KUALA LUMPUR: Nine MCA leaders are criss-crossing the country to convince party delegates to vote them into the four vice-president posts.
The party polls will be held on Nov 4.
The only female among the nine aspirants, Datuk Ooi Siew Kim said MCA is at a crossroads and in dire need of a clear direction.
From a Penang family with four generations in the party, the lawyer said the road ahead was tough, and this called for a leadership that is capable and firm in order to mobilise the party at all levels.
“We’ve got to chart our own direction. The first step is to leave Barisan Nasional. What are we still waiting for?” asked Ooi.
“MCA used to condemn DAP for working with PAS. How about Umno working with PAS now?” she asked, stressing that the party has to be seen as one that “walks the talk”.
Umno has been openly inching towards PAS after the 14th General Election, which saw its top leaders attending the PAS Muktamar recently – a move that has heightened the call from MCA members to leave Barisan.
While Barisan lost its grip on federal power in GE14, Ummo – the largest component party – won the most number of parliamentary seats with 54. (Five of the MPs have since quit the party).
PAS won 18 seats while MCA took one.
Prior to the May 9 polls, Barisan was a strong 13-party coalition but nine parties had exited so far.
Those remaining are Umno, MCA, MIC and MyPPP.
Umno, together with PAS, may be a formidable opposition force but Ooi pointed out that it had violated the core principles of Barisan – moderation, inclusiveness and upholding the Federal Constitution.
Vice-president candidate Datuk Seri Ti Lian Ker, also a lawyer, pledged to be the spokesman for MCA and the Chinese community, which are against all forms of extremism and radicalism.
MCA, he pointed out, could only be worthy of continuous support from the average Chinese by standing up for multi-lingual, multi-cultural and multi-racialism since its formation 69 years ago.
He said assimilation in the name of nationalism was not the way forward in the new era and has been proven in neighbouring countries.
Ti, from Pahang, also highlighted the need to always uphold the Constitution in the multi-ethnic nation.
“The young, especially the millennials, are chasing the ideal where they want to be treated as Malaysians, irrespective of colour, creed or culture .
“But they may fail to see the fine line between assimilation, whereby they lose their culture, identity and tolerant co-existence,” said Ti, who pledged to continue to promote understanding on unity in diversity, which Malaysia has stood for all these years.
Another vice-president candidate, Datuk Ei Kim Hock, who said there was a need to rekindle the fighting spirit of MCA members on the ground, described the spirit as “all time low” and the new leadership has to bring it up again.
“We have to mobilise our leaders on the ground to talk to our members on what is required from them to get the party back on its feet,” said Ei, a popular grassroots leader from Selangor whose father was a founding member of the party.
On reforming and rebuilding the battered party, Ei stressed that the new leadership must be capable, confident and brave in order to mobilise the ground to move together in the same direction.
Meanwhile, vice-president candidate Datuk Lau Lee from Pahang said the party has to go back to the basics in order to start all over again.
“MCA has to regain the trust of its members and Chinese community that the party is all for them with no hidden agenda,” he said, adding that MCA’s defeat in GE14, winning one parliamentary and two state seats out of the 129 seats contested, was a clear message to the party.
Besides Ooi, Ti, Ei and Lau, the other vice-president candidates are Datuk Tan Teik Cheng from Penang, Datuk Seri Dr Lim Chin Fui (Negri Sembilan), Datuk Seri Yew Teong Look (Federal Territory), Tan Seong Lim (Selangor) and Datuk Lim Ban Hong (Malacca).