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Sunday December 15, 2013 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Sunday December 15, 2013 MYT 11:22:18 AM
by foong pek yee
HE has spent more than three decades as an MCA member, its staff and leader after joining the party at the age of 20.
Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai, a food science and nutrition graduate from Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, worked as a research assistant with MCA upon his graduation in 1986.
At 52, the MCA deputy president is running for presidency during the party polls this Saturday.
He shared his vision with The Star, and his plans on how to steer the party forward during an interview recently.
This is the first of three interviews with the presidential candidates.
Q: What is your vision for MCA?
A: That’s a very broad question. I shall respond from the standpoint of our immediate needs. Foremost, the party must re-examine the very reasons of its formation 64 years ago.
Back then, we had to play a critical role in integrating our community and help found a new nation. We understand the community’s fears, anxieties, hopes and aspirations.
And we took firm actions to help them. Times have changed but the founding principles of our Federal Constitution are still clear and relevant today.
With that, my vision is a strong MCA, a party united by a common goal, which is to build a better nation for all Malaysians, a truly 1Malaysia.
Q: What are the aspects you need to address to achieve your vision?
A: We have to look at serious changes in order for us to move ahead in these challenging times.
Basically, there are three areas which require our attention – intra-party reform, inter-party reform and community engagement.
All the three areas are closely related.
Intra-party reform is basically reforms within the party to optimise its functions and better governance.
Our core support from the Chinese community has dipped to 15% in the May 5 general election.
Many of our party members (about 1.1 million) did not support MCA and Barisan Nasional. We need to bring back the members’ sense of belonging to the party.
While we can understand the way the Chinese air their frustration, we should find ways for them to do so via the party and not in the general election ballot box.
As for inter-party reform, it is about strengthening MCA’s position among other parties in the country. It is my firm belief that politics must be constructive and not destructive in order for us to move forward as a nation. MCA may be a communal party, but we are definitely not a racist party.
MCA has to address issues affecting the Chinese, and the party should have a say in deciding the future of the Chinese and country.
As the second largest Barisan Nasional component party, MCA’s image of being subservient to Umno is killing MCA. All Barisan component parties should help each other and exhibit the power sharing concept, cooperation and collaboration.
On community engagement, the MCA have to communicate with, engage and serve the community efficiently and effectively. We must focus on delivery.
Q: Every candidate has victory in mind. What are your plans for your first year in office?
A: If I win, I will definitely have my work cut out for me.
The aspects that I mentioned earlier need to be translated into actions.
Change takes time and requires action and dedication on the part of leaders and members alike to make it happen.
Members must be constantly reminded that they carry with them the integrity and reputation of the party.
We also have to play an active role in the community to realise our common objectives and strive for a harmonious multi-racial nation, one with greater understanding and acceptance of one another. Our nation is specially in need of this more now than before.
Q: What are your plans for your second and third year in office?
A: The implementation of our transformation blueprint requires continuous effort and focus.
Having said that, I will, from the second year onwards, expand my focus towards building a constructive political platform which is essential for laying the foundation for the next general election. The party’s machinery must be optimised and its policies have to be clear.
This is important for tangible delivery and greater communal inclusiveness. If you want further details, you will just have to wait and see what is in store when I become the MCA president.
Q: How would you like to be judged after completing your three-year-term?
A: I prefer not to dwell on myself. The achievements of the party are paramount and what is important is how the party will be judged in three years.
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Politics, Politics, Liow, MCA polls
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