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Tee Keat claims he is now the favourite
26-Mar-2010, The Malaysian Insider
By Clara Chooi

KUALA LUMPUR, March 25 —With just two days left in the campaign, incumbent MCA presidential candidate Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat is claiming that the balance of support has tipped in his favour, undermining speculation that he is the underdog in the presidential race.

When asked if he felt that he was no longer the underdog, or the weakest candidate of the three presidential hopefuls, Tee Keat said: “Certainly, I am not!”

He acknowledged that certain online opinion polls, like the independent Merdeka Center, had reflected this and said the results should not be taken lightly.

The Merdeka Center polls showed that Tee Keat was the preferred choice for president above his two contenders with 30 per cent of the votes going to him.

Former president Tan Sri Ong Ka Ting came in second with 15 per cent support while former deputy president Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek came in last with just 12 per cent.

“This is a sign of the level of support and acceptance [of me] from the people,” said Tee Keat in a press conference at the MCA headquarters here this afternoon.

He added that people were now getting a clearer picture of past events including last year’s infamous Oct 10 extraordinary general meeting.

“Currently, I must say that the mood is upbeat and such a mood cannot be fabricated because it comes from the people.

“Do not forget that people now read more than one newspaper and often solicit for news through other means like online sources,” he said.

Tee Keat’s confidence seems to suggest that the outcome of this Sunday’s polls may just go against the general sentiment that the leader was likely to lose his grasp on his president post, which he held for a mere year and a half.

According to the embattled leader, the “underdog spin” was merely a tool used by his opponents to win votes in their favour and he expressed regret that it had even gone to the extent of rumours spread that he may bow out from the race.

“In the past few days, my grassroots have been giving me feedback that both my worthy opponents seem to have resorted to the same strategy... perhaps this is the common modus operandi of the MCA... to say that I am the underdog.

“They are telling the candidates not to waste their votes and that (since I am the underdog) they might as well switch their allegiances to them (my opponents),” he said.

Tee Keat however claimed that he had his pulse on the ground sentiment, which he said was presently swinging to his favour.

“My immediate response is that I know how the ground feels at this juncture and I know the kind of momentum that we are riding on,” he said.

He scoffed at his opponents’ purported manoeuvre, pointing out that if they were so confident of having a large pool of “solid votes”, why would they feel the need to woo his supporters.

“Their intention is pretty clear... They want to top up the number of votes polled in their favour. In this case, all three of us have our solid votes and what is bewildering is why they must be so shaky as to woo my supporters with such a message,” he said.

Tee Keat added that he had always been consistent in his message of change and had always focussed on reaching out to the grassroots by telling the truth.

“We talk about what we can do for the party and I have chosen not to hurt anybody,” he said.

Despite this, Tee Keat maintained that his will would not crumble and that he would remain persistent and campaign to the very end.

“I remain focussed and undeterred by spins of any kind simply because a spin cannot be translated into the truth.

“For your information, during my walkabouts, we sense that although it is going to be a tough fight, people are buying into my non-confrontational approach.

“Most importantly, people want to see a clear message of transformation and this is not something I can unilaterally impose on the people,” he said.

Tee Keat also denied rumours that he had been offered posts including that of party secretary general, if he were to pull out of the race.

“This is not true at all. I have never been offered any post by any party or any candidate who is competing with me,” he said.

He would not directly name the culprits behind the rumours but merely said that it had come from his opponents’ camps.

“I am not making an accusation here but because certain parties are spreading this information and a lot of delegates have asked for a clarification, I am making my stand here clear,” he said.


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