MCA’s young guns in the fight
A total of 55% of MCA candidates contesting for parliamentary seats are new faces – reflecting exactly the percentage of the Facebook and YouTube generation – who will speak the language of young voters.
IF there is a comparison for the most refreshing list of candidates, the MCA certainly tops them all for having the largest number of young faces.
Party president Datuk Seri Ong Ka Ting has taken his commitment to rejuvenate the party seriously, starting with a renewed pledge that this would be his last general election.
At 52, he is easily one of the youngest members of the Cabinet but he is sticking to his maximum three term or nine-year stay as party president. He has also gone on record to say that he would not change his mind, even if the party constitution were amended.
His deputy, Datuk Seri Chan Kong Choy, 53, said he was not seeking re-election and indicated that he was retiring from politics.
At a time when not many party leaders, either in Barisan Nasional or the Opposition, seem prepared to make way for younger talents, the two have certainly set exemplary roles. They have also made Malaysian politics credible and refreshing by their determination to keep the MCA relevant. Both have sent a strong message that no one is indispensable; they have shown that leaders come and go and it is imperative that political parties test new ground by trying out their new talent, even in the most difficult times.
For many young Malaysian voters, it has been a disappointment to see so many old faces, some in their 60s and 70s, still being fielded as candidates.
Many are already out of touch with young Malaysians, who make up more than 55% of the country’s population that are under the age of 24. On the other hand, only 4.3% of Malaysians are over 65 years old.
This time, Ong is out to ensure that his new breed of leaders speak the language of the young voters. A total of 55% of MCA candidates contesting for parliamentary seats are new faces – reflecting exactly the percentage of the Facebook and YouTube generation.
Of the 40 candidates, 12 would be making their debut while 10 are incumbent state assemblymen contesting parliamentary seats for the first time. All 22 of them make up 55% of the line-up while 16 incumbents have been retained.
Ong has wisely ensured that the seasoned leaders are not left out, given the gruelling task ahead, especially in the urban areas where the anti-establishment sentiments are strong.
But it is crucial that the MCA grassroots leaders understand and support Ong’s longterm plan. It is not only about winning seats in this general election but keeping these new faces for the years ahead. It would be meaningless to field old faces, who may be winnable, without taking into consideration the leadership of the future.
Understandably, some grassroots leaders may feel that these new faces are not tested but their support to ensure their victory is needed to produce a young generation of Malaysian leaders capable of representing the community.
Ong has taken a calculated risk, putting aside his personal interest for the larger good of the party and community with the new team.
The MCA has a good track record in education, which is a core issue of the Chinese community, from producing kindergarten teachers and providing skills to dropouts to increasing places for tertiary education, especially at Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman (UTAR). Even the hardcore opposition voters would find it hard not to acknowledge the party’s achievements which have benefited the community tremendously.
The three-term limit for the president means the MCA leader is always fighting against time to deliver for the community.
From building new Chinese schools to finding funds to support UTAR, these projects constantly need to be upgraded and financed.
The statistics show that over 90% of Chinese parents send their children to Chinese primary schools and with over 1.6 million of the community living in new villages, the MCA feels the pulse of the Chinese community of six million.
It is not just the responsibility of the MCA president but that of this new breed of MCA young guns who would eventually assume the responsibility in years to come.
They need to continue with the good work that has been done so far
Dato’ Wong Chun Wai
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