By Chua Jui Meng
I was able to read law in London by working 12 hours a day as a factory labourer, waiter and porter for nine months every year to fund my ambition to be a lawyer. Basically, I am a reformist and a democrat at heart. In 1988, while I was a young MCA Member of Parliament, I debated for two hours in Parliament, articulating my arguments over the deficiency of the New Economic Policy (NEP). I was stopped by Ibrahim Ali who successfully urged the Speaker to reprimand me for asking for equal treatment and rights for all Malaysians (http://chuajuimeng123.blogspot.com/2012/10/chua-on-nep-in-1988.html).
In July 2005, again I debated with Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin on TV3’s Exchange over the dispute on NEP’s 30% bumiputra equity target. There was much public outcry when the government maintained that it had only achieved 18.7%. I maintained that there must be something wrong with the figures or the implementation for the statistic to remain unchanged after 20 years.
I objected to the flawed implementation and distortions of the NEP. The debate was widely publicised but MCA remained silent over the NEP issues I raised.
This was followed by the then Asli researcher Dr Lim Teck Ghee who found that Malays already had at least 45% control of the equity market. The government disputed his findings and he quit (http://pgoh13.com/thinktank_manquits.php).
After the 2004 General Election, I was not reappointed a minister after I took a strong stand against MCA’s acquisition of Nanyang Holdings Bhd.
The takeover resulted in a mini-monopoly of the four national Chinese vernacular newspapers – Nanyang Siang Pau, China Press, Sin Chew Jit Poh and Guang Ming Daily News – all under the Rimbunan Hijau Group.
For not behaving as a ‘Yes Man’, I risked my position as Health Minister and was removed by Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Dr Ling Liong Sik who were in favour of seizing control of the publications to stifle the freedom of Chinese newspapers.
That’s when I expounded my theory of “fish and water”– MCA the fish, the Chinese community the water.
The water can reject the fish but the fish cannot reject the water. This means if the MCA claims that it represents the interests of the Chinese community and champions its rights, the MCA must listen to the voice of those whom they claim to champion.
I then tried my best to revitalise MCA, coming up with a very elaborate manifesto of reform for the party in my two bids for the presidency in 2005 and 2008. Unfortunately, the MCA central delegates did not heed my warnings that MCA was heading for political doom.
As far back as 2005 (or seven years ago) I could see that the Chinese tolerance level of MCA’s subservience to Umno had been breached. After the 2008 political tsunami, I even went as far as saying that MCA must be prepared to quit the Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition if Umno refuses to abandon its corrupt ways.
The rest is history and I am now here, on a new platform, to fight for justice and a fair government. De facto Pakatan Rakyat leader Anwar Ibrahim has said it clearly that he intends to do away with race-based policies to fast track Malaysia’s socio-economic growth if the rakyat (people) gives us the mandate to govern after the 13th General Election.
It is time to change. This time we must change.