KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 3 — On October 11, MCA president Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek depicted his deputy Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai as “weak, indecisive, and not fit to lead the party”.
Chua said he had worked with Liow for the past four years and found that he (Liow) was not a fighter. “When faced with major issues he tended to avoid.”
Chua who was disgraced by his sex video in early 2008 added that as the party president it is his duty to hand over the leadership to suitable people “who are capable, have vision and have guts to know what to do”.
Many thought that the statement was merely aimed at discrediting Liow who had declared that he would contest for the party’s presidency in the December party election.
But political observers pointed out that Chua’s statement above did spell out exactly what MCA badly needs to determine its survival in the current political climate:
The party needs a president who has high standing and impeccable reputation in the Chinese community, who is credible and acceptable by them (Chinese);
As the leader of a component within the ruling party, Barisan Nasional, he must possess reasonably good oratory skills, substance and guts to be able to debate and argue with the opposition parties, especially the Chinese-based DAP — to take the bull by its horns; and
The future MCA president must be a leader who can command respect from other races in the country, in particular the Malays, and who is preferably endorsed by the non-Chinese population.
These are the criteria the 2200 delegates of MCA must bear in mind when they turn up for the AGM in December.
The failure of these delegates to elect correctly their new president will certainly spell the beginning of the demise of the party or, in Dr Chua’s own words, “turn into another Parti Gerakan Rakyat Malaysia”.
The current MCA president admittedly has all the criteria envisaged above, except that he was said to be a “tainted leader”, due to the “same room, same hotel” sex session between Chua and his “personal (woman) friend” which was secretly filmed and reproduced on DVDs.
Liow has been ruled out by Dr Chua recently as being “not fit” to be the new party president.
Instead, Chua mentioned a few names from among the younger MCA leaders such as Datuk Wee Ka Siong, Gan Peng Sieu, Tee Siew Keong and his son Chua Tee Yong.
Until today, Chua is keeping to himself as to whether he will seek re-election as the party president.
Neither are the members told of any specific candidate who is suitable to contest against Liow who is already busy campaigning to woo the fence-sitters among the delegates.
Outside these two opposing camps, there is another aspiring candidate who has shown keen interest to go for the presidency — for the second time.
He is Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat who was the party president from October 2008 to March 2010 and former Transport Minister (March 2008 – June 2010).
Surely Tee Keat is seen as the most suitable candidate who fulfils the above criteria.
His no-nonsense approach in the party’s negotiation with the BN ‘big brother’ Umno was well noted and praised by the Chinese community leaders and masses.
He was also feared by the DAP leaders notably Lim Kit Siang and son (Lim Guan Eng) because Tee Keat is more articulate.
But luck was not on Tee Keat’s side.
His close comrades (Liow, Wee & Chew Mei Fun ) betrayed him in a 2010 coup.
In March that year, a fresh election was forced by the resignation of the Central Committee members.
Tee Keat lost in a three-cornered fight for presidency.
Chua became the victor and has been president since then.
MCA suffered many serious crises and setbacks in the past. It also scored many “firsts”:
MCA was led by a tainted leader who was involved in a sex scandal (Chua Soi Lek);
In the 2010 party election, a president (Tan Sri Ong Ka Ting) who had retired, returned to contest for the presidency two years later and lost; and
The party whose crisis was resolved by the intervention of an outsider, that is, Umno deputy president (Tun Ghafar Baba).
Some observers view the current scramble for positions in MCA as another round of tussle to enjoy or manage the multi-million ringgit party assets including its stake inThe Starwhich has increased to 42.4%.
In politics, the reward is always there for the able elites.
The fight for positions will continue despite the party’s dismay performance in the last general election.
The majority of the Chinese voters had abandoned the MCA and opted for the DAP.
In the event that the party delegates continue to overlook what qualities their president should possess, this will be the straw that will break the camel’s back.