Opening Speech At MCA 65th AGM

December 2, 2018 at 9:55 pm

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MCA 65th Meeting of the Annual General Assembly
Speech by Outgoing President Dato’ Sri Liow Tiong Lai

Good day my dear comrades, welcome to the MCA 65th Meeting of the Annual General Assembly today.

MCA, having completed the party election last month, I would like to extend my heartiest congratulations and offer my prayers to the new leadership whom divisional delegates had voted in. I am pleased to note that the entire election process proceeded smoothly in an open, democratic and peaceful manner.

As the outgoing President, this could be the last time I am standing on this stage to address you. It is heart-warming to see our comrades making an effort to be here for this AGM today with unity and high spirits, considering that MCA is faced with multiple challenges now. Your love and loyalty towards MCA, are indeed the key ingredients for our party’s survival. God bless MCA.

Chinese hero Lin Zexu in his poem more than 100 years ago, stated that national survival must prevail over personal gain or loss. I have more or less the same feeling right now. Why must MCA continue to exist? Because it is everybody’s duty to ensure the survival of our race! MCA places racial and national interests above all else. For instance, we vehemently opposed the proposed amendments to the Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act (Act 355) with the clear conscience of wanting to safeguard our secular-based multi-culturalism, and we will never abandon our principles for fear of misunderstanding and losing out on Malay votes.

5 years of transformation bearing fruits

Dear comrades, this AGM is my first after relinquishing the presidency, and the first for the new leadership, too. We used to say, study the past to understand the future. Therefore, first of all, let us summarise our works for the past 5 years. The hard work and continuous push for transformation on the part of the previous leadership are now blooming and bearing fruits.

We have carried out party organisational restructuring and election reform, and successfully contacted 550,000 members; we adopted the Expanded Delegates System for the very first time and allowed over 30,000 divisional delegates to elect the new central leadership; and we had also empowered our Youth and Wanita, by way of increasing their representation, symbolising a big step forward for democracy within MCA.

In the meantime, we set up a Party Asset Committee to manage MCA’s assets professionally and transparently, and have since successfully repaid all of our debts, making our financial standing healthy and stable. The successful listing of Matang Holdings marks yet another achievement of a long-term goal. Besides these, Koperasi Jaya Diri (Kojadi) and Koperasi Serbaguna Malaysia (KSM) continue to grow and give back to society. Educational institutions under MCA also continue with their mission to churn out talents: TAR UC continues to provide quality higher education with affordable fees, and has completed the constructions of its branch campuses in Pahang and Sabah; UTAR repeatedly produces good results and is internationally recognised; Institut Kojadi has transformed into Institut VTAR and is growing from strength to strength.

Fighting for the rights of the Chinese community in Cabinet

In 2014, MCA was back in the Cabinet. The Cabinet being the highest decision-making body, was the best platform for us as the then ruling partner to voice out for the Chinese community. We steadfastly and factually fought our cases. We put our feet down to vehemently oppose PAS’ proposed amendments to Act 355. We gathered all forces to safeguard Malaysia’s plural and moderate political system.

We responded to the needs of local Chinese communities and approved the construction of 10 new and 6 relocated SJKCs. We allocated RM50 million annually for SJKCs, as special grants for school repairs and development. We increased allocation for Chinese new villages, and pushed for the new village urbanisation program. Within four years, we have disbursed RM200 million worth of loans for Chinese small and medium industries (SMEs), managed by Kojadi, beside setting up the Secretariat for the Advancement of Malaysian Entrepreneurs (SAME) at the Prime Minister’s Department, to comprehensively assist Chinese SMEs in funding issues.

Party diplomacy, international connectivity

Also in 2014, MCA signed a memorandum of co-operation with the Communist Party of China (CPC), resulting in the frequent exchange of top leaders from both parties, and a lot had been achieved especially in terms of cadre training and think tank co-operation, including: the Belt and Road (OBOR) Summit, OBOR Malaysia-China Culture and Arts Year, MCA Belt and Road Centre (MBRACE), MCA Central Committee Study Tour in China, co-operation with Shanghai Academy of Social Science, China Executive Leadership Academy, Pudong (CELAP) and others. We have also successfully led the signing of Malaysian Chinese Belt and Road Declaration, making Malaysia the first to have initiated such a Declaration. MCA is also a member of the permanent committee of the International Conference of Asian Political Parties (ICAPP), an organisation involving 37 political parties from 23 nations.

Hard work must go on, comrades

However, my dear comrades, for MCA’s reform to be completed, there is still a very long way to go. Even though our efforts for the past 5 years were all for the benefit of the nation and people that none of us will regret, our biggest setback was our inability to convert the results of our transformation into ballots, or more precisely, into votes for MCA, and this is one of the factors behind our miserable failure in the 14th general elections.

I am sure, the new leadership under Datuk Seri Dr Ir Wee Ka Siong and Dato’ Dr Mah Hang Soon, will continue to push for party reform. I sincerely hope that the new leadership may learn from the past experiences and lessons and ensure that MCA’s transformation will be well accepted by the people at large and able to translate into votes. May I quote Dr Sun Yat Sen, “Reform is yet to be completed, hard work must continue, comrades,” MCA’s future and the continuous progress and deepening of its reform, lies with all of you here.

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Monitoring government and voicing out for people

Malaysia experienced its first change of government after the 14th General Election (GE14), where MCA and BN became the opposition while the opposition alliance of Pakatan Harapan took over and formed the Federal government for the first time. MCA went on to announce our ‘Balakong Declaration’, stating that we accepted the GE results and people’s judgement, vow to be an effective and constructive opposition party under the new political era, continue to voice out for the people and perform our level best in check and balance, to ensure that government policies are just and the rights of all races are protected.

The Chinese voters overwhelmingly supported and gave a strong mandate to DAP in the said GE. This is a fact we cannot deny. But this also means that, since the Chinese community had entrusted all their political strength on DAP, its expectation of the party should be just as strong. In addition, DAP today possesses 42 MPs, 6 Ministers and 6 Deputy Ministers, a level of political strength never attained by MCA before. Therefore the expectations from the Chinese community of DAP must be so much more than that of MCA. The most important point is, the Chinese community should not view its support towards DAP as natural, since it never owed DAP anything.

Change of position, change of mind-set

We strongly condemn the DAP in government today, which has repeatedly gone back against its election promises. It exhorted no more segregation between Bumiputra from non-Bumiputra, but it stands for Tun Dr Mahathir Mohammad’s Bumiputra agenda; it criticised the RM50 million SJKC development grant as being too little, but their grant today remains at the very same figure; it opposed the national car, but strongly supports Dr Mahathir’s third national car project; it questioned the reduction from RM60 million to RM30 million in matching grant for operating expenses to TAR UC, but it is zero under the PH government, providing only a RM5,5 million development grant, and DAP lawmakers all keep mum or disappear; it said it would listen to the people, but when majority of the rakyat is against the abolition of the death penalty, it goes all out to argue for the government’s decision to scrap capital punishment.

DAP’s actions or inactions, are a typical phenomenon of ‘change of position, change of mind-set’. This also shows that, there can never be a perfect political party, and we can only work through a democratic two-party system, to facilitate the healthy rivalry between both sides of the divide, where the Opposition can effectively check and balance the ruling party, ensuring that it will never dare to ignore the people’s voice. MCA being in the Opposition, is in need of support from the people.

Dear comrades, ‘grow your strength, accumulate your resources and train hard for 10 years.’ It is my sincere hopes that, all MCA comrades may produce such standards of determination and guts, and set a 10-year target to fully revitalise MCA, and return to play a role in the nation’s mainstream politics. For the Chinese community which is facing a tough and challenging future, I have this to say: ‘When you realise that nobody in the ruling coalition is taking Chinese rights and dignity seriously anymore, please do not forget, you still have MCA! Not even tens of thousands of people could stop me.’ This is MCA’s undertaking, and our instinct. We shall work our way through and overcome all obstacles and will never give up.

Race-based party, multiracial approach

Our relationship with the Chinese community, must be seriously managed by the new leadership, as MCA and the community are inseparable and mutually dependent, and this will never change. The community may have abandoned MCA, but we cannot bear to see a vacuum exists as far as protection of the rights of Chinese community is concerned, otherwise our future generation will have nobody to turn to. MCA as a race-based Chinese party, has consistently undertaken a multiracial approach since day one. Our founding mission and ideology are very simple and clear: We safeguard the rights of Chinese while joining hands with our partner parties to build up the nation. For 60 years, we actively executed our role in facilitating racial harmony and pushing for national development. MCA is the pusher and guardian for multiracial moderate politics, and our firmness in defending diversity and moderation, is second to none among all political parties.

MCA’s relationship with BN, must also be handled with care by the new leadership line-up. After the May 9 General Election, many component parties walked out and left BN with only 5 members now, the main parties being UMNO, MCA and MIC. This may seem to be a fresh political scenario, but it is only back to the situation of the foundation years of the Alliance. MCA is a founding partner of Alliance and BN. We fully comprehend the Chinese community’s perception towards UMNO, but MCA must strategise well to come out with the wisest decision. We need not rush things through, but move only after careful considerations, and strengthening MCA should be the most urgent among the important agenda.

A firm hold on the green mountain

Politics is a long march to the realisation of democracy. MCA’s struggle is none other than a battle to defend multiculturalism, moderation and the values of freedom and democracy. MCA will forever be an important force to protect the rights of the Chinese community, facilitate racial harmony, push for economic development and safeguard national peace. We have the Chinese community in our right hand and the nation in our left hand; we will fight on to protect both until the last drop of our blood.

I joined MCA upon graduation. Till today, I have no regrets. I am no different from you and other members, who have sacrificed their youth and the prime times of their life for MCA, for no other reason but the belief that MCA is a party worthy of our lifetime sacrifice, the belief that MCA is the only shelter for the Chinese, and the belief that MCA will forever fight until the end and never give up, for a better Malaysia.

Zheng Banqiao’s poem can best summarise my personal political struggle, and I share:

I grip strongly on the green mountain,
I set my root in the tough terrain;
Come whatever challenges and elements,
My determination and I remain.

United we make MCA great again

I would like to thank my mentors, for you have provided me with the opportunity to mature; I would like to thank all comrades who have supported me, you gave me energy to surge forward; I would like to thank all friends who have criticised me before, you reminded me of self-monitoring and self-improvement. I am particularly thankful to all comrades and MCA, without you, Liow Tiong Lai would be nobody.

I urge all comrades to fully support our newly minted President Datuk Seri Dr Ir Wee Ka Siong. We have no room for disunity, and no right to retreat. We can only strive forward in unity, and in unison. Together, let us make MCA great again, and bring MCA back to the political mainstream, to continue our fight for the race and nation.

My dear comrades, brothers and sisters,

‘I turn to see the place dampened by rain, let’s go, the rain may have stopped, the sun is still nowhere to be seen.’ My heart is forever with MCA, and forever with you. Mountain will be mountain, and water will continue to flow. See you again!

Thank you!