Saturday, March 27, 2010

MCA presidential race too close to call

Uncertainty continues to reign over who will claim the bitterly-contested MCA presidency, even as the final hours on the campaign clock for tomorrow’s party polls tick away.
One thing is for certain, the party’s 2,378 delegates are expected to turn out in full force to cast their ballots in an election that will determine the party’s survival following the protracted leadership crisis.

Since 3pm today, the MCA party headquarters was crawling with delegates arriving from across the country, all eager to get a head start in registering their names for the second party election in two years.

Tonight, all candidates will get their last swipe at grabbing support for themselves, as party delegates converge for a pre-EGM dinner at the party’s headquarters on Jalan Ampang here.

Until this evening, however, there was still no clear indication which of the presidential hopefuls — incumbent Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat, former deputy president Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek or former president Tan Sri Ong Ka Ting — have garnered the most support in the very close race.

Talk is that Tee Keat is popular with the general public; Dr Chua has the party grassroots support; while Ka Ting is in the lead with many of the party veterans. But their fate lies in the hands of the 2,378 delegates and not those outside the Dewan San Choon polling station.

Over the week, Tee Keat, who was once touted as the underdog in the fight, seemed to have turned things in his favour, with a public poll showing he has support to continue as party president.

The embattled leader, with persistency and consistency in propagating his transformation and change agenda, has gone on a tell-all binge by hinting to the people how he had become a victim of an intricate conspiracy engineered by his predecessor, Ka Ting.

Tee Keat had, however, steered clear of passing judgement on his other rival, Dr Chua, and had chosen instead to expound on his greater plans for the future of MCA.

Dr Chua, however, wasted no time in playing the role of the injured party and lamented how he had been the target of a vicious plan to oust him before his time, in the 2007 sex DVD scandal that prematurely ended his political career.

By pre-empting any moves from his political foes to use the sex scandal to demonise him, it appeared that it was Dr Chua who cleverly used the controversy as his trump card.

His message is clear: “I admitted my mistake but they kicked me out again. Do not use this forever against me. The other two have had the chance to serve as president while I have not. Give me that chance.”

Ka Ting, in the meantime, has been on a tireless journey across the country, rounding up support from old friends and colleagues from the grassroots, hoping to revive their belief in him.

His campaign stance is to tell the people, “Forget the other two, they were the cause of this crisis. You know me; I have worked for five years as president. Vote for me, I can unite the factions.”

Denying that he wants to be seen as a saviour of the party, Ka Ting told The Malaysian Insider on nomination day that, “I am not here as a faction, I am here to unite the factions.”

How much inroads these three candidates have made over the past week will be revealed when the results come out after 7pm tomorrow.

CC candidate Datuk Tan Chin Meng told The Malaysian Insider this evening that the atmosphere at Dewan San Choon was almost palpable this afternoon, charged with excitement and hope.

“People were in good spirits. There was no indication of any tenseness and I think this is because everyone is ready for a good show tomorrow,” he said.

He added that it was hard to judge from the events of the past week just how much support any of the three presidential candidates had.

“The turnout at dinners and luncheons during the candidates’ campaign trails cannot be any indication of support. Similarly, if a function receives poor response, it does not mean that the delegates are not in support of the candidate.

“Somehow, with the present crisis having extended for so long, it looks as if everyone wants to cast their own votes and not the votes they were told to cast by their divisional leaders,” he said.

Tan added that tomorrow’s expected mammoth turnout would be reflective of just how concerned the party’s delegates were over the state of MCA and how badly they wanted the fresh polls to lead them out of crisis.

Former CC member Wong Nai Chee agreed with Tan and reiterated how crowd size at campaign functions were poor yardsticks to measure support.

“People may greet you with a smile but they may not vote for you. Or they may not attend your luncheon but they could still vote for you. Crowd size, to me, is just a smoke screen.

“We cannot gauge at this point just who has the most support,” he said.

CC candidate Gan Ping Sieu agreed that Tee Keat’s support lay with the general public and that this may not be translated into votes, since it would be the central delegates who would become kingmakers, not the public.

“But you never know. If everyone truly wants the party out of this crisis, the delegates have to take heed of what the public want from the party because they would be the ones determining our survival in the next party elections,” he said.

Until zero hour, however, the air of uncertainty still hangs heavily over the future of MCA.

courtesy of Malaysian Insider

No comments: