Posted: 22 Apr 2011 12:05 AM PDT
DAP dares MCA to dissolve and call for Najib's resignation
By Clara Chooi April 21, 2011
KUALA LUMPUR, April 21 — The DAP challenged MCA leaders today to dissolve their party or call on the prime minister to resign should he lose Chinese community support in the coming general election.
DAP adviser Lim Kit Siang charged that the MCA was being hypocritical in calling for Sarawak Chief Minister Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud's resignation due to his failure to deliver the Chinese vote last week, pointing out that the MCA itself had performed no better in Election 2008.
In the Sarawak state polls last Saturday, Barisan Nasional (BN) lost 16 seats to the opposition, most of them Chinese-majority urban seats.
In Election 2008, MCA suffered its worst ever electoral defeat when it saw its parliamentary representation cut by more than half from 31 to just 15 seats.
"Now they are asking Taib to resign on grounds that he lost the Chinese vote. Will they apply the same standard to PM (Datuk Seri) Najib (Razak)?
"And why is MCA still in the Cabinet? Why was MCA's president (Datuk Seri Dr) Chua Soi Lek so keen on securing his son (Chua Tee Yong) a deputy minister's post?" Lim asked.
DAP publicity chief Tony Pua, who led the party's campaign in Sarawak, agreed, saying that the MCA should "dissolve" itself for having failed in its purpose of representing the Chinese community.
"If you are talking about support based on race, the MCA has failed to represent the Chinese. So their organisation is completely irrelevant. They should dissolve themselves," he said.
Lim and Pua were responding to a statement by MCA vice-president Gan Ping Sieu yesterday calling for Taib's resignation due to the outcome of Saturday's polls.
The DAP leaders also berated MCA's Loh Seng Kok for "insulting the intelligence of Sarawak voters" when he claimed the Chinese community had been duped into voting for the opposition for racial reasons.
"They are insulting their intelligence because Sarawak voters, all those who supported DAP, were voting for the Pakatan Rakyat (PR). They were voting for new politics which surpasses racial boundaries," said Lim.
Pua said it was the SUPP which had played the race card.
He pointed out that the outcome of the Sarawak polls had not only shown an increase in Chinese community support towards the DAP but an improvement in support from all communities towards PR as a pact.
This, he said, was mirrored in how the opposition had managed to increase its popular vote from 37 per cent in 2006 to 45.5 per cent or 300, 288 votes while BN managed to secure 54.5 per cent or 372, 379 votes.
"MCA and Gerakan leaders are feeling so aggrieved that they were treated with utter contempt in Sarawak that they are making these nonsensical statements.
"It is their way to vent their anger. They should know their days are numbered unless they change and rise above racial politics," said Lim.
Pua also pointed out that it was the MCA's parallel, the Sarawak United People's Party (SUPP), that had played the race card in the polls in order to convince people to reject the opposition.
In its campaign, the SUPP had warned Sarawakians that they would lose Chinese representation in the state Cabinet if they voted for the DAP.
On April 16, however, the DAP scored an electoral upset by winning 12 of the 15 seats it contested, most of them Chinese-majority urban seats.
The SUPP was nearly wiped out when the party, which claims to represent the Chinese, won in just six of the 19 seats it contested, only two of which were Chinese majority while the rest were Dayak seats.
"I want to challenge MCA to point out when and where in our entire campaign in Sarawak were we racist? Go back to school and learn what racism is.
"Fighting corruption, abuse of power and nepotism is not racism. These issues cut across the races and if MCA thinks they are racist, they should evaluate their own party constitution which prohibits other races from taking part in their organisation," said Pua.
Lim agreed, pointing out that the MCA and Gerakan were largely to blame for the SUPP's fall in Sarawak as leaders for both the peninsula-based BN partners had joined in the election campaign.
"The real reason why SUPP did so badly was because of the assistance rendered by MCA and Gerakan leaders who have only served to highlight the need for the country to rise above race and go for new politics. Since peninsula voters have rejected Gerakan and MCA, the Sarawak voters are doing the same.
"Nobody cared about them in Sarawak. Not just that, they were treated like garbage and with utter contempt," he said.
Posted: 21 Apr 2011 08:03 PM PDT
Malaysia at economic crossroads as it fights the great brain drain Kuala Lumpur government announces new strategy to try and retain its brightest sons and daughters from emigrating
Dustin Roasa in Kuala Lumpur
guardian.co.uk, Thursday 21 April 2011 18.47 BST
Sheng Cai Lim is a skilled and experienced IT professional, an asset to a country that aspires to grow into a fully developed nation by the end of the decade. There's only one problem. Lim, 29, isn't sure he wants to stay in Malaysia.
Lim says it's 50/50 that he'll leave. "I'll likely go to Singapore for a few years, and then after that maybe Canada or New Zealand," he said. He's on a six-month sabbatical from work and recently registered with head hunters who place candidates abroad. "My friends overseas wonder why I'm still in Malaysia. They say there are better opportunities abroad," he said.
If Lim does make the move, he'll join the 1.5m Malaysians, or 5.3% of the population, who live and work outside of the country, according to the World Bank. By moving to countries such as Singapore, Australia and the UK, these migrants are creating a considerable brain drain that threatens the country's economic progress.
"Brain drain is hurting the country's drive to move up the value chain," said Dr Ooi Kee Beng, senior fellow at the Institute of South-east Asian Studies in Singapore. "The fact that Malaysians fill many of the top and middle management posts in the region, from Shanghai to Singapore, tells us that the country is bleeding talent."
The problem has been getting worse in recent years. More than 300,000 Malaysians left the country between March 2008 and August 2009, compared to nearly 140,000 in 2007, the deputy foreign affairs minister, Tuan A Kohilan Pillay told parliament. Many work in key sectors such as finance, technology and engineering.
Two factors are driving the exodus, said Tony Pua, MP and member of the opposition committee on the ministry of higher education. "First, there's simple economics. You can make more money overseas," he said.
The other cause is the country's race-based affirmative action policies, Pua said, which favour ethnic-majority bumiputra, or sons of the soil, over minority Chinese and Indians, who make up 24% and 7% of the population, respectively.
"The two problems exacerbate each other. The economy has not been growing, and there's an increasing demand for a bigger piece of the pie among bumiputra. As a result, the government is more prone to implement policies that favour them, and minorities feel excluded. It's a vicious cycle," Pua said.
Malaysian law provides bumiputra benefits such as rebates on property prices, quotas for university enrolment and civil-service jobs, and preferential treatment for government contracts, among other advantages. The laws, which were enacted in 1971 in an attempt to redistribute wealth in the wake of race riots in 1969, distinguish Malaysia from other Asian countries with brain-drain problems, such as the Philippines.
In interviews with Malaysians living in Kuala Lumpur and overseas, frustration with these laws and worries about rising racial tension and Islamic conservatism have led many to reconsider their futures in their country of birth.
"Malaysia is a very controlled and fanatic country," said Janath Anantha Vass, 29, an ethnic Indian accountant in Kuala Lumpur who plans to move to Australia. "Melbourne suits my lifestyle the best, and I feel that's the place for me."
The Malaysian government is attempting to respond to the problem with an array of programmes, including 1Malaysia, a campaign designed to ease racial tensions. In January, Prime Minister Najib Razak launched the Talent Corporation, which seeks to lure back skilled Malaysians. But many are sceptical that these programmes will address the systemic problems driving brain drain.
"I'm not sure how effective Talent Corporation will be. Past programmes like this have not worked, and I'm not sure how this one is different," said Evelyn Wong, an ethnic Chinese economics student at Scripps College in California, who blogs about brain drain.
But Dr Kim Leng Yeah, an economist at Ram Holdings in Kuala Lumpur, said Talent Corporation did at least demonstrate the government's willingness to address the issue. "There has been a lot of public scepticism," he said. "But it is a proactive move." Representatives at Talent Corporation declined to comment.
As Lim, who is ethnic Chinese, considers his future, he has spent time thinking about his place in multicultural Malaysia. "I do realise that I am a minority in this country," he said. "My family is encouraging me to leave. They say, 'Malaysia doesn't want us anymore, so why stay?'"
And while he hasn't given up on eventually returning, he would have to see significant changes before doing so. "It doesn't feel like the country is mature enough to tackle its problems right now. When we are ready to face our problems, I'll be ready to come back," he said.
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