Wednesday, March 24, 2010

MCA Polls - Ong Tee Keat sticks to his menu

THE upcoming  MCA election serves as a platform for delegates to say they want to 'bite the bullet' now so that they can stand tall after the 13th general election.

Stating this, incumbent president Ong Tee Keat added:

"Over the past 17 months, the party and I have been hurt and wounded by certain quarters who resist change and still want to live in their comfort zones.

ong_teekeat2"But I am not deterred because I believe the overwhelming majority of members want to see MCA transform," he told a dinner crowd in Seremban on Wednesday night.

Amidst the mud-slinging that has become part of the menu in the run up to the MCA polls, Tee Keat continues to stick to his guns and maintains that his is a presidency that values integrity and good governance

He said a vote for him is a vote for transformation; an endorsement that the party needs to discard its old ways of doing things.

He also emphasised that it would be a vote for the  MCA to be a respectable political party, not a social organisation. It is a vote for the MCA to stand up and be heard, and not cowed into submission, he added.

The presidency contest in the March 28 polls - where the winner will serve for a year until the party's triennial general assembly next year - will see a three-cornered fight involving Tee Keat and challengers Dr Chua Soi Lek and Ong Ka Ting.

A total of 2,378 central delegates are eligible to cast their votes on Sunday.

Tee Keat, who was elected president in October 2008, is seeking to complete his three-year term right up to the next general assembly in 2011.
Not perturbed by crowd showing
Since nomination day on March 22, he has traversed the country to meet the delegates and he has so far covered the northern grounds of Penang, Kedah and Perlis.

His campaign has now moved south, with pit stops around the Klang Valley.

He has, so far, stayed away from smearing his rivals and had focussed largely on his 1MCA manifesto of five key result areas (KRAs) that include partnerships with non-governmental organisations, direct presidential elections and getting talented young Malaysians to steer the party and the Barisan Nasional to victory at the next general elections.

While pundits have pointed out that crowd showings indicated that Tee Keat has now become the underdog in the race, he is not perturbed.

"Certain people have been spinning stories, even to the extent of judging the size of crowds, " he told reporters after a lunch meeting with delegates in Klang on Wednesday.

The attendance was considered meagre in comparision with the dinner functions that were attended by Chua and Ka Ting.

"But I will stay focussed bedcause I know what I am doing and I will certainly remain unbitten by any side issues," said Tee Keat, who has not named a running mate.

There are only two contenders for the deputy presidency, and neither Kong Cho Ha nor Liow Tiong Lai is travelling with Tee Keat on his campaign trail.

Kong is said to be allied to Chua's faction while Liow had said he was comfortable to be Ka Ting's running mate.

A total of 103 candidates are contesting in the extraordinary polls, including 10 for the four vice-president posts at stake and 86 for the 25-seat central committee.
Taking the bull by the horns
In his lone charge, Tee Keat is taking the bull by the horns in many daunting issues, chiefly those connected with the Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ) controversy which has been a thorn in MCA politics.

Tee Keat, who is Transport Minister, had previously initiated an independent audit by PricewaterhouseCoopers Advisory Services, which has led to the arrests of several senior officers.

Reforms were later proposed by an ad-hoc committee on corporate governance led by Transparency International.

He intends to announce a series of initiatives, including the formation of an independent team of observers and key performance indicators (KPIs) that will be made public.

ong-tee-keat-dinnerDuring his current tenure, the MCA had also co-ordinated a series of roundtable discussions with inter-faith council MCCBCHST  to promote understanding between various religions following a spate of attacks on churchs and surau.

On rumours that he will withdraw from the race, Tee Keat told a gathering of Shah Alam and Klang delegates: "It's a joke and not a very entertaining one."

Tee Keat said he is willing to take part in a televised debate with his challengers, as suggested by some quarters, to thrash out outstanding issues in the party.

"I think it is a good suggestion and I have also been aproached by the electronic media about it.

"But all three candidates must agree to it otherwise it will not serve any purpose," he told reporters in Seremban on Wednesday night.

Chua had said he is not keen to have such debate, reasoning that  a public debate now is 'too late.'

Johor Baru Wanita MCA division chief Wong You Fong said such debate would allow  delegates to assess the top aspirants' qualities, adding that it should be in Chinese and English and aired over national TV.
'Polls have far-reaching consequences'
Meanwhile, Tee Keat continues to gain momentum in his campaign and gaining supporters who feel he should not be punished for issues like the PKFZ.

Wanita MCA national organising secretary Tan Cheng Liang said: "When he took over  the reins of the party, he went all out to get to the bottom of the scandal. It would have been easier if he did not stir up the hornet's nest."

Tan, who is gunning for a central committee seat, commended Tee Keat for opening Wisma MCA  for the congregation of the Metropolitan Tabernacle Church to carry out their services after an arson attack on the church.

Senator Heng Seai Kie, another CC candidate for the upcoming polls, would have far-reacing consquences for the MCA.

"People are watching. The last general election served as a wake up call to the Barisan. For our political survival, the reforms are a must to bring MCA back on track."

Kapar delegate Cheng Siow Liong, 72, who has been a party member for 55 years, added: "Integrity, transparency and good governance are steadfast values that Tee Keat stands for. He believes such values restore confidence and return the trust of the people to the party."

Selangor delegate Peter Khoo said the party could not afford to have a morally tainted politician to be its leader, adding that if Ong was corrupt, "he would not have taken the route of initiating transformation in the party."—Malaysian Mirror

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