Najib’s man in the MCA driver’s seat

By Zainal Epi, Free Malaysia Today

As early as 1pm yesterday, the MCA headquarters in Jalam Ampang was abuzz with talk, while SMSes were flying about, that Dr Chua Soi Lek had clinched the party presidency.

However at 4pm, the positions changed with incumbent Ong Tee Keat being touted as having the upper hand, with Chua falling behind while former president Ong Ka Ting was said to be already out of the race.

Around 6.50pm, victory cheers reveberated at the entrance of the building when Chua alighted from his car. 

He was mobbed by press photographers who urged him to show his index finger to indicate that he is ‘number one’.

He obliged and true enough, 10 minutes later his name was announced as the new president of MCA, polling 901 votes against Ka Ting’s 833 with Tee Keat far behind with 578 votes.

It was a hard fought battle for Chua, who had to ride on the waves of protests surrounding his 2007 sex scandal, and later put in cold storage while being Tee Keat’s deputy and subsequently expelled  before being reinstated as number two last October.

While Chua was forced to confront the turbulences on his own, as far as MCA was concerned, there was one man outside the party who placed his faith in him – Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak.

In the middle of last year, Najib appointed Chua as Barisan Nasional’s coordinating unit head to plan and strategise how to win back the states lost to Pakatan Rakyat in the March 2008 general election.

Left with nothing, Chua had used this position to meet with MCA grassroots leaders as well as other BN leaders. It had ensured that the veteran politician remained relevant.