KUALA LUMPUR (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - The rising cost of living and the widening income gap in Malaysia are what the public is most concerned about these days, said Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA) president Liow Tiong Lai at the launch of the party's election manifesto.
MCA listed specific actions to address these issues over the next five years in its manifesto, which contains 10 promises and 10 initiatives which the party must implement, Datuk Seri Liow added.
"The MCA's performance in this election will have a direct impact on the party's efforts to help the people," Mr Liow said when launching the manifesto at Wisma MCA on Sunday (April 8).
On GE14, Mr Liow said voters aged between 21 and 35 made up 45 per cent of total voters.
"The youth play an important role in the country's economic development and democracy," he said when outlining the manifesto, which focuses on steps to help the people, especially youth, to progress.
It spans education, training, jobs, business and investment opportunities.
Saying that the MCA's political struggle is for the long haul, Mr Liow assured the people that the party would not make empty promises to fish for votes.
He said it was important to not only address current issues but also to create favourable conditions for the Chinese community's youth to face new challenges.
"There will be major changes in the global economy, labour market and business.
"The digital revolution will not only encourage the growth of a new economy but also change the lifestyle of future generations. The youth of today will dominate in this major change," he said.
Saying that education is the foundation of every nation, he pointed out that the 69-year-old MCA's role in the sector has evolved to meet changing times, from pre-school to primary school, vocational training to tertiary education.
Singling out the party's 16-year-old Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman (Utar), which is ranked second in Malaysia after Universiti Malaya by Times Higher Education, he said it is in the process of setting up its teaching hospital in Kampar, Perak.
"Utar Hospital is set to be a premier healthcare institution that combines modern and complementary medicine like traditional Chinese medicine and Ayurveda," he said of the party's promise to provide accessible and quality healthcare to the rakyat.
In confronting global competition and pressure from the rising cost of living, Mr Liow said MCA promises to open up more economic opportunities, including setting up Kojadi Cooperative Bank with branches in various states to provide financing for young entrepreneurs and small to medium enterprises.
"Times have changed. While we face more challenges, we also encounter more development opportunities," he said of how the party consistently works hard to help the community brave the changing times.
On the country's 465 new villages set up by the British colonial government with MCA's help during the Emergency (1948-1960) to cut contact between the Chinese community and communists of the era, Mr Liow said those "barbed-wire" settlements have evolved over the decades.
He said MCA has drawn up plans for a digital revolution in these villages to rejuvenate them.