It was a history lesson throughout the two-hour conversation – one that focused on uniting for common good.
Datuk Seri Ti Lian Ker, dressed rather casually following a meeting at Wisma MCA, spoke enthusiastically about the golden era of MCA and the playmakers who turned the party into a force to be reckoned with.
But the MCA vice-president, who is also a legal eagle, is aware the MCA of today is a far cry from its glory days when helmed by the likes of Tun Tan Siew Sin and Tan Sri Lee San Choon.
The Chinese-based party received stinging criticism following its pathetic performance at the May 9 general election last year that saw Barisan Nasional’s (BN) 61-year rule collapse.
The outrage and resentment against MCA is not new. It has, in fact, been building up over the years due to weak leadership and the failure to understand the people’s sentiments.
“But MCA is still relevant,” Ti insisted.
“We don’t have people leaving MCA in droves, we don’t have frogs … our members aren’t jumping to other parties.”
“Many have always had a wrong perception about MCA, that people joined for vested interest, for businesses, to enrich themselves. That’s far from it as the party does not practise handouts or giving out projects even when we had representatives in the Cabinet.”
He stressed the elitists had already established their ties with the powers-that-be through their own means.
However, Ti readily admitted MCA lost the perception war as the party was “too focused on serving the community”, forgetting to upkeep its image along the way.
“We have the structure, the content. DAP is top heavy but has no content. They just pick who they want to represent them and turn them into poster boys or girls. But are these poster boys and girls getting support from the grassroots? It is evident unlike MCA, DAP ministers are less accessible to the masses as their reach to the grassroots is not there.”
MCA leaders, critical of BN especially after May 9, have urged that the coalition be dissolved. Yet, Ti led a team of MCA members as they campaigned for BN’s Datuk Ramli Mohd Nor who won the Cameron Highlands Jan 26 by-election with a majority of 3,238 votes.
“I believe many have misunderstood the party’s stand. Yes, MCA said BN should be dissolved but that can only happen when BN leaders sit and meet. We believe in consensus. Till then, we will support any party which shares our cause.”
Ti also shared his thoughts about DAP’s Lim Guan Eng serving as Finance Minister.
“It seems that he (Lim) is merely a book keeper.”
While one would think Ti would make scathing attacks against MCA’s long-time rival party DAP, he took a diplomatic approach instead.
“There are things where we are on the same page. There are things where we are not. We need to be educated on how we approach issues. It’s not about saying who is right or wrong but doing the right thing for the people.”
He spoke about how MCA played a role in the formation of Malaysia and ensuring cool heads prevailed at the height of the 1969 racial tensions and how party members felt the New Economic Policy did not do justice to Malaysians in general.
“History has taught us a lot of things. It is only natural for us to look back at history to become better people and leaders.”
With that mind, Ti is now eager to inject a fresh outlook for MCA. He wants more young faces to carry the MCA brand. He wants people to know that MCA will remain an important element in Malaysia’s political climate.
Ti left the table hopeful. It remains to be seen if such optimism will translate into garnering more support and eventually votes in Malaysia’s interesting but volatile political dimension.