Saturday, March 06, 2010

Ong Tee Keat hints at defending post

Despite the torrent of blows to his leadership, MCA president Ong Tee Keat today took on a combative position in his opening address to the 56th MCA annual general meeting.

Taking pot shots at his party rivals, he also hinted that he would defend his post during the March 28 polls for the central committee in order to fulfill his party reform agenda.

mca agm 070310 ong tee keat 04According to Ong, even though the new central committee will be elected towards the end of the month, its members' term, in accordance with the party constitution, will end in 2011.

He said that this leaves him with a one year window period to "follow through" with his "path of reforms", thereby signalling his intention to defend his post.

Observers, on the other hand, see his former deputy Dr Chua Soi Lek as the front-runner in the contest.

"We will have reelections on March 28, which is only one year before the 2011 party polls. I hope, in this one year, our party will do everything it can to move forward and it must complete the reform agenda.

"When I was in the hospital, there are people who said that I am not only suffering from pain on my leg, but also my heart. However, despite the pain, I must continue with this path.

"I have walked (this path) yesterday, and today. Tomorrow, I must do the same. There is only one more year to fulfill the reforms. I must follow through with this path of reforms," he said. Standing ovation for Ong This was met by thunderous applause from the 603 delegates present, who rose to their feet for close to a minute.

Ong again drew an eruption of applause when he said he did not care about his detractors nor about his fate as the party president.

"If you think about it, if I was so concerned about my post, then there would have been no need to disturb so many hornets' nests," said Ong, in reference to his attempts to probe the Port Klang Free Zone scandal.

mca agm 070310 ong tee keat 01Ong today defended his reform agenda but admitted that he was too hasty, thus making enemies with those with vested interest.

"Reforms cannot be accomplished overnight. It must go through a period of pain. The leader of the reforms can fall at the slightest mis-step. At the slightest mis-step, he can become the enemy of all.

"Perhaps I was too hasty with reforms. Thus, I again extend my apologies to all my comrades... We all have different opinions, but we must have the sense of camaraderie. Let's not treat 'him' as the enemy."

Ong said all reforms undertaken will be witnessed by the masses and it must be carried out to fulfill the wishes of the party members, the public and to uphold democracy.

Ong also took a swipe at party rivals who boycotted the AGM, although they were part of the central committee (CC) meeting in January which had unanimously decided to hold the AGM today. "On Jan 29, the central committee decided to hold the AGM today. At the time, the first half of the meeting was chaired by Dr Chua Soi Lek, which finalised the AGM date," he said. Twenty one CC members aligned to then-deputy president Chua and vice-president Liow Tiong Lai announced their resignation on Thursday, setting in motion events for the committee's premature dissolution.

Witchhunt fears

Supporters of both Chua and Liow's factions were absent from the AGM today, resulting in only 25 percent of the total 2,378 delegates registering their presence.

Nevertheless, the quorom for the AGM was met. mca agm 070310 crowd 02On the dismal turnout, Ong said it was the responsibility of MCA leaders to attend the AGM. However, he hinted, many may have been absent due to fears that they would later be subject to a witch-hunt. "The central delegates who showed up went through many difficulties. They had to show bravery just to be here," he said. Ong defended his record as MCA president which, among others, led the party to successfully appeal for protection of whistle blowers and increased government funding for Chinese schools. He also said these achievements were made in just nine months of his leadership tenure. Ong's swansong AGM speech as MCA president comes amidst much embarrasment for Ong, who convened an AGM without the presence of Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak or other Barisan Nasional component party leaders. Unlike previous the AGM, the stage was lined up with only one row of seats, instead of the traditional two. Only one-third of the available space in the San Choon hall was used.

'Resignees made AGM illegal'

Meanwhile, refuting claims that the AGM was 'illegal,' party secretary-general Wong Foon Meng said: "If they say that it is illegal, it is those who resigned who made it illegal."

NONE"They should not have resigned before this AGM," he was quoted by Bernama as saying.

He said the rest of the CC who organised the AGM still had the power to administer the party's affairs under Article 41 of the party constitution.

The Youth and Wanita leaders had called off their respective AGMs scheduled yesterday, though 350 Wanita delegates turned up and held their meeting.

Efforts by some Youth delegates to go on with their meeting were dashed by poor attendance.

Speaking to reporters later, Ong refused to confirm if he intends to defend his post, but said he was "seriously considering" the possibility.

"I would consider, seriously, the text messages, messages on Facebook and emails... I am deeply touched by their (support) for me to consider recontesting," he said.

courtesy of Malaysiakini

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