WHEN his boss at the Home Ministry, Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad, called on Malaysia's Chinese community to 'chart a new direction', Ong Ka Ting wasted no time in giving them some pointers. The Deputy Home Minister attacked his fellow Chinese for their drunkenness, their fondness for gambling and mahjong, and their 'absolute belief in superstition and the power of mediums'. He said such 'unproductive . . . negative practices and traditions' could create a rift between the Chinese and other races. Mr Ong, a vice-president of the Malaysian Chinese Association, the second biggest party in the ruling coalition, said it and other Chinese groups had launched the Chinese Innovation and Reform Plan to create a more positive identity for Malaysian Chinese. He said there was no room in the information age for superstitious beliefs which, if allowed to rule the lives of Chinese, could hamper their progress. But Mr Ong reserved his strongest condemnation for the lengthy Chinese dinner, with its side entertainment and heavy drinking. 'What is the point of organising such events when, at the end of it, the participants cannot even remember what it was all about because they are drunk?' he asked. One company director, however, retorted: 'It is the Chinese way of entertaining business associates and relatives. Why should we change this?'