FOR the week of 9 to 15 March 2009, the Chinese media highlighted Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Rustam being barred from the Umno party polls; trouble brewing within the Chinese education movement in the run-up to its annual general assembly; and the EPF declaring a 4.5% dividend for 2008.
Ali RustamTurmoil within Umno was spotlighted in Nanyang Siang Pau on 18 March. A commentary titled A look at Umno party election from Mohd Ali’s exit by Weng Shu Hong pointed out the different views evoked by the Umno disciplinary board for banning Mohd Ali from contesting the party’s number two post.
“Some Umno members believe the decision was a tactic in a power struggle. These people are of the view that money politics has been part of the party for a long time, and that the disciplinary action [against Mohd Ali] taken before party polls seemed to be selective,” said Weng.
“There are also those who believe that the disciplinary actions were necessary, especially after Umno has suffered major setbacks in the 8 March general election and calls for it to reform. Therefore, Umno must ensure that leaders elected in the party polls are credible and possess a positive image.”
Weng also pointed out that in order to prevent backlash, some feel that taking action before the party polls would be necessary.
“Meanwhile, Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib (Razak)’s assurance that Mohd Ali’s position as chief minister of Malacca is unaffected also serves as a shock absorber. However, Umno leaders should try to do more to calm Mohd Ali’s supporters to prevent them from casting protest votes.”
On 20 March, Wu Ming’s article titled Barring Mohd Ali makes things complicated for MCA in Sin Chew Daily noted the decision to retain Mohd Ali as Malacca chief minister despite him being banned from contesting in party polls is not only puzzling but poses a dilemma for the MCA.
“The MCA has been going down hard on morality since the controversy caused by deputy party president Datuk Seri Chua Soi Lek’s sex video. Now that Mohd Ali is barred for committing money politics, it is matter of public morality, something far more important than private morality.
“The people may not be affected by a leader’s extramarital affairs but will definitely bear the burden of a corrupt and not credible leader. Needless to say, comparing the two, we know which brings more serious consequences.”
“However, the MCA chose to remain silent even though Mohd Ali continues to hold the post of chief minister. If the MCA truly values morality, it shouldn’t have said, ‘This is Umno’s internal problem, we should not get involved,'” Wu Ming said.
Dong Zong’s Yap under fire
On 21 March, therocknews.com reported that there was trouble brewing in the United Chinese School Committees’ Association (Dong Lian) of Selangor-Kuala Lumpur, a component of Dong Zong, in the run-up to the Chinese education movement’s annual general assembly in June.
The online news portal also reported the possibility of neutral delegates voting against Dong Zong chairperson Dr Yap Sin Tian in the 2009 Selangor-KL Dong Lian elections on 19 April. Yap also currently helms the Selangor-KL Dong Lian, and has said he will seek re-election.
A school trustee who declined to be named was quoted as saying: “Yap did not fulfill his responsibility as Dong Zong chairperson. The controversy on New Era College has fractured the Chinese education movement; not only did he not try to patch things up, he is saying the other side is going against him.”
There was also unhappiness with Yap for Dong Zong not taking part in the mass protest on 7 March against the policy of teaching mathematics and science in English led by the Gerakan Mansuhkan PPSMI (GMP) movement.
The trustee added, “As the initiator against this policy, Yap should have approached GMP in seeking understanding and not waited for others to approach him.”
Malaysiakini.com’s Chinese version offered a different side of the story on 20 March. It was reported that Selangor-KL Dong Lian was appalled and upset by the rumours of Yap being bought over by a political party, in an attempt to influence the results of Dong Lian’s coming elections.
In the article, Yap also explained why the eight major Chinese Malaysian education associations did not participate in the GMP gathering.
“Before the gathering on 7 March, the media reported the GMP chairperson as wanting to teach science and mathematics in the mother tongue. However, GMP only sent a copy of the memorandum to Dong Zong on the night of 6 March. After going through it carefully, we noticed the memorandum only wanted to abolish the policy, but did not specifically request to revive teaching of the subjects in respective mother tongues.”
Proponents of mother-tongue instruction during the GMP gathering on 7 March
Yap added, “Following the three points of understanding achieved in the interaction between Dong Jiao Zong, Chinese Malaysian associations and GMP chairperson Dr Hassan Ahmad, including the understanding to revive teaching science and mathematics in the respective mother tongues, we shall see more cooperation between us.”
The Dong Zong chairperson pointed out that some educationists only focus on the demand to abolish the policy and forget about the importance of reviving the teaching of the subjects in the mother tongue.
EPF performance questioned
Guang Ming Daily‘s editorial on 17 March lamented the low Employee Provident Fund (EPF) dividend rate and questioned the performance of the statutory body.
“The EPF’s performance is undeniably closely related to the global economy. However, the problem at hand [relates to its] being one of strongest financial institutions in the country.
“The 4.5% dividend is definitely higher than a one-year fixed deposit rate, but is relatively lower than many investment-linked funds. We must also not forget that the EPF has stronger financial resources compared with these funds,” said Guang Ming.
“The EPF is very important to its members. In the age of inflation, these members hope to see higher dividend rates from the EPF so that they would have sufficient savings after retirement.”
As such, the EPF should do more to protect the savings of its members, the editorial said.