It is unclear what the future holds for the Malaysian Chinese Association. Popular public discourse so far is tilted to one that assumes that MCA is heading the way of Gerakan, which is one of national irrelevance. Whatever path MCA will take, Chua Soi Lek is now the President of the party.
While I myself am hostile to MCA for its position in Barisan Nasional, I celebrate this victory. There is only one reason for that: it is an assault to conservative notion of morality and the link between such morality and ability to perform public duty.
With glee if I might add. Already there is a joke running around that MCA has elected a porn star as its president. That is a cheap shot but it is still funny nonetheless. That is the fate of those who live by sex scandals.
Mr. Chua fell from power when a video of him having adulterous pleasure saw distribution in the age of the internet. The video is a very graphic depiction of his disloyalty to his wife. Malaysia’s infamous distribution network of pirated goods certainly lubricated the whole operation where the internet failed. In Malaysia at that time, the fact of such man holds public office — the Health Minister, which is an important one — is untenable. That was just over two years ago.
I hold that a person’s private life is none of our business, as long as no crime is committed. This includes the life of politicians. If Mr. Chua should be booted, it is for other reason related to very real public issues, like the health system for instance. I am adamant that the only crime in that case is the intrusion of privacy.
Notwithstanding his capability, his return is a direct rebuke to those who think otherwise. Opinion about his vision and contribution to the national health system is to be debated at other times.
Of course, Mr. Chua is not a Muslim. Some have argued that the conservative morality that conservative Muslim Malays have is irrelevant to him. True but it is still a foot in the door. Communities do not live in isolation. They interact. Development like this is akin to water acting upon rock. Enough times and the rock will give way.
Furthermore, it is not only the Muslims in Malaysia who maintain conservative world views. Mr. Chua would not have fallen from power in MCA if that was not so. The election of Mr. Chua is a proof that in MCA, the conservative opinion is being listed only at the bottom of its priority list: there are other more important things to consider.
That is encouraging.