By Mohsin Abdullah
I don't envy Liow Tiong Lai despite his datukship, his ministerial position in the Najib administration and his presidency in the MCA.
Why? Every time or rather most of the times Datuk Seri Liow says something and comments on issues, he would draw flak from fellow Malaysians, the majority of whom are the very people he and his party claim to represent.
Sometimes it's because of his own doing. Sometimes not.
But in a nutshell people seem to have a dislike for Liow and his party. And they have their own reasons for feeling such. Put it the other way, many are not impressed with Liow & Co
But I must admit what I'm saying here is just based on comments in social media only, not a detailed study or a survey. Hence the negative comments could have come from people who are "pro-opposition" if you like.
Yet, there are so-called "neutral" people who do not have nice words for Liow and the MCA for that matter. This I say for a fact, having the honor of knowing some of the neutrals personally.
I agree there surely are "positive" comments from supporters of Liow. And it could be just me who somehow must have missed detecting the "praises and accolades" for the MCA president
Nevertheless, Liow and MCA have important matters to handle. That's saying the obvious. For this article, I'll try to highlight just three, not in order of importance as all three are of equal significance.
No. 1: The Chinese primary school funding issue. As we know, Chinese primary schools complained of not receiving the RM50 million grant allocated to them. That was sometime last December. The allocation was for the year 2016, announced in October 2015 by the finance minister in his Budget speech.
Anyway, a Malaysiakini report on January 1 this year said Liow promised to sort it out with prime minister cum finance minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak.
Comments from netizens came thick and fast. Someone pointed out that the allocation announced in 2015 should come into effect in 2016, and thus "MCA has been sleeping and suddenly woke up to find coffers empty".
The unnamed commentator went on to say: " You certainty won't wait Dec 2016 to start looking into empty promises and start talking to the PM after the New Year . That's a sick joke Mr. Liow ".
on January 4, Malaysiakini ran a report from Sin Chew Daily which quoted Liow as saying he and his deputy Datuk Seri Wee Ka Siong had met Najib and that the PM had promised to resolve the issue "as soon as possible".
People who made remarks in social media were not convinced. Enough said as you get the drift.
No. 2: Hudud. Oops! I mean Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang's private member's bill aimed at "empowering the Shariah courts".
MCA, according to Liow, is against it. Umno on the other hand is supportive of the bill, so much so it wants to "adopt' the bill, making it a BN initiative, which the MCA must support by virtue of being a component of the coalition.
Need MCA be reminded (in fact the party has already been reminded by Umno) by convention all members of parliament and state assemblymen from BN components must support any motion tabled by the BN.
Liow has said many times he would be bringing the matter up with the PM. But remember it was Najib in his capacity as Umno president who announced that his party would embrace Hadi's bill and tabled it in the Parliament.
We are hearing now the MCA via its legal team has come up with a study on the Shariah bill. I assume it contains the party's "reservations and objections" to the bill. The study said Liow, as reported, would present it to the cabinet with the intention of bringing it to the Parliament to be debated. Is this an "alternative" bill from the MCA?
Umno has always claimed the Hadi bill is all about the "religion of Islam". So, will Umno agree to an "alternative" to the "Islamic bill " drawn up by a non-Muslim party? Granted the non-Muslim party is a long and close friend of Umno. Feel free to come to your own conclusion.
And for the record, Parti Amanah Negara, a party whose leaders are well versed in Islamic matters but differ from the views of PAS' Hadi Awang, acted much earlier.
As early as October last year, Amanah, through its Kota Raja MP Dr. Siti Mariah Mahmud, filed an alternative bill (also a private member's bill) to enhance the Shariah courts. But it was rejected by the Dewan Rakyat Speaker.
No. 3: The UEC issue. Unified Examination Certificate is not recognized by the government much to the chagrin of many, especially the Chinese community.
This is a long-standing issue with no solution in sight despite numerous demands and requests made to the government by Chinese educationists, associations and guilds, including MCA
In last year's MCA general assembly, Liow, in the presence of Najib, called upon the government to give recognition to the UEC.
Najib responded in his speech by promising to work closely on Chinese education.
But days later, at the Umno general assembly, several delegates spoke against the UEC, telling the government not to bow to demands.
Prior to the assembly, in fact only days earlier, the pro-Umno or rather Umno-linked Gabungan Pelajar Melayu Semenanjung (GPMS) had urged Najib not to recognize the UEC, claiming that the examination system was "not in line with the national education policy".
I wonder whom Najib will listen to… He will have to juggle between being the president of Umno and BN, and the prime minister of Malaysia. Nothing to be envious there.
But most of all, as said earlier, I do not envy Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai. Not even a little bit.
(Mohsin Abdullah is a freelancer who writes about this, that and everything else.)