FORMER MCA state legislator Lee Hwa Beng’s political career ended with the 2008 political tsunami, which he felt was triggered by Indian anger towards Barisan Nasional.
The three-term Subang Jaya assemblyman had contested in the Kelana Jaya parliamentary seat and lost to an unknown newcomer Loh Gwo Burne from PKR.
Loh’s claim to fame was that he recorded lawyer V.K. Lingam brokering judicial appointments, which eventually resulted in a royal commission of inquiry into the matter.
“If I didn’t lose in 2008, I would have gone on to become a deputy minister,” he told The Malaysian Insight.
The then MCA president Ong Ka Ting was ready to recommend Lee to become a deputy minister if he won Kelana Jaya as expected.
“Honestly, I didn’t think I would lose,” said Lee.
However, he did notice that voters did not shake his hands as heartily as before and thanked him sheepishly.
They would later visit him to tell him that they don’t have anything against him, but they did not vote for him because of Umno.
He reflected on the shocking loss for a long time and attributed it to four factors: the longer campaign period of 13 days, MCA’s involvement in the Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ) scandal, the Hindraf protests, and the V.K. Lingam videos.
The opposition organised up to 10 ceramah in the neighbouring constituency of Subang within the 13-day campaign period.
“(DAP veteran) Lim Kit Siang came, (PKR de facto leader) Anwar Ibrahim came, there was a ceramah almost every day. They were raising the PKFZ scandal and the point that MCA is subservient to Umno in BN,” he said.
If the campaign period were shorter, he mused that he might not have lost.
MCA won 15 out of the 40 parliamentary seats and 32 out of the 90 state seats it contested in 2018.
Prior to that, the party had always been able to win more than half of the federal and state seats it contested since 1959, except in the 1969 and 1990 elections.
Same old BN
After a decade, Lee said, corruption is still rife in BN and Umno remains the dominant party in the ruling coalition.
When he was appointed as the Port Klang Authority chairman from 2008 to 2011, he said, he tried his best to resolve the PKFZ scandal and make things right.
However, the author of PKFZ: a nation’s trust betrayed was sacked from his party post by then MCA president Chua Soi Lek.
He was further sacked from MCA in 2013 for criticising the party.
“Corruption is MCA’s death knell. There has been too much corruption, it makes it easy for the opposition to attack us.
“The people don’t like one party dominating the others, they don’t like corruption. This is known. But after 10 years, nothing has changed. Nothing,” said Lee of BN and MCA.
He added that the recent feud between Tourism and Culture Minister Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz and MCA showed that MCA is incapable of reining in an errant Umno minister.
Dr Mahathir factor
Lee believes the remnants of the Indian tsunami in 2008 and the Chinese tsunami in 2013 which saw the MCA lose more parliamentary and state seats will not die off until BN resolves its corruption issues.
Although BN may have more followers on social media, the opposition does not need its supporters to spread news unfavourable to BN.
He said independent netizens resentful of BN’s excesses would take it upon themselves to edit, package and spread content against it.
Furthermore, he thinks Dr Mahathir Mohamad is capable of creating a Malay tsunami in the next polls which must be held by August.
Many Malays have a special connection to the former prime minister and Pakatan Harapan chairman, he said.
“In their minds, our country’s rapid economic development was thanks to Mahathir, to be able to study abroad was thanks to Mahathir, to be able to visit Indonesia, the UK, the US, all these were thanks to Mahathir.”
The tsunami will roll on and gather strength in 2018, he believes and this time it will be the Malays’ turn.