Change the only constant — Liow Tiong Lai

JULY 18 — What happens when you hit rock bottom?

That’s the question MCA was faced with after the party’s disappointing performance in the 13th general election.

The answer is clear: we have to pick ourselves up, learn from our mistakes and revitalise the party. The voters sent a clear sign that the party has to transform itself.

From the beginning, we decided the transformation process would be carried out systematically, through detailed implementable programmes that can effect real change.

Taking a solution-focused approach will help us to resolve the party’s problems. This requires that we look at what we are already doing that might contribute to resolving the problem as well as ask ourselves where we want to get to so that we can figure out how to get there.

Going back to basics — the party’s constitution — helps to remind us of our original objectives so that we can get back on the right path. The party’s philosophy, in a nutshell, is to provide equitable opportunities for all Malaysians and safeguard the legitimate rights of the Chinese community.

Based on this common understanding, it was determined we need to focus on four pillars to revitalise the party: restructuring the party; rediscovering our political ideologies and values; emphasising communal inclusiveness; and empowering the people.

Restructuring the party involves improving our processes and practices to rebuild a more credible party.

The next pillar is rediscovering our political ideologies and values, which I personally believe is the key to our transformation. We must remember the values that guided our founding fathers: to uphold the family institution, the Chinese language and culture, to promote health and the environment and to abide by Confucian principles.

Our core values — of accountability, fairness and justice — must also be attractive to the younger generation, who is the future of the party and the nation. Thus, we must ask ourselves, how can MCA attract youths to volunteer with the party and pledge their commitment to our cause?

The third pillar — communal inclusiveness — should see the party getting back on track to unite the Chinese and all citizens of Malaysia. MCA’s constitution and ideology has always been to protect the rights of all races in Malaysia. 

The principle of inclusiveness enables us to empower the people, through quality education, sound economic policies and social programmes. The goal is to equip people with the competitive strength to face the challenges ahead.

The transformation task force has come up with an outline for the process that we will undertake. Some of the urgent areas we need to address are organisational change, election reform, re-registration of members and selection criteria for candidates.

We need a clear road map so that we remain true to our objectives. This is not a job that the president or deputy president can do alone: MCA is not a one-man show, but a big party that belongs to the hundreds of thousands of members.

The nationwide roadshows are critical to give grassroots members the opportunity to speak honestly, without fear or favour. Different opinions and even criticisms are welcomed. If a person keeps an open mind, the voices from the Tower of Babel will start to make sense.

We are also holding dialogues with NGOs, Chinese associations, chambers of commerce and the public, as well as international seminars to learn from the practices of other countries who have successfully rejuvenated their political parties.

All this input forms the blueprint, which will be presented to members for feedback, before being debated and endorsed at the party’s annual general meeting in December.

From there, our journey towards transformation would have just begun. Do we have the courage to look within ourselves for change? From the grassroots to the top, we have to discard every bit of arrogance and learn to be humble to the community.

Most importantly, we need to work together as one party with one goal. How do we achieve this? I have always reminded others when we talk about party unity, it starts with oneself. The question should be: “How can I unite with others?” not “How can others unite with me?”

When we put individual interests aside, we will find it easier to make the right decisions for the party and the country. So, with Election Day well behind us, let us get on with our work. The people do not want excuses, they want solutions.

Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai is MP of Bentong, Pahang. In this column, he shares his personal perspective on national and community issues close to his heart. Follow him on his blog (www.liowtionglai.com/blog), or on Twitter (@liowtionglai).

* This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of The Malay Mail Online.

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