Friday, March 12, 2010

MCA polls: No contest formula on table?

Could potential candidates for the MCA fresh polls work out some sort of no-contest formula before the party nominations on March 22?

With 16 days to go before the delegates cast their votes, there is already talk that such option has been put on the table for the various factions in the party to try to work out an alliance which may eventullay lead to a situation where most of the key posts in the party are decided without the need for a contest.

With the party split three ways and no clear indication that any group can boast of majority support among the 2,380 central delegates, such proposal is among the options being bandied around to their respective leaders and supporters as they continue to explore their options.

In fact, one of the formulae or options forwarded by deputy president Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek's group is for all the positions to remain uncontested and the status quo maintained, except for the presidency where they have suggested that president Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat make way and in return, be allowed to keep his minister's post at least until the next general election.

They also suggested that vice-president Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai take up the number two post while former secretary-general Datuk Seri Ong Ka Chuan be returned as secretary-general and all the leaders with cabinet positions also be retained.

Under this proposed deal, Liow is expected to take over in the next party polls, expected to be in October, 2011.

"One of the options is to ask Ong Tee Keat to make way, but all the others remained as status quo, based on the results of the last party election. The only thing is that we need to talk about who should be fielded for president," a source close to Chua said.

"Why not? It has happened before. Last time, we had nominations without contest. If they can reach consensus, why not? But this time around, I believe it would be a bit tough," added the source.

The MCA underwent party elections without contest for all party top posts in its parent body and Central Committee (CC) in 2002 under formula brokered by then prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad to end the infamous "Team A-Team B" fight following the decision by the party to take over Nanyang Press Holdings Berhad.

Easier said than done

However, not all the leaders are agreeable to this formula and there is talk that Tee Keat's faction is also putting out a formula where most of the key positions are to remain uncontested and he be given the oppurtunity to lead the party at least until the party elections in October next year.

Former MCA secretary-general Datuk Seri Ong Ka Chuan also said that he was trying to suppress the "intensity" of the elections and minimise the damage that it can do to the party through certain formula but refused to reveal any except to say that "we need wisdom and patience to realise the formula"

However, MCA veteran Datuk Yap Pian Hon said a negotiated formula was very much easier said than done.

"Every delegate has the right to put in his nomination and contest the position he wants. How can we stop them from contesting. The only way that such things can happen is if everybody is really willing to give way," he said.

Yap said that during the Team A-Team B fight, such consensus could be worked out because the CC members had not resigned and both the then president, Tan Sri Ong Ka Ting, and his deputy, Tan Sri Chan Kong Choy, had total control of the CC.

"Now it is a different scenario. Even if they can reach an agreement on the party presidency, who would be the deputy president as many people want to contest the position," he added.

Yap said he had heard of such option being offered but he still felt it would not be easy as now everyone was fighting for position and some delegates were wary of interference from outside parties.

Solving the crisis

Sources from all the three factions contacted confirmed that several options, including the possibility of no-contest, were being put on the table but said it would not be easy to achieve as most of the leaders did not trust each other.

But Prime Minister and Barisan Nasional chairman Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak wants a solution as soon as possible, whether through elections or an understanding, as long as the MCA emerges as a credible force to represent principally the Chinese community and Malaysians as a whole.

Whether it is through fresh polls or negotiated settlement, the party leaders should perhaps note the point raised by Tan Siok Choo, the granddaugther of MCA founding father Tun Tan Cheng Lock.

She said the past 17 months had already seen three tests for the top leadership - the first was the October 2008 party elections, second, the extraordinary general meeting (EGM) on Oct 10 last year and third, the March 28 party elections with nominations on March 22.

"While many analysts and top Umno leaders have lauded the resignations as a "good move" and the first step towards ending the crisis in the MCA, their comments overlook one salient fact - elections don't resolve crisis, people do.

"If two trials of strength have failed to settle the simmering differences among top party leaders, why would a third bout end the internecine infighting within the MCA, particularly if campaigning becomes cut throat and if there are three factions involved?," she wrote in a commentary published recently in a local daily.

- Bernama

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