Monday, March 22, 2010

Ong Ka Ting: Don't play the blame game

Although MCA endured heavy losses during the March 2008 general elections, then president Ong Ka Ting said the blame cannot be placed squarely on him.

In an exclusive interview with Malaysiakini on Saturday, Ka Ting said some Barisan Nasional component parties fared even worse, yet none of their leaders has stepped down.

ong ka ting interview 200310 07In Ka Ting's case, he points out that he personally performed well during the polls, bagging a 17,000 majority the Kulai constituency of which 70-percent of the electorate were non-Malays.

"Some people have asked me: Why is it that I am the one who has to step down?" said Ka Ting.

In the 2008 polls, MCA only won a mere 15 out of 40 Parliamentary seats and 31 out of 90 state legislative assembly seats contested.

Ka Ting stayed out of the subsequent party polls later that year, in an apparent bid to take responsibility for the party's electoral setbacks.

His detractors are claiming that the dismal showing by MCA was the result of the Chinese community's rejection of Ka Ting's leadership.

They argue that should he be made party president on March 28, the party would face further rejection from the Chinese community.

Chief among reasons used by critics to attack Ka Ting's leadership was the fielding of many fresh faces during the 2008 polls, who mostly floundered miserably.

Not bothered with 'snoop squad' row

Asked on this, Ka Ting disclaimed responsibility, adding that in all probability, old faces would have fared even worse at the polls.

"There were a lot of constituencies which we will lose even if the old faces were retained. If we were to look at the voting trend, any candidate would have lost (in those seats)," he said.

Ka Ting said that as soon as the general elections were over, those who failed to be retained as candidates conveniently attack his leadership and blamed him for MCA's bad fortunes.

"Of course, I did not refute this because at the time, I hope that by shouldering the blame, it would be the end to the blame game," said Ka Ting, while gesturing with his hands to simulate the heaving of a large sack over his shoulders.

ong ka ting and mca snoop squadAnother often quoted Achilles' Heel of Ka Ting's is his alleged links with the 'snoop squad' controversy, which has again surfaced his rumours of his return to active politics started churning.

Ka Ting again brushed off the allegations, noting that an internal inquiry had cleared him of any wrong doing. He said those raising the 'snoop squad' spectre at this time merely were out to tarnish his image.

"This chapter has been closed long ago. I (was proven to be) completely innocent," he said.

Ka Ting was accused of masterminding a group consisting of three MCA leaders tasked with exposing skeletons in their opponents closets before the March 2008 general elections.

'I'm no demigod'

Ka Ting also laughed off oft-repeated suggestions that he had masterminded his return to active politics, by fueling the feud between incumbent president Ong Tee Keat and his estranged deputy Dr Chua Soi Lek.

The theory goes that Ka Ting used delegates aligned to him during the Oct 10, 2009 extraordinary general meeting to vote against both Tee Keat and Soi Lek in several resolutions.

ong ka ting interview 200310 06"This is laughable and unbelievable. If I had that much influence, I'd be a demigod. If I am that power crazy, I need not have stepped down in the first place," he said.

Ka Ting refuses to reveal at this point of time whether he would seek a Cabinet post should he emerge victorious on March 28, nor does he wants to reveal whether he will would defend his post in the 2011 party polls.

"I have not thought of this, because the priority now is to resolve the party problems. It is too premature to make any decisions," he said.

"If I'm elected (as president), then I will use the party mechanisms to look at this (whether to be nominated as a Cabinet minister). I have not decided on this now," he added.

No 'green light' from Najib

Meanwhile, Ka Ting also denied rumours that he has the backing of Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak, stressing that MCA must remain independent of outside influence.

"My decision has nothing to do with the prime minister. I'm sure he only knew of my decision after my announcement. I did not seek his blessings.

mca re-election nomination 220310 ong ka ting"He has nothing to do with the MCA polls. I don't see a need to seek his blessings. MCA must be independent and stand on its own two feet... This is an important principle," he said.

Though the one-long interview was primarily about MCA, Ka Ting notes that MCA must also reform itself to survive in a new environment which he describes as a two-party system.

He said though Barisan Nasional is still strong after the March 2008 elections, the balance of power within the coalition is heavily tilted towards Umno, which controls most seats in Parliament.

He said now the Chinese community has fewer representatives in BN and this would be to the community's detriment.

Moreover, Ka Ting lamented that MCA leaders were too busy squabbling at a time when Najib was busy introducing reforms to the government and Umno.

Thus, Ka Ting said these leaders need to be replaced in order for MCA to participate efficiently in BN's policy making process, or else the party would become a "lame duck".

courtesy of Malaysiakini

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