Seachange Malaysia interviews President of the Malaysian Chinese Association, Datuk Seri Ling Liong Sik and find him both blunt and forthright. Below is a transcript of the interview.

SM: Firstly, Datuk Ling, can you summarise what the MCA has done for the Chinese community during your term of office?
LLS: Don't be absurd. Let me put it this way: ask not what the Association has done for you but what you have done for the Association. Specifically, I would like to ask each and every Chinese how much money he or she has contributed to the MCA.

SM: Surely the MCA has some responsibility towards the community it claims to represent?
LLS: Perhaps you are not aware that many MCA leaders, including myself, have been elected from Malay majority electorates? So, why indeed should we feel any responsibility?

SM: In that case, why don't you and these leaders run in Chinese majority electorates?
LLS: What? And lose my deposit? Are you mad?

SM: How much support do you reckon the Chinese have for Barisan Nasional?
LLS: About 99%. The remaining 1% just needs psychiatric treatment.

SM: What do you think is the reason for such amazingly high support?
LLS: There are basically three reasons: riots, riots and riots. All we need to do is talk of May 13. It works every time. This year, because of the short election campaign, we have decided to show full-page pictures of riots as well. After all, each one is worth a thousand words.

SM: Surely you don't think that another May 13-style incident is likely after 30 years of the NEP?
LLS: I don't need to think. If we have such a great and wise leader like Mahathir, why do we need to think? If Mahathir says there will be riots, there will be riots. It's amazing how many times he's been proven right.

SM: Well, what if there aren't any riots?
LLS: In that case, I call upon all loyal MCA supporters to make the Prime Minister's wish come true.

SM: Don't you consider the Chinese today to be too mature to be taken in by this ploy?
LLS: To be mature is to be able to make money. To be able to make money is to get rich. To get rich is to fear losing your wealth. To fear losing your wealth is to fear riots. It all comes round to the same thing.

SM: Shouldn't the MCA be trying to reassure the Chinese community instead of joining in Mahathir's strategy of fear?
LLS: That would be unthinkable. We would never ever undermine Mahathir or UMNO.

SM: Why?
LLS: There are a few billion reasons.

SM: Can you please explain?
LLS: I have my billions to protect. My son also has his billions to protect.

SM: How would you react to those who accuse you of being Mahathir's yes-man?
LLS: That is an insult. When Mahathir says 'No' I say 'No' as well. For instance, when the bank merger plan was first proposed, we agreed whole-heartedly with it even though it would have diluted Chinese interests in the banking industry. Now that it has been scrapped, we agree whole-heartedly as well.

SM: What do you think of the jailing of Lim Guan Eng over his criticism of the handling of a rape case involving Rahim Thamby Chik and an underaged girl?
LLS: It was most unfortunate. This sort of thing should never happen in a free society. The case marks an erosion in individual rights, I mean the right to do something close to your heart without being interfered with or victimised.

SM: So you consider the jailing of Lim Guan Eng to be a gross travesty of justice?
LLS: What? What? Who's talking about Lim Guan Eng? I was referring to the rights of Rahim Thamby Chik.

SM: What do you think is the long-term future of the MCA?
LLS: We intend to become a multi-racial party. That will of course, necessitate a name change.

SM: That sounds very positive. So all Malaysians will be able to join the party?
LLS: Certainly not! Whatever gave you the idea? Entry will be limited to those Malaysians with income above a threshold level.

SM: So, what will be the party's new name?
LLS: The Malaysian Cronies Association. It sounds so much nicer doesn't it?

Seachange Malaysia