Sunday, March 07, 2010

On with the MCA Assembly

Plans by dissenting groups to abort the MCA annual general meeting have fizzled out, with more than 500 delegates registering for the assembly here Sunday.

The number surpassed the 200 quorum requirement for the meeting to take place,

Registration started at 3pm Saturday and by 9pm more than 500 central delegates had signed their name to attend the assembly, a staff at the party hadquarters said. Party president Ong Tee Keat was among them.

Registration closes at 10.30am Sunday. A total of 2,397 central delegates are eligible to attend the assembly.

Dr Chua Soi Lek, who resigned as party deputy president on Thursday had speculated that the AGM would not be held after he and second vice-president Liow Tiong Lai led two-thirds of the MCA central committee to quit their posts.

ng-yen-yen-4Another vice-president, Ng Yen Yen (pic) , tendered her resignation on Saturday, the 22nd member quitting a CC position.

It is ironic that after he fought so hard to be reinstated as deputy president and even after humbling himself to work with Ong, his former enemy, Chua has turned around to deal a severe blow to the 'Great Unity Plan' that the two men had forged together.

It was the en bloc resignations led by Chua and Liow that ended the plan and triggered fresh internal polls. Party rules state that new elections must be called within 30 days.

In line with this, the party has set March 28 for new elections.

Party secretary-general Wong Foon Meng announced Saturday that nomination day for the election is March 22.

PM embarrassed, will not attend

It had been a dramatic day for the party, which saw the MCA Youth wing postponing its annual general meeting while the Wanita section went ahead with its own AGM, in the absence of movement chief Chew Mei Fun.

The uncertainties that had surfaced in the MCA have embarrassed Barisan Nasional chief Najib Abdul Razak that he has decided not to open the assembly Sunday.

ong-chua-peaceThe Prime Minister's Office said in a statement that the decision was made after taking into consideration the views of various quarters in the coalition.

"MCA should be given the opportunities to resolve its internal problem.

"It is hoped that the party will be able to resolve the issue and enable MCA leadership to obtain a fresh mandate from party members," the statement said.

Liow and gang boycott dinner

Amid the drama and deepening crisis, however, the MCA continued with its anniversdary dinner at Wisma MCA, which featured the ceremonial flag-raising ceremony, the singing of the national and party anthems and cultural performaces.

Liow and his followers, including Chew and Youth chief Wee Ka Siong were absent from the gathering, which was attended by more than 1,200 members.

Chua and Ng attended the gathering for a while, leaving the Lee San Choon Hall after the anniversary cake cutting ceremony.

Stop the fighting, get on with the job

For many of the outstation members who came, the MCA turmoil has been an exhausting experience.

They only hope the dust will settle soon and the leaders will mend the fences so that they can continue with the job of serving the people.

Tekuk Kemang MCA division chief Yip Lee Kok said, however, he would not be attending the AGM as he had heard that it had been postponed.

“It looks like most of our Youth members are supportive of the CC members who resigned , as there were only 87 delegates who turned up for the Youth AGM, " he said.

He advised party leaders to bury the hatchet after the election and stop blaming each other.

“ I hope all leaders will, sometimes, give in among themselves, to resolve their problems.

"Everyone should be a gentleman and put aside differences. The focus is to built a better and stronger MCA, regardless of who will helm the party.”

James Lee, an MCA member from Taman Setia branch in Pasir Panjang , Negeri Sembilan, said he will continue to support the party, no matter who becomes president.

“ I am just an ordinary member, I work to serve the people and I hope whoever takes charge of the MCA after the March 28 party elections will remember that.

"MCA is the second largest component party of Barisan Nasional. It is a shame if the leaders are bickering among themselves.

"They tend to forget that they are ‘put’ there by the members to serve the community, not for their personal glory.”

James, an architect in Kuala Lumpur, added that because of the turmoil among the top leaders, the MCA is not seen as a party that serves the community but one that only serves the interest of some individuals.

“People tend to see that MCA members only care for their personal interest, which is not true.

"We, the smaller branch of MCA, have always done charity work, such as for old folks and those in need, regardless of their race.

Another long time member of MCA , who wants to be known only as Lee, said: "It is up to the leaders. We do not have the power to decide.

"I only hope their will choose well, ” said the senior citizen, who resides in an old foks home in Port Diockson.

Ong defends reforms

In his dinner address, Ong defended the reforms he was bringing to the party, adding that he would take the blame if his moves had caused discontentment among the party members.

"I had such a dream of initiating change in the political culture in my party and I am duty bound to ensure that my party integrity and credibility are not tarnished by any quarters," he said, urging party members to continue with reforms within the party.

Speaking to the media after the event, he commented on Najib's decision not to attend the AGM.

"We take cognizant that the PM is not coming. We fully understand the scenario," he said.

When asked about the possibility that the turn out Sunday will be very low, Ong merely reminded the delegates of their responsibility as delegates and that they have the obligation to fulfill it in accordance with the AGM requirement.

On whether he would re-contest in the upcoming fresh polls, he said: "The time will come when I will give the necessary answer."

Whither the 'Great Unity Plan'

Delegates who stayed away from the Youth and Wanita meetings defied an order on Friday by Wong to hold the respective AGMs as scheduled.

MCA Youth deputy chief Dr Mah Hang Soon, who led a team in an attempt to continue with its AGM at Legend Hotel here, expressed his disappointment that only 87 of its 1,742 delegates showed up.

He told reporters that only seven of the 53 youth central committee members were present as the rest led, by Wee, did not turn up.

heng seai kieAt Wisma MCA, 350 Wanita delegates led by secretary-general Heng Seai Kie (pic) and national organising secretary Tan Cheng Liang decided to go ahead with their AGM, and appointed Kelana Jaya wanita chief Ong Choon Swen as the new Speaker.

With the minimum required 200 delegates met, they went against Chew, who had announced the postponement of its AGM Friday.

The resignations of the 22 CC members appear to deepen the crisis in the party although some chose to say that it could end the in-fighting that had been going on ever since Ong Ka Ting and Chan Kong Choy stepped down as president and deputy president in the aftermath of the MCA’s worst electoral showing in the March 2008 general election.

They did not name any successor to their respective posts and the scramble for seats became a free-for-all, resulting in Tee Keat and Chua, despite not seeing eye-to-eye, being elected to the No 1 and No 2 seats.

Since October last year, however, a third faction has emerged, led by Liow.

Chua, an off-on-off ally of Tee Keat, is seen as aligning himself now with Liow's group.—Malaysian Mirror

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