‘MCA threatened to quit BN if not allowed to contest in Tg Piai’

All the cards were on the table, or so it seemed, until MCA pulled an Ace. The junior partner in Barisan Nasional (BN) threatened to pull out of the 50-year-old coalition if it was not picked to contest the Tanjung Piai by-election.

(The Sun Daily) – Umno, having alienated the non-Malays with its pact with PAS, knew that without MCA, the coalition was not likely to survive, a source close to the negotiations told theSun yesterday.

It is no secret that without a multiracial base, it is difficult for any political entity to go far in Malaysian politics.

“Finally, Umno was ‘persuaded’ to make way for MCA,” the source said.

“BN is fielding a Chinese candidate so we can show that the ‘muafakat nasional’, or national consensus, is inclusive.”

Just days after the seat fell vacant upon the death of incumbent Datuk Dr Mohd Farid Md Rafik of Pakatan Harapan (PH) on Sept 21, both Umno and MCA have been gunning for the opportunity to field a candidate under the BN banner.

MCA based its claim on the fact that it had traditionally been given the seat, but Umno contended that since the Chinese party failed to win, it should pave the way for others.

The announcement on Wednesday night that MCA’s Datuk Seri Wee Jeck Seng would be BN’s candidate in Tanjung Piai left many in Umno peeved.

The party’s Perlis chief Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim said if BN wanted to win, Umno should be fielding the candidate.

In an immediate reaction, political analyst Khoo Kay Peng agreed that BN must remain multiracial because “for any coalition to govern the country, it has to have a multiracial face”.

“It has to represent the major ethnicities. But going right wing, or Malay only, (such a government) may be more difficult to sustain,” he said.

Umno president Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi gave a less dramatic account of the negotiations that led to Wee’s candidacy.

“Despite strong sentiments against fielding an MCA candidate, the discussion among Umno members was amicable,” he said yesterday.

“What’s important is that everyone agrees to cooperate in helping Wee to win. BN’s objective is to win and contribute to the people in Tanjung Piai, not focus on the candidate’s race,” he added.

Wee will be up against Karmaine Sadini of PH and Gerakan’s Wendy Subramaniam.

Tomorrow is nomination day and if there is a contest, polling will be done on Nov 16.