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KUALA LUMPUR: The MCA is set to celebrate its 63rd anniversary tomorrow, with renewed optimism of regaining support from the Chinese community.
The optimism stems from the recent debate between its president, Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek, and DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng, which some believe has somewhat restored the party's pride and dignity.
"We are all highly spirited after the debate. This is something new for the MCA. (It's) very rare that the MCA leader takes the bull by the horns. It is very much a shot in the arm," said MCA central committee member Datuk Ti Lian Ker.
He told Bernama the situation is much different from before, when the party was locked in infighting and internal tussles, with morale among the members very low following the huge defeat in the last general election, in 2008.
"All this while, we lost in the battle of perception. But now, at least we can regain some position as the members are more prepared to face the election," he said.
Many still wonder whether the debate will have such a tremendous impact on the party.
Kedah MCA chairman Datuk Chong It Chew explained that the debate was not just about regaining the sense of pride among party members. It boosted their confidence, and many MCA leaders now are more than willing to accept any challenge for a debate.
"This seldom happens in the MCA. Now, everywhere, anytime, we are prepared.
The debate has given us confidence, where we can bring up the problems faced by the opposition in the states ruled by them.
"Before this, MCA and Gerakan were always on the defensive. But now, we are on the attack. The atmosphere is different. As an example, in Kedah, we are the
opposition. Therefore, with renewed spirit and a sense of pride, we are ready for the battle," he told Bernama.
He said many among the party grassroots have learned from the way Dr Chua put up his argument to expose the "deception" tactics adopted by the DAP in
championing their achievement in Penang, when the party itself could not influence the other states under the opposition pact in adopting a similar model.
Loh Seng Kok, another MCA Central Committee member, explained that there are other factors that have lately boosted the morale of party members.
He said the recent decision by the party’s top leadership to give a token sum of RM100 to all members aged 60 and above, and RM200 to all party members or
their wives after delivery, has somehow also boosted the morale of party members.
He said the RM100 "ang pow" was to show the party's appreciation for their contribution, as currently there are about 300,000 senior members who have been with the MCA for more than 30 years.
"All this has made the members feel they are being appreciated. It has boosted the members’ spirit at the grassroots level, especially their sense of belonging," he said.
MCA veteran leader and Selangor BN publicity chief Datuk Yap Pian Hon also pointed out that the MCA, in the past few years, has improved its service to the
people by offering scholarships to the needy and setting up the 1MCA Medical Fund.
"This really helps a lot, especially for ordinary people and those who can’t afford the bill," he said.
As the party celebrates its 63 years of political struggle, he said, there is a need for the party to undergo changes in order to make sure it stays
relevant to the community.
"MCA has played its role in nation-building with other component parties.
However, after the 2008 general election, the political trend has changed much and MCA must keep up with those changes," he said.
Yap said the MCA cannot just emphasise its role in nation building and tell the people to appreciate what the party has done for the community.
"I believe the MCA is still relevant. However, the party still needs to reform, change its style, attitude and approach. If it does not, I'm worried it
might not be relevant in the future," he said. - Bernama