How Ong outfoxed Chua’s campaign

By Joseph Sipalan (NST)

HE may sting like a bee, but Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek is not floating like a butterfly now. 

It looks like the suspended MCA deputy president has been floored by a stunning blow to his extraordinary general meeting campaign.

The former health minister had banked on his expulsion to whip up support going into the Oct 10 EGM, but the central committee's decision to suspend him for four years instead seems to have knocked out his trump card.

In Dr Chua's camp, the suspension is a sucker punch that Ong sneaked in from behind the CC to stop Dr Chua's momentum.

Datuk Theng Book accuses the president’s camp of derailing the EGM
Datuk Theng Book accuses the president’s camp of derailing the EGM

Datuk Theng Book claimed the president's camp, consisting of the 11 appointed members in the 43-seat CC, pushed the decision to derail a no-confidence vote in Ong at the EGM.

"They want the fence-sitters' votes. The decision to overturn the expulsion is an attempt to fish for votes."

Theng Book said the Dr Chua camp was unfazed but said the CC's action pointed to an unhealthy trend in the party leadership.

"While the constitution does say the CC can review a decision, I don't think they interpreted the article properly.

"The interpretation worked to serve their (Ong's camp) purpose."

Loh Seng Kok, who is on the Central Delegates EGM Action Committee, said the CC's decision could be considered mala fide as it had acknowledged that there would be an EGM.

At the opposing camp, CC members who supported the suspension say it was all done in due process.

Penang deputy MCA chief Eng Hiap Boon said the decision was made in the party's interests and proved the CC was not just a rubber stamp for the presidential council.

"The CC members felt that we must make our own stand… we cannot simply follow the presidential council's decisions.

"If they (Dr Chua's camp) claim that we are run by the appointed (CC) members, then what about the elected members picked by the delegates? You cannot discount us."

Eng noted that by overturning Dr Chua's expulsion, the CC had given his supporters what they wanted.

"Now they are twisting the situation, saying our decision was wrong.What do they want?"

Outside the two camps, party veterans are exasperated over the mess unfolding in the party.

A former vice-president thinks the problem lies squarely with the action committee, led by Datuk Seri Tan Chai Ho.

Datuk Yap Pian Hon said no party member, especially veterans, should forget that every decision made by the leadership must follow the constitution and procedures.

"They (action committee) should have waited for the CC's decision first and if they're still unhappy, then call for an EGM. Now everything has gone upside down."

While the CC defends its decision on grounds of compassion for Dr Chua, his supporters feel the suspension is as good as an expulsion as he will not be in the running for party elections in 2011 or the 13th general election, which must be held by 2013.

That being the case, it does look like Dr Chua is down for the count. But the question remains — will he be out?