Saturday, March 06, 2010

'Farewell' speech: Tee Keat sorry for mistakes

Barely hours before the disputed MCA AGM tomorrow, party president Ong Tee Keat delivered a moving farewell speech at the party's 61th anniversary dinner, apologising for his mistakes in his 19-month tenure.

mca anniversary dinner ong tee keat speech“I have done some soul searching. Ever since I assumed the post (party president) in Oct 18, 2008, I may have made some mistakes.

"Everybody will make mistakes, especially when I am rushing the reform agenda. This may cause discomfort to you all… I apologise.”

The outgoing president also called for unity amongst the various party factions, adding that this would be the only way for the battered MCA to regain its former glory.

He said he was willing to sacrifice himself to reform MCA and does not care about how the public will judge him.

Buried hatchet with Chua

Ong also set the record straight on his relationship with Dr Chua Soi Lek, stating that he had buried the hatchet with his enemy-turned-deputy last year despite some initial hiccups.

The many twists in MCA this week was a culmination of events that dates back to the party elections in 2008 when Ong and Chua fought bitterly for control of the party.

mca anniversary dinner ong shake hand with chuaSubsequently, after winning the presidency, Ong tried his best to keep his new deputy Chua on a leash but later had him suspended for four years under dubious disciplinary charges.

Following the extraordinary general meeting (EGM) last October, Chua was reinstated as deputy president and a vote of no-confidence passed against Ong, but he refused to resign, setting in motion calls for fresh elections.

The push for fresh polls was initially made by vice-president Liow Tiong Lai, backed by Wanita chief Chew Mei Fun and Youth chief Wee Ka Siong, who tried for months since last November to convince enough central committee members to resign to pave way for new elections.

In a surprise move, Chua and his loyalist central committee members finally delivered the numbers on Thursday, catching Ong off guard.

Stop using Umno as a crutch

In his speech, Ong also took potshots at Chua, Liow and their allies, by strongly hinting that their move against him had the blessings of Umno and its president, Najib Abdul Razak.

mca anniversary dinner ong with party membersThe embattled MCA chief said he chose not to use a wheelchair or crutches, but instead hobbled to the stage although he was in deep pain as he was recovering from a leg surgery.

"I have stopped using the wheelchair and crutches. I prefer to walk by myself," said Ong, who was met with thunderous applause from the floor and a standing ovation from his most ardent loyalists.

"MCA does not need crutches. We must tread our path with our own feet and we do not need anyone for guidance."

Chua pays little attention

Chua, who made a surprise appearance at the dinner along with his supporters, appeared indifferent to Ong's impassioned speech.

“I did not pay much attention," he told reporters later.

Chua said he was not here to endorse Ong as he will not attend the AGM tomorrow because the meeting's validity had been disputed.

Supporters of both Ong and Chua attended the dinner in their thousands as a show of support for their respective leaders. Liow and his loyalists were however nowhere to be seen.

Speaking to reporters later, Ong said Najib had to make a difficult decision to skip the AGM tomorrow but vowed that the event shall proceed as scheduled.

He also refused to reveal whether he will defend his position come nomination day on March 22. Polls will be held on March 28.

"I will make an announcement when the time comes," he said.

courtesy of Malaysiakini

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