Joey of audie61 received a number of smses and emails and mosts of it refers to “marriage of conveniences and now it’s time to break-up. Surely its also to take a dig at (Information.Communications and Culture Federal Minister) Raiz Yatims,”Inter marriages comments.” Also some said SPDP/PRS if merged will also lead to a SPLIT so better don’t KAHWIN(marry/merge)..
The second-largest BN coalition partner, the 61-year-old MCA is back on the public’s radar with a vengeance for all the wrong reasons, as the party is riven by internecine warfare.
Some described this week’s tactical power play within the MCA leadership has having trapped its embattled president Ong Tee Keat (left) in a politically checkmated position.
His principal rival turned ally under the so-called greater unity plan, his deputy Chua Soi Lek, had ambushed him with his resignation together with seven of his elected central committee supporters, forcing fresh polls for end of this month.
Will the latest scenario be a turning point for the MCA embittered by a hawkish president whose inclination seemed to be engaging in a year -long rivalry with his deputy president with the end result being the party splintering into cliques and factions?
Generally, will the party be able to heal in time to unite and win back Chinese support for the next general elections?
Former MCA’s research and planning department chief Stanley Koh talked to Malaysiakini.
Malaysiakini: What’s your read on the latest turn of events leading to the resignations of Chua Soi Lek as deputy president and the seven of his central committee supporters? That adds up to 21 resignations, with 13 from the Liow Tiong Lai faction.
Koh: Well, Chua has mentioned or reminded those who were surprised at his latest move that he had in fact said March to be a month when fresh elections could be held.
Despite many of us, including myself, being taken aback, I think the surprising element was either in the timing or that few of us actually believed him. I had doubts that he was committed and would actually contribute to events leading to fresh party polls.
But I must add that he had strategically timed the submission of the all resignations, coming as they did just before the party AGM and anniversary celebration.
So you agree that it may be a strategic move or carefully thought out and staged?
Yes, that is the significance of his move, joining his numbers with that of Liow’s 13, and so getting the two-thirds of central committee out of the president’s power bloc.
That actually cornered Ong Tee Keat, forcing him to hold fresh elections in the party.
Do you think as speculated or some claim, there was collusion between Chua and Liow? Reportedly, both Chua and Liow had maintained that there was no pre-planned contact or negotiation before the resignations.
If you remember, Ong (Tee Keat) wrote in his blog that he had anticipated the move by Chua. For any shrewd politician desperately hanging clinging to power, I am sure mulling over such a possible scenario is natural.
Let me put it this way, say, if you are leading one of the three factions, wouldn’t you ponder the possibility of the other two joining forces to gang up on you? I am not saying it actually happened but the suspicion is always there.
Are you saying that Ong had miscalculated Chua’s move?
I think Ong had thought of such a scenario but failed to anticipate the timing, if not , probably miscalculated the timing of Chua’s move.
If you had read Chua’s (right)press release after chairing some committee on holding fresh party elections it suggested or gave the impression that the numbers required (two-thirds resignation of the central committee) failed to materialise. The conclusion, no fresh elections could take place.
In short, it became a red herring instead of a red alert.
Another indication, I remember a top party official who had phoned on the day of Chua’s announcement of the resignation who had described the “event” as a stab in the back (of the president), which made me think that the resignations may have actually caught Ong by surprise.
Or were there any reasons for Chua’s sudden move?
Obviously the so-called “Greater Unity Plan” had failed soon after that announcement, the re-shuffling of the guards in the party.
I mean, there have been peace plans before, and never like under this leadership when you drop leaders, some called it sacking, contributing meaningfully to peace within a party. That’s common sense.
But then common sense in politics can be uncommon, especially for those apparently lacking wisdom in understanding the essence of a peace plan.
During the Ling (Liong Sik)-Lim (Ah Lek) leadership crisis, no one was sacked or dropped, the status quo was maintained during that peace plan.
Despite all the publicity of the Greater Peace Plan, I gathered from an insider that the working relationship between Ong (president) and his deputy Chua continued to be strained and they had had decision-making or policy differences.
That probably made Chua think twice or even prompted him against continued cooperation.
There is this sensitive question, do you think there is any influence from powerful external sources (i.e. Umno) determining MCA’s course of action in resolving its problems?
Let me put it this way. First, by virtue of MCA’s position and role to pull in Chinese votes as a BN component, you as big brother, wouldn’t you be concerned? I think the answer is obvious.
Two, there had been statements made by top Umno leaders before, reminding Ong to put his own house in order.
Three, on record, Umno has intervened in MCA crises before, notably the Ling-Lim leadership tussle.
So if you try to convince the man in the street that there is no interference, do you think he will believe you?
At the back of our minds, in fact especially to seasoned political observers, the power brokers had always been Umno.
And I must add that certain quarters had fully exploited the notion that Ong can stand up against external influences or pressures.
Of course, the purpose is to project an image that says “you see, we have a leader who can refuse to listen or pander to the wishes of big brother”.
The propaganda agenda of course is to canvas greater backing from within the party’s ranks for the president.
Conversely, few of us really know how the person (president) actually behaves or talks to Umno top leaders (in private or on a person-to-person face off).
What I mean is, hypothetically, he could behave like a hero outside but be a “yes” man away from the public eye.
How do you assess the position of the party president at this point following the care-taker’s meeting with decisions affecting the youth and women’s wings?
Ong’s favourite song is “Love Me Tender”. I can only put this in a way that the decision or advice to pressure the youth and women’s wings to hold their respective AGMs and subject their office-bearers to fresh elections will not endear the president to a large number of delegates from the wings for sure.
I think Ong can also sing, “My Way.” If you remember the lyrics: “And now the end is near, and so I face the final curtain….” Yes, Ong is inevitably facing his final leadership days.
Do you think he can still muster public support by playing up the PKFZ (Port Klang Free Trade zone) issue?
It is ironical. What is happening now is not the PKFZ issue which probably will put end to his political career.
It is his poor leadership as party presidentwhich many claim is the root cause of MCA’s perpetual instability.
Not forgetting earlier that his political rivals had criticised him for projecting himself a hero on the PKFZ issue to justify the continuation of his tenure in office.
Ong had likened his situation to committing political suicide by tackling the issue head-on which probably antagonised some powerful quarters.
But more and more among the party rank and file actually are convinced that Ong’s political career is jeopardised by his own follies within the party and his erratic leadership.
There had been some comments that he is a good leader, with courage and so on and so forth? While others claimed he is a failed leader….?
Any judgement is always subjective. I don’t think he can blame anybody for his failed leadership (as claimed) but himself, if only he had evaluated his leadership weaknesses honestly, critically and with humility from the day he was elected in 2008.
I think, the day he backtracked on his own words by not resigning or stepping down following the no-confidence against him was the turning point in his political career.
If only Ong had remembered how the former Ling Liong Sik leadership had treated him when he was youth chairman, he wouldn’t have allowed a repeat of the scenario facing the youth and women’s wings by throwing the party’s constitution at them.
He might be following the letter strictly but has killed the spirit of the constitution.
It is not supposed to be used as a weapon to fight your political rivals or dissenters. Or what is the purpose of singing the party song with lyrics of unity?
Do you think the MCA will have a better future with a change in leadership and be prepared for the next general elections?
Let us face facts. First, I was criticised when I once mentioned that MCA has forever lost its glory. I don’t see any glory in the party under Ong Tee Keat’s leadership.
Some critics alleged that the president is more interested in “feng shui,” believing that the practice could help smoothen his presidency.
Ong had said he did not believe in the 100 days achievement stuff. Yet he praised the prime minister for achieving so much within the first 100 days.
Even if Ong had recorded some achievements, unfortunately his political blunders and bitter row with Chua had overshadowed all else.
If you ask party members and the public what Ong had achieved, most likely the reply will be his open confrontation with Chua.
And of course, PKFZ, Ong’s likely favourite claims of transparency and courage in exposing or bringing the culprits to book.
I don’t think the PKFZ issue alone can score votes for the party at the next general elections. In fact, the party is likely to lose more seats and to reverse that will be very tough.
Has the political culture in MCA shown any improvement? The reason for this question is that recently Ong has claimed that the DAP has not changed its political culture.
I have been working for the party for 28 years and had served three previous presidents, I have never seen or heard so much “dirty and malicious” campaigns in character assassination.
Some feedback alleged links to cyber-troopers and some leaders setting up unidentified proxy websites as propaganda weapons against anyone perceived to be the president’s rivals.
I am not in any way suggesting that the president himself is involved.
But I have also not heard of any stern reminders from the president’s office against such negative political culture within the party.
Ong’s leadership suggests approval of the emergence of a new destructive culture of promoting intra-rivalry and in-fighting within the party.
Honestly, with such a leadership record, the party is facing a bleak future. I don’t think it can perform better than the March 8, 2008 poll.
As it is for many the MCA has already become irrelevant and the future does not look that rosy.