Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Dr Chua's power play

THE SOI LEK RIDDLE SPECULATION is rife over Dr Chua Soi Lek's sudden decision to quit the post of MCA deputy president, particulary over the timing of the resignation and his next move.

While some claim it was due to the fact that he could not work with party president Ong Tee Keat, many attribute it to the 'power play' within the party.

mca-ong-chua-liowThe grapevine has it that Chua turned his back on Ong to force a fresh party election after he was said to have received tacit support from vice-president Liow Tiong Lai, as well as Youth chief Wee Ka Siong.

A vernacular newspaper reported that following secret talks, both Liow and Wee had handed Chua two sets of forms nominating the latter for the No 1 post in the fresh party polls, with Liow also acting as seconder for Wee's nomination and vice-versa.

In return, Chua nominated Liow for the party's No 2 post.

Liow and Wee, however, have denied there was such a pact.

Chua quit his party post, along with seven central committee (CC) members aligned to him, just three days before the MCA annual general meeting last Sunday. Vice-president Ng Yen Yen quit her post on the eve of the assembly.

Absolute power

Some party members claim there was an earlier deal between Ong and Chua, where the party president would gradually relinquish his power and make way for the doctor to take over the baton before the Chinese New Year.

However, the Year of the Tiger is already a month old and Ong has now been accused of planning to table a special resolution at the assembly to set up a general election steering committee, headed by him.

Ong's plan, which was reportedly "leaked" several days before the AGM, would have given him absolute power to decide on the candidate and constituency for the MCA in the next general election, expected in 2013.

This, said party insiders, would reduce Chua's role in the party's preparations for the polls and the bargaining chip of his faction and prompted him to abandon the party's so-called 'Greater Unity Plan.'

However, this accusation against Ong was denied by his supporters. Instead, they accused Chua of planning the entire scenario.

Sex video scandal

They said, since the time Chua relinquished his party and government posts following his sex video scandal, he had systematically planned his strategies and made a remarkable comeback, as follws:

egm delegates
Flashback to Oct 10, 2009 - A superficial show of solidarity by delegates to the MCA extraordinary general meeting
First, as the party's deputy president in 2008 before being dismissed of his party membership by the presidential council.

Then, through an extraordinary general meeting (EGM), casting a no-confidence vote against the party president.

However, the October EGM saw both Ong and Chua defeated and teaming up later to form a partnership before breaking-up again last Thursday.

"All these events showed his (Chua's) capacity in deploying his political strategies. Since Liow and his men submitted their undated resignation letters in December last year, he (Chua) knew that the ball was already in his court," claimed a supporter of Ong.

Thus, Ong's supporters reasoned, Chua had brilliantly planned his move with sufficient time to mobilise the grassroots to have the edge to kickstart the party's fresh poll.

However, Chua has strongly dismissed such notion, by reiterating that as chairman of the party's re-election committee, he had been receiving resignation letters since January.

In fact, he said, he was merely doing his job in announcing that the 21 resignations needed for a fresh poll had reached its target on March 3. "I did not choose the date," he said.

Minor Cabinet reshuffle

Some political analysts even went further by linking Chua's resignation with talks that there might be a minor Cabinet reshuffle next month.
"Some felt there was a need to get rid of Ong as party president as, in the event of a Cabinet reshuffle, the president would have the power to make the relevant recommendations.

"That is why the Ong's detractors have picked this time," said an analyst.

However, whatever the reasons leading to Chua's decision to resign, just three days before the AGM, is not important anymore as the party is still going to face a fresh poll on March 28, with nomination on March 22.

Many see Chua going for the party presidency since he has been meeting the party grassroots through several closed-door briefing sessions lately.

However, Chua is still keeping party watchers and analysts guessing on his next move when he replied: "I don't know yet." — Bernama

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