After a turbulent 2002 for the MCA, what is in store for the party in 2003? FOONG PEK YEE spoke to party president Datuk Seri Dr Ling Liong Sik on New Year's eve to find out.
Q: After a turbulent 2002, what do you expect will happen this year?
A: Problems and challenges will always be there. However, a Chinese word wei qi (meaning dangerous situation) became a constant source of encouragement for me to face the adversities. Wei in Chinese means dangerous while qi means opportunities.
Whenever we face a crisis, we must be prepared to discuss and learn from others who are more experienced than us. From there we can turn adversities into opportunities to forge ahead.
Q: How is the situation in the party now?
A: We faced many challenges but we managed to overcome them. On the ground things are stabilising. We will focus on the development of Kolej Tunku Abdul Rahman (KTAR) and Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman (Utar). The vast majority of party members has seen the constructive and positive agenda, and more and more of them will discard the destructive and negative agenda.
I am confident that 2003 will be another productive year and definitely more stable than the past three years.
Q: What is the situation on the ground?
A: I am happy that feedback shows that the community likes what we have been doing in handling issues directly affecting them, like striking a “productive and win-win” compromise in the use of English to teach Mathematics and Science in Chinese primary schools.
Utar also gets all-round support from the people and there is no feedback to show otherwise. Since the Government’s approval on the setting up of Utar in July 2001, all of us have worked very hard until it opened its doors for the first intake last June. This was followed by the inaugural lecture by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Mahathir Mohamad to the students in August.
I would also like to again thank the Prime Minister for his peace formula and all his support in helping the MCA to overcome problems of the party elections last year, paving way for us to move forward in the next three years.
Q: Which event last year was the most significant to you?
A: The setting up of Utar is most significant to me because it is also a 33-year-old dream of the party and community. Turning it into a reality is in fact most satisfying in my entire political career. It completes the party’s education agenda, from the level of kindergartens to primary schools, KTAR and Utar now. In fact the many people, including renowned academicians like Prof Wang Gungwu, who have consented to help us to shape Utar, speaks volumes for Utar.
Q: What are the sad events last year which you remember?
A: None. In life we must know how to put bad experiences behind, look forward and remember pleasant things. Life will be better then and we can move forward and contribute to the betterment of everybody. We must learn and focus on how to make today better than yesterday and tomorrow better than today.
Q: What about the case of the two Penang assemblymen who have been suspended indefinitely from the MCA?
A: The MCA was presented with a disciplinary problem and we had to refer to the party constitution which states that such a case has to be handled by its disciplinary board. The five-member board comprises party veterans who have a lot of experience and wisdom to handle it. They have decided and recommended indefinite suspension and we (presidential council) have accepted it in total.
As far as the constitution is concerned, we have upheld our responsibility. Yesterday (Dec 30) was the last day for them to appeal against the council’s decision but they did not submit any appeal. This means both of them had accepted and respected the decision. Any other party will do the same thing if faced with such a situation, meaning that they will follow their respective constitution.
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