All rivers run to the sea

24 May 1998

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The Japanese political leadership is weak, the coalition government is fragile and parties are riddenwith factions that are always disagreeing with each other. As a result, the Japanese government, unlike our government, finds it harder to change the economic gear or directions. As New York Times says, "It becomes clear that the Japanese ship of state is heading for the iceberg."

At home I sense there is a renaissance of public spirit, a revival of the power of the rakyat, the beginning of a period of thoughtful reconstruction. Let us show the world our new capacity, new spirit and dedication.

As one generation passed away, another generation emerges, but the country remains. It continues to develop and progress. The Malaysian sun rises, and it goes down. Life is like a river - short, long, beautiful, fierce, (clean or polluted), enchanting and dreamy but all rivers run to the sea and yet the sea or ocean is never full; unto the place from where the rivers come, thither they return again. This is a paraphrase on my understanding of the Eccelesiates.

UMNO has just completed its divisional elections and for the first time in three decades I had no direct or indirect hand and interest in them. All attention now is focused on the all-important last UMNO supreme council election this century which will take place either in summer or autumn next year.

Meanwhile, the biggest Malaysian Chinese Political party - The Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA) - is 49 years old this year. I recall vividly when my history teacher in Form Two at the Malay College Kuala Kangsar, Chegu Salleh Hussein (now Datuk), asked the class on the day MCA was formed what the acronym meant. No one in the class knew.

He directed the question to me. "The Malayan Cricket Association!" was the reply. The was no laughter because no one had any idea what the letters meant. We were eleven years old.

As I recall it, Chegu Salleh told us the MCA was formed to help the British fight Malayan Communist Party (MCP) which was then waging a war of terrorism against the British colonial government and in the process both sides of the divide caused all Malayans to suffer.

The MCA - there was no doubt - did a good job to help fight the Red Menace. Some one competent should write about MCA's great contribution to changing the fortunes of the Emergency, the British euphemism for the 12 year long jungle war.

My good friend Datuk Seri Dr Ling Liong Sik (Sunny to some friends) has every reason to be proud of the party of which he is the leader. There is a good opportunity as any for me to write what I told Razak about Ling. He told me to cultivate talented MCA MPs. He gave me strong hints and among them were Lim Keng Yaik (before he left MCA for Gerakan), Albert Mah ( a former chief police officer of Penang), Michael Chen, Chong Hon Nyan, a former secretary-general of the Treasury, Richard Ho (now a banker) and Chan Siang Sun from his home state of Pahang.

My reading was Razak was particularly fond of Chong (retired), Chen (now deputy president of the Dewan Negara) and Chan (died in office as health minister after playing badminton).

When Razak asked me to submit to or three names of MCA MPs to go to Moscow on a goodwill trip I submitted only Ling's name. He asked me, "Dollah, why only one name?" I told him, "Tun, Ling is the best candidate. He is the man to watch: clubale, able and speaks English well and a doctor like our Dr. Mahathir. "My punch line was "like Dr. Mahathir".

Then, during one important debate, he directed me to ask as many MCA Mps as possible to speak out. I approached Ling and Mah and one or two others and told each one of them separately that Razak particularly wanted him to speak.

Razak later told me: "Dolah you are right about Dr. Ling."

Dato' Abdullah Ahmad is Malaysia's Special Envoy to the United Nations

(This article has been reproduced with the kind permission of Sun )