Wednesday, March 10, 2010

MCA polls - Shaping up for the crunch

There is a guessing game now. It is to align one MCA leader with another, especially if they are spotted or seen together at political functions, and wonder which camp they belong to, or where their loyalty lies.

For example, some leaders were seen last night with Dr Chua Soi Lek - who recently quit as deputy president - at a function and later joining him for a closed-door briefing for delegates in Yong Peng, Johor.

Among them were incumbent vice-presidents Kong Cho Ha and Ng Yen Yen, former MCA Federal Territory chief Tan Chai Ho, MCA Negeri Sembilan chief Yeow Chai Thiam and MCA youth chief Wee Ka Siong.

Their presence has raised speculation that they might have teamed up with Chua although this was vehemently denied by Wee.

"The speculation on who is aligned to whom, is still open. You don't see the line-up yet. Moreover, no one has been nominated and none has declared which position he or she would contest," he said.

Wee, who is deputy education minister, said his presence on Tuesday night was because he was visiting a school in his constituency, Ayer Hitam in Yong Peng, and he attended the function as a show of respect.

"On whether I have teamed up with Chua, you can ask Liow (MCA vice-president Liow Tiong Lai). I'm still supporting Liow and I went there with his knowledge.

Rumours of Wee teaming up with Chua

"Moreover, there were two ministers (Kong and Ng) who came to my area last night. Is it wrong for me to meet them as I happened to be in the same area?," asked Wee.

Instead, he claimed that rumours of him teaming up with Chua were spread by supporters of party president Ong Tee Keat who wanted to see him severe ties with Liow.

Whether their appearance was merely a coincidence or carefully orchestrated, remains.

There is also talk that Tee Keat might team up with former MCA secretary-general Ong Ka Chuan and Liow in the run-up to the MCA polls on March 28.

MCA veteran leader Yap Pian Hon said, if Tee Keat managed to secure an alliance with Ka Chuan and Liow, it would form a strong team to face Chua as Tee Keat would, at the same time, secure some support from the followers of former president Ong Ka Ting and former deputy president Chan Kong Choy.

"It will be a good thing if this can happen. For the party's sake, all differences must be set aside. Work together as a team. Whether it can be fulfilled, is entirely up to them," he said.

Liow's support comes mostly from the faction aligned to Chan, who still commands the majority support in Pahang, while Ka Chuan and his younger brother, Ka Ting - famously termed as the Ong brothers - still have some support in Johor and Perak, the two states which have the most number of central delegates.

Long standing friendship

Therefore, Yap reasoned, the likelihood of Tee Keat teaming up with the Ong brothers and Liow could not be ruled out as Tee Keat did not have "strong candidates" to form a line-up to contest other top posts in the party, particulary the deputy president and the four vice-president posts.

Political observers also believe that it would not be difficult for Tee Keat and Liow to team up again as their relationship was not totally severed, and Tee Keat had several times mentioned that his door was still open for them.

Apart from that, they have a long standing friendship, particulary when both leaders were in MCA Youth.

A grassroots leader also pointed out that since Liow was allegedly involved in a snoop squad to spy on Chua during Ka Ting's tenure as party president, both of them might find it difficult to work together. Moreover, most of Liow's supporters were previously with the Ong brothers and Chan.

There is also speculation that Chua is trying to form a pact with Liow as this will place him at a very advantageous position. However, Liow's faction has yet to decide which leaders they are going to support as they are still assessing the various possibilities.

There are two differing opinions within Liow's group, with one favouring either Tee Keat or Ka Chuan for the top post as they are worried an alliance with Chua will tarnish their integrity and credibility.

However, the other members in the group believe that an alliance with Chua will benefit them as Chua has strong leadership qualities while at the same time, prevent Tee Keat from benefiting from a multi-cornered fight.

Sex scandal DVD

Some analysts expect Chua to offer himself for one term or as a transition president as his main obstacle is still the sex scandal DVD which caused him to give up all party and government posts in 2008. This may prevent him from holding the position longer.

With this in mind, Chua may opt to go for just one term for the top post to win the support as not all the 2,378 central delegates are hardcore supporters of any leader, with roughly about 30% considered totally independent delegates.

Some party members have been told that the 'pact' would be gradually revealed in the next few days, with Tee Keat expected to announce his decision to defend his presidency, earliest by Friday.

"We were told that it was going to happen in the next few days. It is just a matter of timing before the announcement is made," a grassroots leader from Johor said.

Whatever the outcome, as pointed out by central committee member Ti Lian Ker, one thing is for sure. Every MCA leader is talking to this or that leader through their emissaries.

Their ultimate goal is to finalise an alliance for March 28. — Bernama

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