MCA EGM: Ong Having The Upperhand?

Bernama Online | KUALA LUMPUR, 08-Oct-2009 — As the MCA’s “triple 10” Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM) approaches – at 10am on the 10th day of the 10th month this Saturday – many party insiders believe the 2,377-odd central delegates who would be voting in it have more or less made up their minds.

This is despite the emergence of a socalled “third force” which wants the delegates to reject both MCA President Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat and suspended Deputy President Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek in Saturday’s EGM.

Talk about the “third force” emerged over the past few weeks but only Thursday did it surface at a press conference organised by Rasah Jaya branch chairman Tan Kah Choun.

Tan claimed the group had the backing of some central delegates as well as support from 13 former MCA leaders including Tun Dr Ling Liong Sik, Tan Sri Ong Ka Ting, Tan Sri Chan Kong Choy, Tan Sri Ting Chew Peh and Tan Sri Lee San Choon, although some of the leaders have denied their involvement.

Ting has openly denied that he is backing the group and was surprised that his name was implicated with it as its members had never contacted him to discuss about the matter.

“This is a baseless claim. It’s like fishing in murky water. I believe the delegates are mature, they know what to do. It is unfair, just because of their dispute, the two (Ong and Dr Chua) have to quit,” he said.

Despite this latest development, which some political observers believe was aimed to split the votes, some delegates said they had already made up their minds on what to do on that day but preferred to keep their choice close to their hearts.

“Most of us are already tired. We just want this to be over soon and the party move forward. You will know the result when we cast our votes this Saturday,” said a delegate from Johor.

MCA President Ong Tee Keat is said to have “taken the bull by the horns” when he sanctioned the Oct 10 EGM and accepted the five resolutions proposed by Dr Chua’s supporters to be tabled, which could see him being ousted along with his supporters.

Ong, who has been in crisis with Dr Chua since the party election last year, has to face the delegates who will judge whether his decisions were acceptable to the grassroots or otherwise.

However, recently, the party’s powerful decision making body, the Central Committee (CC), reduced Dr Chua’s sentence to just four years’ suspension but his supporters claimed this was unfair and vowed to overturn the decision at the EGM.

Some party delegates believe that the latest developments related to Port Klang Free Trade Zone (PKFZ) and news reports that claimed that Ong had been cleared from a RM10 million corruption case may favour him.

At least, in the public’s perception, Ong seems to be the person who should lead the party, as shown by the latest opinion poll released by Merdeka Centre For Opinion Research.

Titled “MCA political developments, BN reforms, PKFZ and perceptions on Pakatan Rakyat”, the result on the polls on MCA’s leadership showed overall Ong was favoured by 25.2 per cent of the 846 respondents to lead MCA as compared to only 5.8 per cent for Dr Chua.

The poll, which was carried out from Sept 29 Sept till Oct 4, also showed 32.2 per cent of its Chinese respondents preferred Ong to lead the party as compared to only 5.1 per cent who were in favour of Dr Chua.

However, Dr Chua’s supporters were still confident that they could win over the delegates, saying that “the response from the delegates is encouraging” and were heading toward a victory with all five motion being passed by the delegates.

The five resolutions are (1) a motion of no-confidence against Tee Keat (2) to annul the decision by the Presidential Council to expel Chua (3) to reinstate Chua as MCA Deputy President (4) to revoke any appointments including the Deputy President made before the EGM and (5) that no disciplinary action be taken against the EGM requisitionists.

Ong’s supporters claim the feedback from the ground was very clear as far as the first and second motions were concerned.

“I don’t think the no-confidence vote will be successful as many in the party want him to lead even though some of them don’t like him personally,” a party source said.

The same supporters said party members and delegates now had a better picture on what was going on in the party and support for him (Ong) had increased in the past week.

“The second resolution to annul the Presidential Council’s decision to sack Chua did not carry any more weight now as Dr Chua is only being suspended for four years.

“Before his suspension, the sentiments were strong and many delegates symphatised with Dr Chua, but after the CC decision, the situation changed,” the source added.

However, party insiders predicted the outcome of Saturday’s EGM would be razor thin as some delegates were not bothered with the outcome.

“We are concerned with the attendance rate. Some of the delegates have indicated that they might not attend,” a party insider said.