From February onwards, MCA operated a welfare lottery to raise funds to help the needy Chinese especially those forced to resettle in the over 600 new villages in the country. The new villagers lived in fear and anxiety and saw no light at the end of the tunnel. MCA helped them to rebuild their homes and used the funds collected from the lottery to solve their daily livelihood problems.On the right is an old advertisement of the MCA lottery.
On December 2, Tun Tan led an MCA delegation to submit a memorandum to the colonial government expressing the dissatisfaction of non-Malays for being neglected in the provisions of the Constitution of the Federation of Malaya.
MCA and UMNO (United Malays National Organisation) formed an Alliance to contest the Kuala Lumpur municipal elections on February 26 and subsequently local elections in 16 other municipalities over the country. The Alliance received overwhelming support and won 94 seats out of the 124 contested. MCA won 24 out of 43 seats contested. The victorious results laid a strong foundation for the tripartite Alliance to be formed later on.
On June 20, the Central Committee ( C.C.) adopted a proposal tabled by the President to alter the nature of the organisation from social welfare to political and MCA formally became a political party from this date and participated actively in the political arena.
MCA fully supported the stand taken by the Chinese educational organisations as expressed in a meeting held in the Kuala Lumpur Chinese Assembly Hall to oppose the Barnes Report on Education and the 1952 Education Act. However, the colonialist-controlled Federal Legislative Council still passed the Act on November 21. MCA and the United Chinese School Teachers’ Association and the United Chinese School Committee’s Association formed a Central Committee on Chinese Education which was to become the highest leading body on Chinese education in the country.
MCA-sponsored adult education classes were started in the new villages to provide basic education for the villagers and till the end of year, there were 1,255 such classes with tens of thousands of students.
The colonial government passed the Lottery Act on June 12 disallowing political parties from operating lottery. With the passage of the Act, MCA was compelled to stop operation of the welfare lottery and lost the source of revenue to maintain adult education classes which were subsequently closed down.
The Sino-Malay Alliance and other organisatons held the first National Convention in Kuala Lumpur on August 23 to call on the colonial government to hold general elections early to elect the government which could rightfully represent the people.
The second National Convention was held on October 11 and a resolution was passed calling for self-rule and independence. The Convention expressed dissatisfaction over the proposed number of seats allocated to elected representatives of the people.
An anti-communist self-defense force was formed by the MCA in December with over 70,000 numbers.
A Memorandum on Chinese Education was issued jointly by MCA and the Chinese educationist bodies on March 31 opposing the educational policy of the colonial government. This memorandum was historically significant and had far-reaching implications.
The three-man Alliance delegation went to England to hold talks with the colonial authority in May urging that elected representatives form the majority in the upcoming first elections to the Federal Legislative Council. The three were Tunku Abdul Rahman, Tun Razak and T.H.Tan. In the mean time, organisations all over the country echoed the call of the Alliance to hold meetings in support of the Alliance delegation.The colonial government finally conceded to the request and allowed 52 out of 98 members in the Council to be elected by the people. The colonial government would appoint seven members and five of them would be appointed after consultations with the political party whick won the most number of seats.
The government issued the 1954 Education Report at the end of the year and the people opposed it strongly. The Report suggested that pupils of various races should attend the same classes, using the same medium of instruction and textbooks. As this would alter the nature of Chinese education, MCA and the Chinese educationalist bodies opposed it vehemently and called for its abolition.
After the discontinuance of adult classes, MCA started to set up community libraries and by year-end, there were 84 such libraries to cater for the needs of the people.
MCA arranged a meeting between Alliance Chairman Tunku Abdul Rahman and leaders of the Chinese educational bodies on January 12 at the residence of Tun Tan Cheng Lock to discuss issues pertaining to the development of Chinese education. The Chinese educational bodies requested that the Alliance elections manifesto include Chinese language as the second official language of the country. In response, Tunku Abdul Rahman said that the matter was not suitable to discuss at the moment as it would cause a split in the unity of the people to fight for independence. He, however, undertook that the Alliance government would never abolish vernacular languages, culture and educational facilities.
The first general elections were held on July 27 and the Alliance won 51 out of the 52 seats of which MCA had 15 seats.
The first Alliance self-government was formed on August 2 with Tunku Abdul Rahman as the chief minister. MCA was represented by Leong Yew Koh (Health and Social Welfare Minister); H.S. Lee ( Transport Minister); Ong Yook Lin ( Telecommunications and Post Minister) and Too Joon Hin as Assistant Education Minister.
A cabinet committee was formed to examine the educational policy with Education Minister Abdul Razak as its chairman. Its report as released subsequently was called the “Razak Report”.
Chief Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman led a government delegation to hold peace talks with Malayan Communist Party leader Chin Peng with the aim of ending the emergency and working to build a new Malaya. Members of the government team included MCA President Tun Tan Cheng Lock, Alliance Secretary-general T.H. Tan, Assistant Education Minister Too Joon Hin. The talks failed as the communists refused to accept the offer from the government.
An Alliance delegation, led by Tunku Abdul Rahman went to the U.K. in January to hold independence talks with the British authority. MCA was represented by H.S. Lee. Party President Tun Tan was indisposed and could not attend. After rounds of heated and intense discussions, the British finally promised on February 5 that she would allow, under possible circumstances, Malaya to be independent by August 31, 1957.
The Razak Report on education was released in April. It suggested that Chinese primary schools be included into the national education system and emphasized that all schools should have the same curricula and sit for the same examination. It also said that the ultimate objective was to have Malay as the main medium of instruction for all schools. The Report was strongly opposed by the Chinese community and Chinese educational groups .
The Lord Reid Commission was sent to Malaya in May to assess views and formulate a draft constitution for independent Malaya. Chinese organisations submitted their memoranda asking for equal citizenship and educational rights. The tripartite Alliance submitted a memorandum to the constitutional survey commission on August 22, representing the official views of the self-rule government.
The Lord Reid Commission released its report and draft constitution on February 20. The Alliance was not happy with the draft and the Chinese community also expressed dissatisfaction over its negligence of Chinese rights. On May 9, an Alliance delegation led by Tunku Abdul Rahman went to England to negotiate on the draft constitution. MCA was represented by Ong Yoke Lin. The negotiations led to mutual consent on a draft constitution for independent Malaya.
Malaya declared independence on August 31 and Tunku Abdul Rahman became her first Prime Minister.
MCA launched a citizenship application movement and within a year, more than one million Chinese residents were given citizenship and enjoyed the rights of every citizen of this country.
Drastic changes occurred in the MCA leadership where in the party elections Dr. Lim Chong Eu defeated Tun Tan Cheng Lock with 89 votes to 67 votes to become the second party president. Too Joon Hin defeated Ong Yoke Lin to become party secretary general and Yong Pang Haw defeated Tan Siew Sin to become the party publicity chief. Tun Tan Cheng Lock later announced his retirement from politics.
MCA organised a pan-Malayan Conference of Chinese Guilds and Associations on April 26 in Ipoh and unanimously passed the “General Demand on Education by The Chinese Community”.
Party President Dr. Lim Chong Eu demanded that MCA be allocated 40 out of 104 Parliamentary seats in the coming general elections and also exerted pressure on UMNO on Chinese educational issues. Alliance Chairman and Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman rejected the demands and wanted Dr. Lim to withdraw them. Dr. Lim resigned with his supporters from the party after failing to secure unanimous support from the Central Committee and left for England for a vacation. Dr. Cheah Toon Lock was appointed acting President. (A few years later, Dr. Lim Chong Eu returned to Malaya and formed a new party to fight against the MCA.)
In the first post-independence general elections held in August, MCA contested 32 seats and won 19.