It’s much ado about nothing, but Tan Cheng Lock’s granddaughter still gets a reply to douse her grouses.
Yesterday, in a blogger’s interview with Dr Ooi Kee Beng, the author of THE RELUCTANT POLITICIAN: Tun Dr Ismail and His Time, Screenshots gave a context to Tan Siok Choo’s accusing Ooi of appearing “confused about the founder of the MCA”.
Dr Ooi Kee Beng… LensaPress photo by Jeff Ooi
Today, in his open reply to Siok Choo through The Star, the MCA-owned newspaper, Ooi asserted that there was no intentional omission of her grandfather as the MCA founder.
“The issue is whether the MCA in fact had one founder or a group of founders. In any case, I would not disagree that Tan was the main figure involved,” Ooi said.
Nevertheless, Ooi thanked Siok Choo for making him “aware of the fact that the word ‘founder’ when referring to the MCA is used by some in a highly specified manner to mean that Tan was the only founder, and that other figures (Tun H.S. Lee, Tun Leong Yew Koh, Yong Shook Lin, Khoo Teik Ee and Siok Choo’s father, Tun Tan Siew Sin), as Siok Choo put it, “were among Malayan Chinese who provided the organising energy that helped MCA founder Tan to get the political party off the ground”.“
In accusing Ooi’s “strange omission” of Tan as the MCA founder, Siok Choo had anchored her argument on a book by Professor Heng Pek Koon, who is based in Washington. On the other hand, Ooi had referenced C.F. Yong and R.B. McKenna’s book “The Kuomintang Movement in British Malaya, 1912-1949” relating to a historical event that Tan did not participate.
The historical event, as history has it, refers to an Alliance delegation consisting of the Tunku, Tun Dr Ismail, H.S. Lee and Leong Yew Koh, who handed over a resolution to Sir Gerald Templer, warning the British High Commissioner of a boycott if recommendations of the Federal Elections Committee were accepted as law in the run-up to Malaya’s Independence in 1957.
In the open reply, Ooi also reiterated that, partly to accommodate this view, and partly because the phrase — with which Siok Choo was displeased — was of no central significance to the event that he was relating on page 65 of the TDI biography, “I had already changed the phrase used in the first print into ‘the latter two representing the MCA’ in all subsequent reprints, and had informed Siok Choo of that decision weeks ago”.
However, Siok Choo seemed bent on venting her displeasure in the Press a week ago, on March 15, 2007.
I am currently reading Ooi’s book, and hopefully, I can write a review later. Throughout the chapters on the life and time of Tun Dr Ismail, the central figure of the biography, MCA appeared to me as but a footnote in Malaysian history. I feel sorry, too, as its present context is no different compared to some 30 years ago, only to be reduced to obscure a footnote after 1969.
And you know I know, people do not read footnotes.