MCA’s three-ring circus rolls around

In the past, there was only a Team A vs Team B; now there are Teams X, Y and Z. With the party already so split, will the March 28 elections lead to unity? There would be animosity even if Ka Ting becomes president again.

Kee Thuan Chye, Free Malaysia Today

Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat just doesn’t know when to quit, does he? Despite his bravado in promising to step down before the mess hit the fan at the MCA’s extraordinary general meeting last Oct 10, he is still adamant that he will be an asset to a beleaguered party split apart by his high-handedness as president. He has declared — the first candidate to do so — that he will defend his position at the coming party elections on March 28.

This is the very man who promised to quit as president if the no-confidence vote against him at the EGM was passed by just one vote. It was actually passed by a margin of 14, with 1,155 delegates voting for it and 1,141 against. He should have kept his word, and done the honourable thing; instead, he chose to stay on.

That more than 600 members attended the party’s annual meeting on March 7 indicates that he enjoys their support, but that is only a quarter of the 2,379 delegates who will vote in two weeks. Besides, some of those 600 could have attended the AGM just to hedge their bets; there may be opportunists among them who will switch loyalties if another faction looks the surer winner. Furthermore, the political complexion has just changed, now that former president Tan Sri Ong Ka Ting has also announced his candidacy.

This is another pathetic twist to the MCA soap opera. In 2008, Ka Ting was the one who led the party to its worst general election defeat ever, losing more than half the seats it had held. In his tenure as president, he was not noted for having any gumption in standing up to Umno’s trampling over Chinese concerns. He also didn’t stand up for Tee Keat when the latter was reprimanded in 2006 by Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, then deputy prime minister, for urging the Education Ministry to act on corruption in Chinese schools.

What will Datuk Dr Chua Soi Lek and Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai, who have been touted as likely candidates, do now? Chua had been considered the front-runner because, pundits say, he could rely on the support of at least 900 delegates. How will his chances be affected with Ka Ting’s entry? As for Liow, since a large chunk of his supporters are also those of Ka Ting’s, will he settle for the number two position?