MCA President Dr Chua Soi Lek announced today he would not defend his position in the party polls this Dec 21, saying it was time for him to retire from politics.
He said many supporters had urged him to go back on his May 6 pledge that he would not contest, telling him a four-corner fight would give him an advantage.
“But I don’t want to go down in the history of MCA as a leader with no integrity; when I say I am not defending my position, I mean it,” the veteran politician said at a press conference at the party headquarters here.
He said if he were to stand and win it would be an “empty victory” because he would have backtracked on a promise after his chances had increased.
The MCA leaders gunning for the top position are deputy president Liow Tiong Lai, former president Ong Tee Keat and vice president Gan Ping Sieu.
Chua had vowed to not defend his presidency immediately after last May’s general election, which saw MCA suffer the worst defeat in its history, winning only seven federal and 11 state seats.
But speculation was rife that Chua would renege on his pledge. It was fueled further when he censured his deputy at an annual general meeting in October and gave elusive answers to questions from the media.
But Chua clarified today that the “hard work” he had done in the party since the general election was meant to convince his comrades there was still hope in MCA, not for his own political gain.
He urged his supporters not to “grudge” him his retirement, saying he believed he had earned it.
“Of course, there are people who think that I will not give up easily; hence I will seek re-election. Once again I would like to emphasise that I am not giving up, but giving way to new blood.
“After my retirement, I will continue to play whatever role I can to contribute to the transformation of MCA and to strengthen the Barisan Nasional.”
He said that the MCA leadership needed to give room for the younger generation, but he did not endorse any candidate in the party election.
Chua also urged party veterans to not use the polls as a means to settle old scores and warned businessmen to stay away from the proceedings.
“Every time businessmen come in, money is involved,” he said. “MCA must stand firm and reject money politics in party elections. If we are involved in money, it will only serve to devalue the position of the MCA party president and other posts.”
He urged party members, including the leaders, to practise the “politics of transforming MCA” and to close ranks once the polls were over.
Chua was optimistic that the tide of voter sentiment would turn towards MCA in the next general election.