue, with leaders of other component parties too.

The ceremony ended just before noon, and then it was the election time. Voting was from around 1pm to 2ish pm. During that time, Dato' Seri Ong Ka Ting even dropped by the booth selling the books, and started to autograph for many who were there. It is just amazing, seeing Dato' Seri being so humble to walk over and share with many there, including many journalists. Many asked to take photographs with Dato' Seri too. Thanks to Siad Huey from TV2 who helped to take photo for me, I got the chance to take a photo with Dato' Seri on this historical day.

Dato' Seri is definitely a selfless leader, who care a lot about the community, and not about himself. He made the sacrifice to quit being minister and now quit being MCA President, for the sake of party and nation, and also to inculcate a healthy political culture within MCA. This MCA election was done transparently, where anyone can view what happens inside the hall through the many screens that were placed outside the hall.

Over the years, Dato' Seri has fought on many issues for those under-priviledged and also fought for the education and future of many. His humility to just approach anyone, including many students and younger generation touched the heart of many. It is not easy to find someone like Dato' Seri who would go down to the ground. He shared on his many occasion driving on his own, directing the way for his driver, lining up to buy things etc.

It is amazing to see Dato' Seri grew from his humble background in a small village in Perak to today, MCA President and now retired, while still dedicating his life to contribute to community.

Below is his speech this morning (which he wrote himself) to cap his blazing career for the community.

This is quoted from The Star .

The full text of MCA president Datuk Seri Ong Ka Ting’s speech at the 55th MCA Convention at Dewan San Choon, Kuala Lumpur

ON behalf of the MCA party, I convey my deepest appreciation to Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, the Prime Minister and Barisan Nasional chairman, for being here with us once again and for officiating MCA’s 55th annual general assembly on this auspicious morning. I also welcome and extend my gratitude to Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, the Deputy Prime Minister and Barisan Nasional deputy chairman as well as to all leaders and representatives from Barisan Nasional component parties for attending MCA’s annual general assembly this morning.

Honoured ladies and gentlemen,

It is a historic moment to have Barisan Nasional chairman Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi as our honoured guest who will officiate the MCA general assembly. This is because this is the last time he will officiate MCA’s general assembly and this is also my last MCA general assembly as president of the party.

On behalf of MCA, I wish to take this opportunity to convey my highest appreciation to Datuk Seri Abdullah for all the help and support he has given to the MCA thus far as Prime Minister in tackling the various challenges faced by the Chinese community specifically and also the Malaysian community on the whole. The MCA appreciates the Prime Minister’s sincerity and determination in his commitment to continue several important efforts before he retires.

Among them are the judicial reform, the reform and enhancement of anti-corruption efforts and reforming the police force.

The MCA welcomes the Prime Minister’s commitment to these important efforts and hopes that component parties will be truly involved in an effective manner to fix all current weaknesses in these three fields so that we can restore public confidence in Barisan. I previously represented MCA in raising several suggestions in Parliament on April 30, this year, on these three issues:

* MCA suggested that the Government enhance the judiciary system including setting up a Judicial Commission that is truly independent so that issues regarding the appointment and promotion of judges can be done in a transparent manner without taking into account race or religion. The Barisan government should enhance the judiciary system to restore the people’s confidence.

* The MCA hopes that efforts to curb corruption especially the restructuring of the Anti-Corruption Agency via the setting up of the Malaysia Anti-Corruption Commission will be truly effective in preventing and combating corruption. It is high time for us to act firmly without taking into account which side is involved in the corruption, be it political leaders, influential people or those in high positions. The performance and achievements of organisations such as the ICAC in Hong Kong should be used as a reference in our efforts to improve ways to combat corruption.

* Security problems and the effectiveness in combating crime is closely related with the efficiency of the police force and public awareness. The Government should have a more open attitude towards the 125 suggestions by the Royal Police Commission to create a royal police force that is more efficient, transparent, not bribeable, professional and fair. One reform that will convince the people is to reconsider the suggestion to set up the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC). Y.A.B. Datuk Seri Prime Minister and Y.A.B. Deputy Prime Minister, please act firmly in bringing changes and reforms to these three important issues that was just mentioned. The rakyat are really anticipating it. MCA will continue to be with our two leaders in making these reform efforts a success.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Malaysians of various races have sent us a strong signal through the voting trends in the results of the 12th general election on March 8. From the feedback received by the MCA, the rakyat have a negative perception towards the Barisan Nasional government in various aspects during the last general election.

Among them are:

i) They are not satisfied with the problem of corruption and misuse of power by politicians and government officers. Those entrusted to hold this trust seemed to have broken the trust of the people. There are also very negative perception towards the non-transparent manner in the awarding of government contracts and there were also leakages in the usage of government allocations when implementing development projects, acquisition or services.

ii) They feel disgusted and angry that a handful of politicians in Barisan Nasional had been arrogant and passionate in making statements or speeches that were racially-motivated or had threatened other races. There were also some politicians who became very wealthy not long after holding a party position or being made local councillors.

iii) Many people are also worried about their safety and the safety of their loved ones especially when they kept reading crime-related news like cases of snatch theft, robbery, break-ins, assault and brutal murder.

iv) The increase in the price of goods and higher cost of living following the higher fuel prices even before March 8 has inconvenienced the people especially the low and medium income earners, a group which represents the majority of our population.

v) The handling of religious issues by the authorities often portray a picture that the freedom of religion is not practised as stated by government leaders including Y.A.B. Prime Minister.

vi) Many non-bumiputra traders, entrepreneurs, developers or investors constantly feel frustrated because they feel constrained and not being treated fairly by certain ministries, departments or government agencies in the issuance of licences, permits, loans or tender opportunities.

The relevant authorities seem to enjoy using excuses of government economic policies based on prejudicial interpretation and narrow-minded thinking.

In this event, the MCA has corrected several issues at the Cabinet level or through discussions with the Y.A.B. Prime Minister or Y.A.B. Deputy Prime Minister. Among the examples are the relaxing of government procurement and services policy to enable non-bumiputras to participate in the activities for limits below RM50,000 per item and to prevent the authorities from attempting to impose guidelines to curb foreign investment in the distributive trade.

If we want to ensure that our country’s economy grows at a satisfactory rate, we must ensure that all traders, entrepreneurs and investors, small or big, are able to participate in all sectors in the economic development of our country. The implementation of an affirmative economic policy should be based on a principle that does not sideline others and it should be done by making the economic cake bigger and by encouraging joint ventures between races.

The implementation of this policy should not limit any trader or investor who tries to expand their business or investment based on success achieved by their own efforts.

The Barisan Nasional government should re-look and re-evaluate the various weaknesses or misappropriation in the implementation of the economic policy which is different than what was promised to our multi-racial community. It is time the Government liberalised the economic policy to make Malaysia truly competitive.

vii) The issue of building new SJK (C) and the lack of development allocation for SJK (C), SJK (T) and mission schools have also been raised by the Chinese and Indian communities all this while. Before the general election on March 8, 2008, the Government had approved the building of six new SJK (C) and the relocation of 13 SJK (C).

Recently, the MCA suggested that the Government fund the construction costs and rebuild these SJK(C) as soon as possible. Besides that, the MCA also suggested that the Government institutionalise the building of new SJK (C) where needed and to always provide sufficient allocation.

There are other matters that I do not have the time to raise one by one. Actually, all the issues I have raised above are issues that had caused the loss of votes for Barisan Nasional in the last general election.

What is worrying the MCA party is that although we have raised these issues many times to be addressed by the Government, the solution has not reached a satisfactory level. The situation is worsened when the public have the perception that the power sharing within Barisan Nasional is actually not effective or fair.

Umno is seen as a party that is far more dominant than other component parties. The Barisan Nasional leadership needs to fix this situation through a practice that includes the involvement of component parties when making all important decisions and not for it to be seen as if Umno is the only party that decides on important policies and other parties are only asked to defend it later in the spirit of Barisan Nasional.

The power sharing slogan that is often spoken of is still seen as a mouthed slogan only. I have led MCA for almost five years and five months. The MCA central committee members and I have worked tirelessly and have discussed these important issues for at least five to six hours during each of our meetings.

Many MCA presidential council meetings have also been held to focus attention on issues that are not only related to the important rights of the Chinese community but also related to many universal issues that the non-Chinese are paying attention to. We have tried our best to tackle various issues but as long as there is no solution that convinces the people, then we will not get their support.

Y.A.B. Prime Minister, I still remember two days after I made the announcement not to defend my position as MCA president, I went to see Y.A.B. Datuk Seri to inform you of my decision as a sign of respect. In that meeting, Y.A.B. said that when I no longer hold the position as MCA president, I will be able to hear more feedback from the common people and I was asked by Y.A.B. to keep him informed of the people’s voice. I wish to state here that what I have touched on just now is really the feedback that I heard from the people. I did not even have to wait until I have stopped being the MCA president.

Actually, in the last seven months or so, my daily life is like an ordinary person, that is without any protocol or being escorted by bodyguards or security guards. I am always eating and drinking in the same table and breathing together with ordinary people so much so that they are not shy to express their feelings to me. All of us in Barisan Nasional must seriously consider the people’s grouses and act effectively to bring about changes.

Barisan Nasional must change before we are changed or replaced. After the March 8 general election until now, the people’s perception has yet to recover and Barisan Nasional reforms have yet to show evident results. Half-truth political criticisms have confused the rakyat and have raised many questions. The recent use of the ISA on those who did not jeopardise the country’s safety has also brought a very negative effect towards the Government. MCA suggests that the Government re-look the ISA in a comprehensive manner.

Meanwhile, the use of the ISA that does not follow the objective of the original drafting of the Act should be stopped. This Act is long behind time. It should be replaced by an Act that is not easily misused or causes the people to feel unsafe. The United States’ financial crisis and its economic effect has not only greatly impacted the world economy but can also bring about side effects to us.

Barisan Nasional cannot wait or act slowly. We need to reduce political squabbling in Barisan Nasional or within the country. The people are tired and fed up with the tricks and politicking that they read and watch in the media every day.

The Barisan Nasional leadership must join forces in providing a more focused leadership and clear direction as well as to be seen as firm and effective in tackling economic challenges and all of its side effects.

Barisan Nasional must also involve experts or professionals and experienced industry representatives to meet and brainstorm ideas so that an action plan can be formulated in a quick and accurate manner. We need to immediately stop giving any government contract or projects through direct negotiations to companies with no solid track record, we need to stop all form of leakages and wastage of government funds and to be thrifty when the Government uses taxpayers money.

The economic policy has to be further liberalised and the equity condition that limits expansion should be scrapped to enable companies in Malaysia to become more competitive especially given the very challenging economic situation at present. The Government must re-study the policy on the giving of APs, subsidy and price control.

In this context, open market competition should be allowed and at the same time, the Government must channel the appropriate source to the lower income group to ensure they benefit from the expanding economy and are not left out of the country’s economic wealth.

A healthy political culture

Malaysians of all races now want to see a ruling party that is truly clean and trustworthy. The Federal Government formed by Barisan Nasional parties must not only be seen as corrupt-free and trustworthy but it must also be really clean and sincere in its practices and actions.

To successfully restore the image and to give new hope to the people of Malaysia, we need to start by changing and reforming within the component parties of Barisan Nasional, especially parties that are the pillars of Barisan Nasional - that is Umno, MCA and other influential parties.

MCA’s leadership in the last several years have tried to practice a healthy political culture within the party. A healthy political culture is a culture that is free from corruption and one of integrity.

Therefore, I place high hopes that this spirit of a clean and healthy political culture will be strongly supported by all MCA delegates. I am confident that the delegates will realise that any form of unhealthy campaigning such as money politics, twisting of facts and the use of dirty tactics by defaming or hitting below the belt are methods that can damage the party and should be strongly rejected without a doubt.

Today, all MCA members are placing hope on the delegates to choose a leadership team that is of calibre, integrity, trustworthy, dedicated, honest, effective and one that constantly holds on to pure values.

The leadership team that will be chosen has to shoulder a huge responsibility in bringing changes to face the current political challenges that is so complex and not easy.

Thus, the central committee that will be formed must always be united and be able to work well with one another. MCA no longer has the time or space for internal conflicts and bickering within the party given that we are in a political situation that is most challenging.

Click here to read more of Chen Chow's posts

Would encourage any of my blog readers to share with me any event that you come across. As long as the event/activity/initiative is education/charity/youth oriented and is not-for-profit, I would be more than happy to post it to share!

No comments: