By TAY TIAN YAN
Sin Chew Daily
MCA is heralded into a big unknown although I would try to avoid using a description in the likes of "gloominess".
The humiliating defeat in GE13 may not be the rock bottom for the party.
Just as many believe that MCA is beginning to crawl out of the pit, political developments ahead could sink the party deeper into the valley of despair once again.
I'm not trying to sound unnecessarily alarming, but if the situation doesn't turn for the better, this is exactly what will await the party.
I was talking about Hadi Awang's private bill, or RUU355 amendment.
MCA has made its stand very clear when compared to other political parties, even DAP. MCA is strongly against Hadi's private bill or the RUU355 amendment to be taken over by the government, as it contravenes the Federal Constitution and may as well become the stepping stone towards hudud.
The question is, so far Umno has not softened its stance, and is all the more prepared to collude with PAS; nor has the party shown any willingness to compromise with MCA.
To win the support of Muslim voters, Umno must work with PAS, which goes well with the law of survival. Nothing comes more supremely important than survival in political reality.
Even though MCA has attempted to dissuade Umno by citing the "BN Spirit" and "Federal Constitution", Umno's response has been anything but serious: "This has nothing to do with non-Muslims' rights. It's not hudud!"
RUU355 bill will be tabled in the Parliament in March, and there is no turning back for now.
Under such a cruel political reality, there are four likely scenarios awaiting MCA:
1. Reverse its stand and accept RUU355 amendment.
This will help prevent a split in the ruling coalition, but MCA will be the one to suffer the most. Its rivals will not give the golden opportunity a miss to hit out hard at the party for being "once again" kowtowing to Umno, sacrificing the interest of the Malaysian Chinese community in so doing.
The Chinese community will not be that understanding, either, and some of the votes that have earlier returned to the BN will be gone forever. MCA's image and support rate will go nowhere but down.
2. MCA firms up, no backing down.
From the perspectives of Umno and the mainstream Malay-Muslim society, if MCA firms up, it will be seen as trying to create trouble.
Some in Umno already feel that if MCA can't even understand this and would not be bothered about Umno's survival, then a decisive split will be a natural option to take.
Anyway, Umno can always look for new partners, including other Chinese-dominant parties.
Once this happens, either MCA is expelled from BN or the coalition is heading for complete dissolution, Umno will set up a new ruling coalition that excludes MCA.
MCA will then face the powerful onslaught not only from DAP but also the new ruling coalition. The party will lose the support of Malay voters and its future prospect is bleak.
3. Team up with others to force Umno to give in
The support of at least 112 MPs is required for the RUU355 amendment bill to be passed in Dewan Rakyat. Umno's 86 seats plus PAS' 14 will only make 100.
Without the support of other parties, RUU355 will not get through. As such, to ensure the adoption of RUU355, the support of other ruling parties such as BN components in East Malaysia and opposition/independent Muslim MPs is essential.
MCA can try to rope in these MPs to oppose RUU355. Of course, Umno can also do the same to them.
4. Persuade Umno to defer the bill.
The impact of RUU355 is momentous and there is no way Umno should overlook the possible consequences. A collapsed BN will not do the party any good but will further strengthen PAS.
If MCA can persuade Najib and Umno to defer the tabling of RUU355 to at least after the general elections, then things could turn out different for MCA.
As Umno and PAS have pledged to work together towards it, any change will not come easy.
Among the four possible scenarios above, only the last two are favorable to MCA and will go well with the Chinese community's interest.
But, this is much easier said than done and will take a lot more wisdom and effort from our politicians to fulfill.