TODAY’s newspapers were full of reports on the Federation of Seven Clan Associations. If you’re not from the Chinese community, or an active member of Chinese associations, you would very likely wonder what all the fuss is about.
Confused? I was. So I decided to try to figure out why the media has decided that this is a big story.
Well to begin with let’s try to figure out what the Federation is.
It is apparently exactly as its name implies – a federation of seven clan associations! Under the federation are seven associations from Sibu — Foochow, Kwong Wai Siew, Hainan, Hakka, Chiang Chuan, Heng Hua and Teochew.
In Kuching and Samarahan, there is something called the Federation of Kuching and Samarahan Divisions Chinese Associations. This federation unites the Chinese associations in the two divisions and presumably speaks on their behalf.
So what is the problem you ask? What’s wrong with a federation uniting the Chinese associations in Sibu, just like there is in Kuching and Samarahan?
Well in Sibu there is something called the United Chinese Association (UCA). The seven clan associations in this new Federation are also members of the UCA, which as its name implies is supposed to unite the various Chinese clans.
Now the next question may be if this is so, why the need for the Federation? If things were all good in the UCA, surely there would be no need for the Federation right?
Anyway, I will not speculate on this.
Although some have said that the new Federation will simply split the Chinese community, it really is naive to think that there are no splits in any community. Even in each family there are divisions. We all take sides because we are human!
What is obvious is that some in the community feel the need for another organisation to voice their needs. Things cannot be all rosy in the present set up or the people would not feel the need to find an alternative voice.
What is important is that all voices from the Chinese community are heard. Surely those who are really sincere in ensuring the best for the community should not feel threatened.
How The Borneo Post reported it:
Federation refutes claims against it
KUCHING: The Federation of Seven Clan Associations has refuted claims that it intends to go up against the United Chinese Association (UCA) and that it would eventually be transformed into a political party.
Pro tem chairman Chai Then Sian said “it is ridiculous and there is definitely no such thing”, but declined to state the objectives of setting up the federation in Sibu.
“We absolutely have no intention of becoming a political party. We never said the Chinese community was neglected, do not misinterpret us.
“We hold no dissatisfaction towards UCA. We are still part of UCA as the seven associations are the existing members of UCA,” he told reporters when leading a 1,200-member delegation to Chief Minister Pehin Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud’s open house on Wednesday.
Chai, who is Federation of Sarawak Chiang Chuan Associations president, said the new federation had yet to call for an inaugural general meeting.
He also refused to disclose a date for the pro tem committee to hold its first meeting, adding: “It is still being arranged.”
He also did not reveal the number of members in the federation’s pro tem committee.
On whether the new federation supported the Barisan Nasional government, he said: “We are all Malaysians. This is Merdeka Day and second day of Hari Raya, we are here to (extend good wishes to) the Chief Minister.
“We came with no political agenda and absolutely no politics involved.”
Responding to reports that the new federation would submit a memorandum to Taib during the visit, he insisted the delegation was there simply to extend festive greetings.
“We did not say we wanted to submit any memorandum. Who said that? The press reported but I did not say any of it. None of us said it and reporters must have imagined that.”
When pressed on the federation’s objectives, he said: “We will come to that later. We are here today to show friendliness to our Muslim friends. It is the 1Malaysia spirit we all shall uphold.”
The new federation comprises seven associations in Sibu — Foochow, Kwong Wai Siew, Hainan, Hakka, Chiang Chuan, Heng Hua and Teochew.
The members arrived in 25 buses at the Borneo Convention Centre Kuching (BCCK) around 9am to attend the Chief Minister’s open house.
Each member wore a beige vest emblazoned with the logos of the seven associations.
At around 10am, the members had a group photo taken with Taib and several other state Barisan Nasional (BN) leaders.