Speech by YB Datin Paduka CHEW MEI FUN,
Chairman of Selangor Wanita MCA
at the 34th ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING of Delegates of Selangor Wanita MCA on 12th July, 2009, at 13th Floor, Wisma MCA
First and foremost, I would like to warmly welcome our comrades, sisters and friends of the media for your attendance to our annual general meeting of delegates. I would like to thank our Secretary General and Selangor State Liaison Committee Chairman, and President of Dewan Negara, YB Senator Wong Foon Meng for taking time off to officiate this meeting. Let us put our hands together to congratulate YB Datuk Wong for his appointment as the President of Dewan Negara on 7th July.
Fellow comrades, in the last 16 months, comrades at MCA continued to endure public indignation after the general election. It was a very difficult and trying period for both the BN and MCA as we were blamed for anything we did. However, despite the grave challenges, our members remain undaunted!
We did not face our loss of the power in the State with pessimism. Instead we continue to actively carry out various programmes and activities because we know that MCA, a 60-year old political party, has a solid foundation. But whether we can return to the mainstream in the political arena depends largely on our ability to recover from defeat or our courage and fighting spirit. As long as we are decisive to carry out reforms, innovations and remain steadfast, we shall prevail and will be back in power.
Although the taking of office by the new Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak did not create the intended response and effects similar to those when previous Prime Ministers firstly assumed office, his steady and pragmatic approach; his brainchild the 1 Malaysia concept and a recent series of liberalization and democratic measures announced by him has seen an increase to his approval rating to 65% from 45% in May this year. These positive initiatives by the Prime Minister coupled with intensifying internal conflicts of Pakatan Rakyat, which has merely been in power for slightly more than a year yet continues to claim only credit and passes the buck, exploits various issues, instigates public emotions, and disregards the economic welfare of the people as if it is still in the opposition in addition to an array of policy blunders by the Pakatan, have led wise Malaysians to begin to appreciate the sincerity of BN in implementing reforms and Pakatan’s pan politicalization and irresponsibility. They now realize the importance of giving a fair platform to both BN and Pakatan to compete for public opinion. They now realize that giving a biased support to Pakatan can only lead to its complacence while taking the BN to task for everything it does is detrimental to the nation’s democratic development. In fact, the ruling party and the opposition can exercise mutual supervision and check and balance against each other.
EMBRACING THE E-ERA AND REGAINING OUR VOICE IN CYBERSPACE
In other words, the honeymoon of Pakatan is over. The time for people to be realistic and practical has come. I would like to call upon all Wanita members to review and dispose of the role they used to play as part of the ruling coalition as soon as possible and change their attitude where they used to leave it to their male comrades to express their views and represent their voices. Instead, they should actively play their role as an opposition party and closely monitor the policy and actions of Pakatan by speaking out loudly and clearly without fear or favour. In addition, we should fully embrace the arrival of the e-Era by making full use of the cyberspace to create personal blogs to express our views and tell the truth in addition to rebutting lies, distortions and sensational postings in certain blogs so as to turn the tide of the publicity war in the cyberspace, in which we are still disadvantaged, to our favour and regain our say by revealing the truth and communicating the good policies introduced by BN to the public.
SEIZING OPPORTUNITIES IN A CRISIS
Fellow delegates, leaders of the Pakatan state governments are infamous for their preoccupation with personal political interest and gain. Immediately after coming to power in several state governments, they soon displayed their excellent skills by acting like rugby players which are even superior to star players of the Manchester United soccer team. Just like rugby players in the field they would dearly hold on to any piece of good news, even though it was a leftover achievement by the previous BN government, and try to pass it on to their teammates to maximize its political mileage until they touch down over the goal line and score. But whenever they are faced with any tricky issue, they would make a 180 degree change and conveniently kick the ball to the court of the previous BN government. This trick has been repeatedly used by Pakatan after the March 8 general election. But now the Rakyat have seen the true colours of Pakatan and will no longer buy it！
Life under the Pakatan rule is not a bed of roses as anticipated by many voters. Recently, when speaking at the 29th Anniversary Dinner of the South Johor Hawkers Association, the president of the Malaysian Federation of Petty Traders Associations Datuk Ghai Soo Ming complained that hawkers and petty traders in Selangor are now in a much more difficult situation since the Pakatan government came into power. During its election campaign, the CAT government in Penang led by Lim Guan Eng promised to resolve the land issue for the villagers of Kampung Buah Pala. But sadly, after the election, the buck was passed to the previous BN government. But the residents no long buy it.
Lim claimed that his Penang state government is a government of Credibility, Accountability and Transparency, or CAT in short. But he did not have the guts to face the lawyers and residents of Kampung Buah Pala over the land issue. He only allowed five residents to see him without the presence of their lawyers. May be he thought that it would be easier for him to convince the five residents than their lawyers and also for him to pass the buck to others again！
On the other hand, the frankness of Parti Keadilan is equally shocking. As reported in the press, PKR Seberang Prai Municipal Council (MPSP) whip Johari Kassim who was sacked by the Penang government for boycotting the swearing-in ceremony of former North Seberang Prai district officer Mokhtar Mohd Jait as new council president, has openly apologized to Lim Guan Eng just because he wanted to save his post as the PKR whip and councilor of the Seberang Prai Municipal Council. He said in a statement that he decided to apologise for his personal criticisms against the Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng after taking into consideration the people’s and Pakatan Rakyat’s interest and Anwar’s struggle for justice. Fellow delegates, as we can clearly see from such an important statement, the core objective of the struggle of Parti Keadilan appears to be for Anwar only. Obviously, they believe that the people’s interest must be based on the victory of Anwar. From this, we can see how Parti Keadilan idolizes Anwar, and this is extremely dangerous.
Fellow delegates, as we know, PAS champions the cause of Islam while Parti Keadilan struggles for Anwar, and the DAP struggles for pan politics. I wonder who in Pakatan Rakyat truly struggles for the people and the nation？
In the past, a substantial number of Chinese voters traditionally supported the opposition in their belief of the need to exercise political check and balance. As a result, MCA was subjected to intense pressure in Chinese-dominated constituencies. But whether such opposition-biased belief has changed after the opposition gained power in several states and getting the opportunity for them to prove themselves and allowing the people to compare Pakatan’s performance with the past record of BN government? Personally, I am optimistic. I think that this is the time for us to turn a crisis into an opportunity. When the assemblymen and assemblywomen under-perform, our dedicated and tireless service to the people will be appreciated.
POLICY-GUIDED AND PROFESSIONAL POLITICAL PARTICIPATION
Fellow delegates, to advance we need a clear direction and goal. We need to put our strategy to work and we need strategic approaches to do that. We can only bring hope to the people when we innovate and reform！
The theme for this year’s Annual General Meeting of Delegates of MCA Wanita Selangor is “Policy-Guided and Professional Political Participation” which forms part of the 7 Objectives and 5-Point Action Plan advocated by the National Wanita MCA. The object of this theme is to highlight the direction of political struggle as follows：
As a political party we must return to the origins of our political struggle;
As the leading body for 22 Divisions State Wanita MCA, MCA Wanita Selangor shall actively take interest in state and national policies- to be aware, to deliberate, to initiate or implement national policies;
As part of a multi-ethnic nation, we must care for all the citizens of Malaysia and break down any racial political barrier; and
We must face up to the challenges in a rapidly changing information age and to progress, we need to be professional, factual and pragmatic in our political debate and deliberation.
REMARKABLE ACHIEVEMENTS BY THE POLITICAL STRATEGY BUREAU OF WANITA MCA
In line with the overall objective of the Policy-Guided and Professional Political Participation, the National Wanita MCA immediately formed the Political Strategy Bureau after the new committee was elected last year. The Bureau has carried out studies and deliberated on various issues concerning women’s rights and has taken effective actions to rectify and safeguard rights for women. In addition, it has over a short span of 9 months, expressed the views of Wanita MCA on a range of national issues and has addressed several issues and in the process of addressing some issues：
The recognition of the Malaysian Women Tourist Guides Association by the Ministry of Tourism, allowing its members to renew their licenses without being affiliated to the Malaysian Tourist Guide Council which had rejected their application as an affiliate member;
The stern policy announced by the Tourism Minister YB Dato’ Seri Dr. Ng Yen Yen that licenses of travel agencies will be revoked if they continue to require women tourist guide/tour leaders to share the same room with their male colleagues while on tour;
According to a reliable source, prohibition on the use of sexist and gender discriminatory language in Parliament by the Dewan Rakyat Proceedings Regulations Subcommittee chaired by the Speaker and the prohibition will be integrated into the existing Standing Orders upon the approval by the Dewan Rakyat;
Consent of the past President of the Dewan Negara to amend the Standing Orders to safeguard the image of the Parliament and the dignity of members of Parliament of both genders. We believe this amendment will soon materialize following the appointment of MCA Secretary General Y B Senator Dato’ Wong Foon Meng as the new President of Dewan Negara；
Active participation and initiative with party leaders and non-government organizations on the proposed amendments to the Law Reform (Marriage and Divorce) Act 1976 to ensure that such amendments will not affect the rights of non-converting spouse, children and family members when a spouse convert to Islam; and
The organization of a seminar on The Rights of Foreign Spouses which was actively participated by non-government ogranisations and the on-going preparation of a memorandum to the Ministry of Home Affairs to comprising recommendations which includes amendments to relevant legislations to safeguard rights of foreign spouses and their children in Malaysia.
When we fully complete the above tasks, we will call for a meeting with child care centre operators to discuss how district and municipal councils could simplify and standardize the regulations governing child care centres and resolve the issue of exorbitant license fees imposed upon child care centres. This would help address the social issue revolving the shortage of child care centres and reduce the over-reliance on foreign maids. Upon completion of this Memorandum to relevant authorities, we will organise meetings with child care centre operators in all states so as to pool our resources and strength to present to relevant district and municipal councils with proposal on improving the current situation and ensuring prompt implementation of our recommendations.
RECOGNISING DEGREES IN CHINESE STUDIES FROM CHINA AND TAIWAN AND UNIFIED EXAMINATION CERTIFICATE OF INDEPENDENT SCHOOLS TO OVERCOME SHORTAGE OF TEACHERS
Fellow delegates, with regard to the recent June intake of Chinese studies university graduates who intend to teach in Chinese schools upon graduation from the Teacher Training Programme for Postgraduates (KPLI) were yet again arbitrarily placed by the Ministry of Education into National Schools (BCSK) and the shortage of over 30 lecturers in the teacher training colleges all over the country, we hope the government could recognize the seriousness of the situation and take immediate and effective measures to resolve this long outstanding issue.
I believe the reason for the arbitrary placement of university graduates of Chinese studies enrolled under the Teacher Training Programme for Postgraduates (KPLI) by the Ministry of Education into National Schools (BCSK) was that both the Chinese Primary Schools and National Primary Schools are facing immense shortage of Chinese language teachers. The incident of “teachers’ pinching” between Chinese Primary Schools and National Primary Schools happened because graduates in Chinese language from teacher training colleges are inadequate to meet the demand for such teachers. The shortage of Chinese language lecturers in teachers training college will further aggravate the problem.
In light of the foregoing, we call upon the government to expedite the recognition of degrees in Chinese studies from China and Taiwan to help resolve the shortage of lecturers in Chinese Language in teacher training colleges as well as recognize the Unified Examination Certificate of Chinese independent secondary schools in order to attract more students to apply for teachers training.
OBJECT THE TEACHING OF MATHEMATICS AND SCIENCE BY BAHASA MALAYSIA IN SECONDARY SCHOOLS
On the topic of teaching of the subjects of mathematics and science in English, we welcome the recent decision of the government to resume the teaching of mathematics and science in national primary schools in Bahasa Malaysia and mother tongue in Chinese primary schools. However, we have reservation about the use of Bahasa Malaysia to teach mathematics and science in secondary schools. We hope the Ministry of Education could review this decision to avoid any problem of adaptation faced by year one secondary students who are now learning mathematics and science taught in English when the language swap takes effect in 2012 as well as to avoid the problem of language continuity when secondary students proceed to tertiary education which is generally taught in English.
LEARNING THE LESSON FROM THE ZAKARIA PALACE FARCE AND ERADICATING CORRUPTION
Fellow Delegates, while our memory on the infamous Istana Zakaria built by the late Port Klang assemblyman Datuk Zakaria Md Deros is still fresh, another controversy has taken place over Datuk Seri Dr Mohd Khir Toyo, the former Selangor Menteri Besar ’s brand-new palatial mansion. We hope that the BN government could view this matter seriously and make a clear stand to wipe out corruption by carrying out an internal investigation and taking firm action if any corruption is proven in order not to allow a bad apple to spoil the rest.
PARTY LEVELS ENTRUSTED WITH SPECIFIC DUTIES AND FUNCTIONS
Fellow delegates, our party is structured into various levels at the branch, divisional, state and central. Each level is entrusted with specific roles and functions in carrying out respective duties: community relations and services as the main axis at grass root level; while the participation in state and national policy making forms the main axis of State and national party setups.
Looking forward to years ahead, MCA Wanita Selangor will intensify its monitoring over the Selangor state government while complementing the National Wanita in promoting various policies. In addition, it will fully support efforts to recruit more members and continue to uplift its standard of service to empower underprivileged women and children. It will assist the Party to set up more para-counseling centres in the various states across the nation and continue to organise courses in implementing the Life Long Learning campaign for the community. In a continuous effort to breakdown any racial barrier and promote the spirit of an extended family among all Malaysians, we will encourage all divisions to organise community programmes and activities which are open to all races. We hope to regain the people’s support and approval with a series of innovations and transformations, and by working with the party’s central leadership to work for political rights, economic development and racial harmony and the 1Malaysia democratic policy advocated by the Prime Minister.
Fellow delegates, in another two to three years, we will be facing the next general election. We, therefore, must remain united and systematically uplift our service quality, strengthen grass-root organization and linkages, sincerely rally the support of the rakyat with a brand new image and strategy, and go all out to reinforce our existing seats in the Parliament so that we can effectively launch an offensive to recapture the seats which we lost in the last election.
Thank you very much and I wish you good health and happiness.
 Sin Chew Jit Poh 7 July 2009, pg 7