KUALA LUMPUR: The country’s flagging economy after GE14 is hurting the people, and oil palm smallholders are among the most hit, says MCA deputy president Datuk Dr Mah Hang Soon.
“They are suffering because there is a low demand for the commodity.
“The people’s decreasing spending power has also affected businesses all over,” he said, urging the Pakatan Harapan government, especially ministers and government officers, to be proactive in their job.
On Friday, MCA president Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong said palm oil factories were turning away smallholders, leaving smallholders in the lurch.
The Ayer Hitam MP said palm oil factories were doing so due to oversupply of the fruit and a lack of export demand.
He urged Primary Industries Minister Teresa Kok for proposals to resolve the issue.
There are about 500,000 oil palm smallholders in Malaysia.
On politics, Dr Mah described MCA’s big defeat in GE14 as a “short-term setback”.
The party won only one parliamentary seat and two state seats out of the 129 seats contested.
“We must neither blame anybody nor manipulate the people to fish for votes.
“We only need to continue to work hard and struggle for long-term benefits of our nation and race, and history will eventually uphold justice for us,” he said when opening the MCA Youth AGM yesterday.
While statistics showed almost 95% of the Chinese electorate had rejected MCA’s candidates for DAP and its allies with the hope of getting a better living, Dr Mah said the Pakatan Harapan government had failed the people after six months in power.
“They continue to blame the previous administration for their inability to govern. Pakatan Harapan and DAP have been busy looking for excuses to avoid responsibility,” he said.
Dr Mah also chided Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng for depriving Tunku Abdul Rahman University College (TAR UC) of matching grants under Budget 2019.
Set up and run by MCA as Tunku Abdul Rahman College in 1968 before it was upgraded to TAR UC in 2013, the institution had been able to keep tuition fees affordable to the low and middle income groups in the last 50 years because matching grants were used for operating expenses.
It had received a total of RM1.012bil in annual matching grants from the government between 1969 and 2018, and the last amount was RM30mil.
The absence of matching grants under Budget 2019 may trigger a tuition fee hike, Dr Mah said, making affordable and quality education less affordable to the people.
The institution had produced some 200,000 graduates to date, and 95% of them are Chinese of low and middle income background.
“What sin has TAR UC committed?” Dr Mah asked Lim who said he would give matching grants to the university college if it cut ties with MCA.
Separately, MCA Youth chief Nicole Wong Siaw Ting said a suggestion had been raised for Barisan Nasional to be dissolved and MCA to seek new partnership with other parties.
She said this proposal surfaced after the topic – MCA to stay on or leave Barisan? – was deliberated at the wing’s annual general assembly.
Wong said the delegates were able to voice their views freely during the two-hour closed-door meeting.
“The questions on the topic are mainly on what will happen to us if we leave Barisan and, what if we stay on. There are no definite answers as the political scenario keeps changing,” she said.
The wing eventually decided that Barisan should instead be dissolved and MCA to seek new partnership with other parties, she added.
At a press conference after the AGM yesterday, Wong said the Youth central delegates discussed several topics, mostly on the party’s direction after the 14th general election now that MCA is in the opposition.
While the call for MCA – the second largest Barisan component party – to just leave the coalition was loudest on May 10, the day after GE14, Wong said many questions on the call had cropped up over the last six months.
She said another concern raised at the AGM is “What can MCA do now that it is in the opposition”.