KUALA LUMPUR: The amendment of MCA’s party constitution to establish an affiliate membership system so that non-Chinese can join the party is not seen as a groundbreaking move.
In fact, independent political analyst Khoo Kay Peng said the idea of associate members is a bit outdated, as Malaysians are ready to move on from race-based politics to politics that encompasses all.
“The whole dilemma with Pakatan Harapan is that it doesn’t want to move beyond race-based politics – like how Bersatu was formed – and sticking to the old Barisan Nasional formula is not going to gain traction from Malaysians,” he said yesterday.
Khoo was responding to news that MCA, during its annual general meeting, had amended its party constitution to allow non-Chinese to join the party as affiliate members.
However, as affiliate members, they are not allowed to contest in party elections or sit in party meetings.
For now, it remains unclear if they are allowed to contest as candidates in general elections.
Khoo pointed out that non-Chinese will only find joining MCA appealing if they aspire to work for MCA leaders, or if they were in government as aides to ministers.
“But for those serious in joining politics or interested in public office, they will not join as associate members, because it goes back to the old mentality again, whereby associate members cannot come into the main hall, they have to sit outside.
“If MCA turns into a Malaysian, non-racial party, then I’ll say it’s something to look at.”
USM political analyst Prof Dr Sivamurugan Pandian said MCA’s move to open up to non-Chinese is to show they are open to a more diverse membership besides maintaining their loyal members.
“You must remember that this is not a new idea.
“In 2013, then MCA vice-president Datuk Donald Lim proposed it but it was rejected.
“After that, then MCA Youth chief Datuk Chong Sin Woon also proposed the idea but there were some suggestions to open up a referendum among members to consider it,” he said yesterday.
However, he said, MCA’s loss in the 14th general election has prompted a rethink.
Meanwhile, political analyst Dr Lim Teck Ghee said the move may be seen by some as too little too late, but it is a good move.
“The big question is whether it is likely to sway many voters towards the party for the 15th general election.”
He said all political parties need to move away from their racial identification and towards inclusive politics and the espousal of liberal democratic values if the nation is to progress.
“Many Malaysians, especially the young and East Malaysians, will respond favourably to multi-racial parties.
“But it must be matched by action that can transcend the ethno-religious ideology fostered by the leading racial parties since Merdeka.
“This includes parties from both sides of the political divide.”