08 March, 2010

Will Soi Lek do another stunner ?

Shah A Dadameah
Malaysian Mirror

DR Chua Soi Lek has become a regular 'shocker' in MCA politics.

After fighting so hard to get back his deputy presidency, his stunning resignation from the post last Thursday signals that he has yet another card up his sleeve to surprise his party members again.

Chua had held various prominent posts in his MCA career, spanning state politics in Johor and national-level action where he had been Labis MP, health minister, party vice-president and a 'now you see, now you don't' deputy president.

He resigned as VP and from all his political an d public offices in January 2008, due to the eruption of a sensational sex scandal, a rare occurrence in Malaysian politics.

Two DVDs were widely circulated throughout Johor, showing Chua having sex with a young woman. The DVDs were believed to be wireless hidden camera recordings in a hotel suite.

He admitted to being the man in the video clippings but claimed no involvement in the filming or production of the DVDs.

He also accused his critics of trying to be 'holier than thou' and hypocrytes.

Turn of events last six months

The scandal, however, did not stop him from targetting higher positions in the MCA political ladder.

So, when the party polls came around in October 2008, instead of fighting to regain his vice-president's post, he went a notch higher.

Against the odds, he stunned party members by beating then secretary-general Ong Ka Chuan and two others in the deputy presidency contest.

Ong Tee Keat was elect ed president.

However, Chua and Tee Keat could not see eye-to-eye and it became an arduous task for both to run the MCA together.

Using the sex videos as the tool to get Chua out of the way, Tee Keat and his presidential council sacked Chua in August 2009 on the grounds that he h ad tarnished the party's image.

After his explusion, Chua allegedly stirred an uprising against the party president and a series of moves led to the infamous 10.10.10 extraordinary general meeting last October.

Some delegates challenged Chua's removal but in a confusing turn of events, the meeting decided to reject his appeal for reinstatement while Tee Keat did not survive a vote of no confidence - by just 14 votes.

It was at this stage of the MCA turmoil that a third force emerged and the 'puppet master' was identified as Health Minister Liow Tiong Lai, supported by Youth chief Wee Ka Siong and MCA Wanita leader Chew Mei Fun.

Chua seemingly resented Liow's intrusion into the MCA's power broking scheme and plotted to be reinstated to the deputy presidency by getting the Registrar of Societies (RoS) to endorse the line-up of elected members in the party's October 2008 polls.

So, in another surprising turn of events, Chua returned as the Number Two in the party.

More unexpected, he announced on Oct 22 last year that he would stay loyal to Ong and the two men worked like brothers on what they called 'the greater unity plan.'

Liow, however, had other ideas. He worked behind the so-called MCA integrity restoring task force with Wee and Chew on a campaign to deride the plan and to get the bulk of young MCA members to their side.

For a brief spell between the RoS ruling and the Oct 10 EGM, Liow was appointed to the No 2 slot.

Marriage of convenience

Party insiders said if Chua is going to surprise the party again, it could be through a marriage of convenience with Liow.

The two shocked Tee Keat to lead two-thirds of MCA central committee members to quit last Thursday, triggering new internal elections.

Tourism Minister Dr Ng Yen Yen, also an MCA vice-president, quit on the eve of the party's Sunday annual general assembly; becoming the 22nd person to vacate a central committee post.

Party rules state new polls for leadership posts must be called within 30 days. Dutifully, the party has fixed March 28 as the date of the new polls. Nomination day is six days earlier.

The resignations appear to deepen the crisis in the party although some chose to say that it could end the in-fighting that had been going on ever since Ong Ka Ting and Chan Kong Choy quit as president and deputy president in the aftermath of the MCA's worst electoral showing in the March 2008 general election.

When the two left, they did not leave any successor.

Instead, it was a free-for-all party elections in October , which saw Tee Keat and Chua coming in as No 1 and No 2 respectively.

Since then, one turmoil had followed another and, somehow, each new crisis had centred on Chua.

One school of thoughts is that Chua had been fed up of Tee Keat using him to checkmate Liow. So, while the going is still good, he quit his position.

The other train of thoughts is that it was Chua who had been using Tee Keat to project himself (Chua) as one who has repented from his alleged immoral ways.

Nevertheless, whoever gets elected on March 28, will only be there for a a brief stint since the triennial MCA election is due to be held again in 2011.

Branch meetings and elections at that level will kick off around March next year in the build up to the triennial polls.

On the surface, therefore, it does not makes sense to have a short-term lineup – unless the reason is to weaken Tee Keat's leadership before 'going in for the kill' in the actual polls.

Will Chua do another stunner?

Tee Keat plans to have direct presidential elections and a major resolution at Sunday's AGM, was passed by the delegates, which will will broaden the current base of 2,400 central delegates.

And, confidently, he has declared to the delegates of the assembly that he "will continue this journey' and be with the members through thick and thin.

This of course means that he will defend his post in the face of the twin challenge from Chua and Liow.

Between Chua and Liow, political observers will be more interested to see the movements of the former deputy. Will he do another stunner?

Will Chua go for the to post, which Tee Keat is likely to defend?

And will he work with Liow, so that the latter goes for the No 2 while Chua goes for the top post?

Or will Chua, as speculated, team up with former first vice-president Kong Cho Ha?

And, if he fancies to be a ladies' man, Chua could work with Ng, with support from Chew and her Wanita MCA crew.

Would anyone be shocked if that happened?

- Malaysian Mirror

SHAH A DADAMEAH is senior editor of the Malaysian Mirror.

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