In the eighth general elections, the Barisan Nasional, which the MCA is a senior component member, faced a crucial challenge from the opposition which formed two united-fronts with the sole purpose of overthrowing the incumbent government. The opposition move however failed to win the voters’ support. When results of the polls were announced and the MCA’s seats in Parliament increased to 18. The most significant result was in Seremban where the national chairman of the DAP, Dr. Chen Man Hin was defeated by the MCA’s candidate, the second time that the top leader of DAP lost to the MCA. On the whole, the Barisan Nasional trounced the opposition and continue to govern the nation.
After the 1990 general elections, the MCA Public Services and Complaints Department was expanded to become the MCA Public Services and Complaints Bureau with Datuk Tan Chai Ho as the Chairman. Michael Chong and Mok Soon Cheong are to be responsible in running the “Public Complaints Unit” and “Government Affairs Unit” respectively. At the state level, each MCA State body formed its own Public Complaints Unit to help the public. The Bureau has solved numerous problems brought up by the people, problems related to administrative deviations in government departments; social ills; women’s problems and others. The contributions of this Bureau are duly recognized by the people and Michael Chong has become a well-known personality within and without Malaysia including immigration and police officials of certain countries especially Japan and Taiwan.
The MCA Central Cultural Bureau Chairman Datuk Loke Yuen Yow proposed that a “Chinese Cultural City” be built to preserve and develop the rich Chinese cultural heritage. The proposal received encouraging responce from the Chinese community but not amongst others. In order not to stir up another controversy, the Party decided to place the project on hold until conditions were more favourable. However, under the initiatives of this Bureau, many Chinese cultural activities were held and these activities received tremendous response from members of thepublic. The MCA also organised “Mother’s Day”; “Father’s Day” functions in efforts to create a caring and loving society besides promoting filial piety.
The Party expanded its scope of activity to Sabah this year, with the setting up of many branches.
A fund-raising campaign for the TAR College Expansion Fund was launched on March 12 by President Datuk Seri Dr. Ling Liong Sik. Through various activities, the campaign succeeded in collecting RM 30 million. With the “dollar to dollar” allocation from the government, the College received RM60 million to expand its main campus and build branch-campuses in Penang and Johore. With the expansion, the main campus would be able to take in 16,000 students and the two branches, when completed, would be able to take in 2,000 students respectively.
Another campaign of great significance was launched by President Datuk Seri Dr. Ling Liong Sik on February 22, which is called ” The Langkawi Project” with the aim of encouraging parents to adopt the right approach towards their children’s education. Six sub-committees were formed to handle different aspects of the project.
In the Party elections this year, Datuk Seri Dr. Ling Liong Sik and Datuk Lee Kim Sai were returned as President and Deputy President respectively. The four elected Vice-presidents were Datuk Lim Ah Lek, Datuk Jimmy Chua Jui Meng, Datuk Yap Pian Hon and Datuk Wong See Wah. The Youth Chairmanship went to Datuk Chan Kong Choy and Miss Teng Gaik Kwan was returned as the Chairman of the women’s section.
On September 28, MCA formed its cooperative society the Koperasi Usaha Mawah Bhd (Komawah) with the purpose to take possession of the 500,000 shares of Koperasi Jayadiri which was owned by Koperasi Serbaguna Malaysia (KSM). The move was to ensure that the controlling interest of Kojadi remains with the Party.
“The Bukit China Issue” which was a hot issue in the eighties re-emerged when the Malacca state government demanded the payment of RM 2 million of quit rent from the Cheng Hoon Temple which is the organization responsible for its affairs. After tireless efforts by Party leaders especially Datuk Lim Ah Lek, the quit rent issue was successfully settled with the state government waiving the payment. The DAP tried to politicise the issue and discredit the MCA during the course of the efforts.
The PAS-controlled Kelantan state government which came into power in 1990 implemented a series of Islamic administrative measures and its state assembly passed the Hudud Laws (Islamic Penal Code) with the aim of turning the state into an Islamic state. The MCA strongly opposed the move which it considered to be going against the interests of the multi-racial nature of the state. The MCA also demanded that the DAP apologises for its role in successfully influencing the Chinese voters in the state in 1990 to give their support to PAS which led to the party coming into power in that state.
On January 15, the Central Committee adopted a proposal from the President to enlarge the scope of qualification for membership to enable any Malaysian citizen who possesses Chinese blood-linkage, to join the Party as a full-fledged member regardless of one’s religious belief or characteristics of one’s surname/family-name. This hallmark decision has far-reaching implications as it demonstrated the Party’s liberalism and her ability to change with time. This move is also a follow-up to the party’s open-door policy.
On March 15, Party President Datuk Seri Dr. Ling announced that the Party would start a fund-raising campaign to help the 60 independent Chinese secondary schools. A special committee headed by Datuk Lim Ah Lek was given the task to mobilise the 600,000 strong membership of the Party to systematically raise funds for the schools. This campaign received overwhelming support from the Chinese community and Chinese education organisations throughout the country and succeeded in raising RM 6 million which was distributed to the various schools.
The year was designated as a “Year of Culture” by the Party and many cultural activities were organised by the various state liaison committees and divisional committees to further promote the rich cultural heritage of the country. The keen participation of the people was a clear proof of the success of these programmes.
In the ninth general elections held this year, the Party performed remarkably well by winning 30 seats in Parliament and 70 seats in the state assemblies. MCA’s parlimentary and state seats were later increased to 101 when the High Court decided that the election of DAP’s representative of Bukit Bintang was null and void and MCA’s candidate Dr. Lee Chong Beng was declared the valid candidate. With the joining of Sabah’s Chau Tet On, the MCA thus has 102 Members of Parliament and State Assemblymen. The results indicated that Chinese voters have awakened politically and realised that the Chinese have to strengthen their say in the government and that the passive political approach of the oppositions, especially the DAP could never help solve the problems faced by the community. In short, the Chinese voters have preferred the spirit of consultation to that of confrontation.
MCA resolved various issues affecting Chinese education viz-a-viz formulation of the new Education Act 1995. Through the process of consultations within MCA and with relevant educational bodies, the party had successfully repealed Section 21 (2) and removed other sensitive provisions contained in the old Act. Through negotiations and consultations within the specially set up Cabinet Committee to revamp education policies, MCA also successfully ensured the retention of SRJK (C) Board of Directors following cancellation of Section 26(A).
In the Party elections in July, Datuk Seri Dr. Ling Liong Sik was again returned as the Party’s President. Datuk Lim Ah Lek was elected as the new Deputy President when Datuk Lee Kim Sai did not seek re-election. The four elected Vice-presidents are : Datuk Jimmy Chua Jui Meng; Datuk Dr. Fong Chan Onn; Datuk Yap Pian Hon and Ong Ka Ting. Datuk Chan Kong Choy continue to lead the Youth section and Datuk Teng Gaik Kwan was returned as Wanita Chairman.
In November, the only two state assemblymen of the DAP in Negeri Sembilan. Lee Yuen Fong and Khoo Seng Hock decided to join the MCA in order to be positive and constructive in serving and helping the people. Following their decision to join the MCA, the total number of people’s representatives of MCA increased to 104.
The Party also took its first step into cyberspace with the launch of the MCA Homepage over the Internet. Riding on the new Information Technology, news, views and information relating to the Party is now available not only to the Malaysian public but to the whole world.
Significant progress was made by the Party toward its objective of cultivating a Caring and Sharing culture at all levels of its leadership. A wide range of activities undertaken by the leadership at the various levels had strong impact and contributed to the general welfare of its target groups namely in the area of education such as Chinese schools, Tunku Abdul Rahman College branch campuses, Langkawi project related activities
Through the central theme of “Touching Minds and Hearts” the MCA successfully implemented a wide range of activities aimed at building close rapport with other Chinese organisations and the voting segment. The initiation of several community projects such as “Pledge Your Computer” and “Respect Teachers” campaign was made possible with the support and collaboration of Chinese organisations such as ACCCIM and the FCAM.
Center-stage in the Party’s political affairs is the increasing role of the Wanita section leadership levels. The Party President’s proposal of a target quota of 30 percent Wanita representation in the municipal and local district councilors posts within the next 15 years, has been accepted. MCA Perak became the first state to appoint a Wanita representative as the assistant secretary of t he State Liaison Committee.
MCA’s political theme for 1998, “Together We Shall Overcome” aptly reflected all levels of the Party leadership in their determination and collective resolve in overcoming the Asian regional financial and economic turmoil which had affected our nation since July 1997. The MCA’s 1998 Action-Plan Agenda focused on grassroot activities in the form of campaigns and community projects in assisting the Barisan Nasional Government’s economic recovery measures. Prominent business community and corporate leaders enjoined their collective support in such activities to restore public confidence in the Government’s efforts. Various dialogues and forums were conducted throughout the year in ensuring the “true economic picture” was well understood by the communities at all levels so that full cooperation from them would enhance a speedy economic recovery.
On 24th February 1998, MCA President Datuk Seri Dr. Ling Liong Sik launched the “Love Malaysia, Buy Malaysian Products” website, jointly organized by MCA Youth and CY Multimedia Lab IT, with more than 60 local manufacturing companies. Thousands of local Malaysian-made products were listed and were given full publicity by major local news dailies for a period of 6 months. A series of nationwide campaigns were also conducted with full support from between 5,000 to 10,000 participating Malaysian women in various major towns in the support of purchasing local products, a measure encouraged by the Government towards economic recovery. A patriotic campaign, Love Malaysia, Buy Malaysian Product” was also launched and officiated by the Malaysian Prime Minister YAB Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad at the Dataran Merdeka in Kuala Lumpur on the 31 May, 1998.
1998 was also a significant year as MCA launched the “Convention On The Innovation and Reforms In The Chinese Community” at the Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall on the 21 March. Jointly organized by the Federation of Chinese Associations Malaysia (Huazhong), the Associated Chinese Chamber of Commerce of Malaysia (ACCCIM) and the MCA, the “Changing Of Mindsets” campaign to promote positive traditional values and working ethics such as punctuality, discipline, good etiquette, caring and sharing values were well received by the broad spectrum of the Chinese community at all levels.
MCA celebrated its 49th National Anniversary Celebrations on 8 March 1998 at the Penang International Sports Arena in Bukit Jambul. During the year, under the Party’s “Caring and Sharing” programme of activities, numerous meaningful events were organised for the benefit of the needy, aged and less fortunate. One of such illustrated events included a presentation of RM50,000 cheque to the National Council of Senior Citizens Organisations Malaysia (NASCOM) by MCA President as part of a 3-year grant in support of their activities. MCA’s gesture was to assist NASCOM in addressing the various problems faced by the ageing population.
In 1999, MCA continued its hectic and busy schedule of Party projects and community oriented activities. From 1997’s political theme, ” Touching Hearts and Minds”, the Party moved a step further to nurture “One Heart, One Mind” in 1999, organising a nationwide series of events and providing opportunities for all ordinary Malaysians of all races to express their sentiments of love for the Malaysian nation. It was a timely move by MCA to mobilise and consolidate Malaysians in garnering their collective support for the Government’s drastic economic measures for the good of the nation in the face of continuing efforts to overcome our national economic downturn. The Party’s central leadership made in no uncertain terms that it was fully committed to the Barisan Nasional Government’s efforts in bringing our economy into the path of recovery within the shortest possible time. Hence, MCA’s 50th Anniversary theme, “For The People, For The Nation”, aptly reflected the aspirations of MCA.
The MCA celebrated its 50th Anniversary Golden Jubilee at the national level with a 3-day programme of organised activities from 25 to 27 February 1999. Major highlights of the anniversary events included the launching of an MCA publication in commemoration of the MCA’s 50 years of historical contributions to nation-building and an anniversary dinner event officially graced by the Malaysian Prime Minister at the Stadium Nasional, Bukit Jalil on 25 February 1999. For the first time in MCA’s history, more than 13,000 guests comprising BN component leaders, Cabinet Ministers, State Ministers and leaders from major Chinese Associations and corporations and Party veterans attended the gala dinner event.
Memorable highlights of the celebrations included an exhibition on the Party’s history and achievements. More than 2,800 MCA leaders, members and Party veterans attended an official ceremony at Dewan San Choon, Wisma MCA, Kuala Lumpur. In his key-note speech, the MCA Party President paid tribute to the Party’s founding fathers and former Prime Ministers of Malaysia.
In the Party Elections in July, MCA Party President Dato’ Seri Dr. Ling Liong Sik, Deputy President Dato’ Lim Ah Lek and all the 25 Party’s Central Committee members were elected unopposed at the Party’s 46th Annual General Assembly for the term 1999-2002. The elected MCA Vice Presidents were: Datuk Dr. Fong Chan Onn, Dato’ Chua Jui Meng, Dato’ Seri Ong Ka Ting and Dato’ Chan Kong Choy. Datuk Ong Tee Keat and Dato’ Ng Yen Yen were newly elected as National Chairman of the Youth and Wanita wings respectively.
More than 2,400 MCA central delegates attended the 46th Annual General Assembly on July 17th, which for the first time, was attended by both the Prime Minister YAB Dato’ Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad and Deputy Prime Minister Dato’ Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi. In his presidential address, Dr. Ling remarked “the overall election results of the Party at various levels has illustrated the party grassroots’ emphasis toward unity and stability”. This was reflected by 96 per cent of new office-bearers at branch level, 75 per cent at division level including some 80 per cent at Youth and Wanita State level, being elected unopposed.
During the year, the Party had continued efforts in developing the infrastructural facilities and amenities of Tunku Abdul Rahman College (TARC) and its branch campuses. On 28th June 1999, the Penang branch campus was officially opened by Depuaty Prime Minister YAB Dato’ Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, while the former Education Minister YB Dato’ Seri Najib Tun Razak officiated the opening of the Johor TARC branch campus in July 1999.
The MCA’s “Smart School” project was launched by the Party President in August 1998, in which some 114 schools would be in the MCA-SJK© Smart school system by June 2000.
During the year, MCA Central Leadership established the “MCA-JE Humanitarian Fund” as a proactive effort to assist immediate financial assistance to pig-farmers strickened by the JE epidemic.The public fund-raising campaign officially ended on May 1999.Towards educational projects, MCA continued its various efforts toward Kojadi, TAR College Branch campuses and successfully obtained permanent registration status for all the Chinese Independent Secondary Schools nationwide. MCA also commenced its own “SMART’ School project specifically for Chinese Primary Schools. The Party’s youth and “wanita” wings also actively played a complementary role in assisting the parent MCA in numerous community oriented projects during the year under review.
In the 1999 General Elections, MCA won 28 Parliamentary and 68 State seats out of the respective 35 and 77 electoral seats contested.