KUALA LUMPUR (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - The Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA) wants Barisan Nasional, the former ruling coalition, to be dissolved.
MCA president Wee Ka Siong told reporters on Sunday (Dec 2) that the party's central committee had been authorised to pave the way for the move and to form an effective alliance. He made the remarks after the party's 65th annual general assembly at Wisma MCA.
Together with Ummo and the Malaysian Indian Congress (MIC), MCA formed the Alliance party and fought for the country's independence in 1957. In 1973, the Alliance was renamed Barisan Nasional, with other parties joining in the coalition too.
Datuk Seri Wee said the consensus by the three founding parties - Umno, MCA and MIC - was needed for the coalition's dissolution.
"MCA is grateful to the people of all ethnic groups who supported us, and would cherish the spirit of power sharing and co-existence during the early stages of Barisan's founding. We firmly believe that the sincere and united cooperation of all ethnic groups is the cornerstone of national development," Dr Wee said.
However, he said Barisan was now experiencing a serious power tilt after a long period of ruling the country. And each of the component parties needed room for self-reflection, review and reform.
"In order to revive and restart, Barisan must be disbanded with the full understanding and consensus of component parties, so that there is room for freedom in carrying out innovations and reconstruction," Dr Wee said.
He said re-establishing a political alliance can be done at an appropriate time when there is consensus in the concept and principles held.
The 69-year-old MCA is the second-largest component party in Barisan, after Umno.
The coalition, which had ruled the country since independence, lost power to Pakatan Harapan at the 14th General Election on May 9.
Barisan went into GE14 with 13 component parties. It is now down to only four - Umno, MCA, MIC and myPPP.
Barisan chairman Ahmad Zahid Hamidi has yet to comment on MCA's decision. However, an aide said the Umno president had yet to receive the news of MCA's decision.
It is understood that MCA intends to bring the matter up with Barisan Supreme Council members.
Earlier, Zahid said Barisan would respect MCA's decision.
"I have yet to receive any official decision from them (MCA) but we will respect whatever they decide to do," he said at a meeting with Barisan senators at the coalition's headquarters earlier on Sunday.
Zahid said even if MCA were to leave Barisan, the coalition had plans in place to win back Chinese votes.
"I don't want to elaborate on what these plans are but we know that not all Chinese support the party which is now part of the present government," he said in a vague reference to the Democratic Action Party (DAP).
Zahid also dropped hints at creating a more diverse alternative party, saying the people wanted one that could work well with Barisan.
However, it is not clear if this party would fill the void after MCA's departure.
Zahid also said Barisan was ready to work with other Chinese-based political parties. "There are many that are ready to work with us," he said.
MIC president S. A. Vigneswaran lauded MCA for empowering its central committee members to work on the party's decision.
"It shows that the party leadership still commands respect from the delegates, who could have just wanted the party to leave. But they are letting the party leadership decide how to start the process, including on forming a new alliance. It is a good process, where there is time to make changes," he said on Sunday.
Mr Vigneswaran said MIC would continue to work with MCA.
"MCA has been like a taiko (big brother) to MIC throughout the years," he added.
In Kota Kinabalu, MCA's move came as no surprise to Barisan's component parties there, said PBS information chief Joniston Bangkuai.
In Ipoh, Perak Barisan chairman Saarani Mohamed said no party should be forced to stay or leave the coalition. "Any relationship must be sincere and come from the heart," he said.
Perak Gerakan chairman See Tean Seng said it was hard for him to comment on the move, as they were no longer with Barisan. He, however, said other component parties should have their say on the matter.