13 October, 2009

Tee Keat is stepping down as MCA president ?

Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat has told his close associates that he is stepping down as MCA president,amid calls by certain leaders for Tee Keat's resignation and for fresh party elections.

However, party insiders say Tee Keat's resignation will not resolve the worsening leadership tussle triggered by the split decision of the 2,307 central delegates who rejected the wishes of both Tee Keat and his former deputy Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek in Saturday's extraordinary general meeting (EGM).

"Only two-thirds of the Central Committee (CC) members can call for fresh party elections. That's remote because many CC members would be reluctant to step down and pave the way for elections," he added.

"Even the president cannot call for party elections."

Already, party insiders say key leaders have started lobbying to fill the vacuum created by the Ong-Chua leadership saga.

The key players are vice-presidents Datuk Seri Kong Cho Ha, Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai and Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen. Others include MCA Youth chief Datuk Dr Wee Ka Siong, former secretary-general Datuk Seri Ong Ka Chuan and former veep Datuk Donald Lim Siang Chai.

Even Soi Lek and former veep Datuk Seri Dr Fong Chan Onn are still harbouring hopes of contesting should elections be called.

Former presidents and deputies like Tun Dr Ling Liong Sik, Tan Sri Ong Ka Ting and Tan Sri Chan Kong Choy are also said to be working behind the scene backing their choice.

Sources told theSun there was an informal meeting in a hotel on Sunday night by several leaders attempting to strike an agreement to resolve the leadership crisis.

Among those present were Cho Ha, Tiong Lai, Wanita chief Datin Paduka Chew Mei Fun and deputy secretary-general Datuk Loke Yuen Yow.

Both Cho Ha and Tiong Lai offered to take over as president but no agreement could be reached when the discussion turned heated.

"That is only one meeting among leaders that we have heard. A key player to watch is one of the Ong brothers, Ka Chuan.

"Ka Chuan is thus far the smartest, lying low, watching and waiting for the right time to pounce," said the party insider.

Another who was not present at the meeting is Yen Yen who is said to have expressed her wish to become the first MCA woman president, citing her seniority as a Cabinet member.

Tee Keat is expected to return from leave to chair a presidential council meeting on Thursday followed by a CC meeting. He is likely to tender his resignation for the CC to deliberate and decide on his leadership.

The task of rebuilding the party, which suffered big losses in last year’s general election, now falls on another new leader.

With a general election expected in two to three years, time is not on its side.

Analysts said it is unlikely the party will be able to rebuild in such a short time or increase its level of Chinese support by much.

“I have received many calls from the Chinese non-governmental organisations, clans and community leaders who told me point-blank that it was better for the MCA to ‘da bao’ (close shop),” MCA veteran leader Datuk Yap Pian Hon was quoted as saying by Bernama.

“They said there was too much vested interest in the delegates’ decision, that the community’s interest does not seem important. We can’t save the party from the public perception now.”

The days ahead, however, are likely to remain tumultuous for the party.

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