Thursday, October 22, 2009

Ong Tee Keat, Dr Chua hammer out truce with nudge from Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak

Malaysian Insider 22nd October, 2009

An end may be in sight in the MCA crisis with the recent intervention of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.

The Malaysian Insider understand that Najib met Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat and Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi lek yesterday to thrash out a solution for the deadlock in MCA.

The result was an agreement between the two men to bury their differences. Yesterday the two men were asked to meet the PM. Datuk Seri Najib , who is also Barisan Nasional (BN) Chariman, was unhappy that the coalition's second biggest party was in disarray.

He told the two men that BN needed a strong and stable MCA if it was to take advantage of any weakness in Pakatan Rakyat (PR) to regain non-malay votes lost in Election march 2008.

The PM wants Ong and Dr Chua to bury their differences. Another EGM and fresh election will just make it worse, the PM told the two men. Under the truce between the two men, Ong and Dr Chua agreed to find way to stabilise the party, with the two of them at the helm, without bringing the party to the brink.

It was agreed that Dr Chua's supporters would be appointed to key positions in the party's state and national leadership to reflect the deputy president's relative support.

However, the two men may find it hard to convince their respective supporters and the public that they can hold a truce.

They will also find a way to deal with the position of Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai. He was appointed the MCA's new No.2 last week by a central committee that also asked for Ong's resignation.

A number of other senior party leaders have also made strong remarks and hurled accusations at both Ong and Dr Chua.

Any public show of affection or unity would likely be farcical and draw even more scorn for the BN party, which only has by some estimates less than 30 per cent backing from Chinese voters.

The current MCA crisis had started soon after party elections last October. Ong won the presidency convincingly but against the odds Dr Chua won the No.2 job after he was forced to resign from his Cabinet position and party posts earlier in the year because of secretly filmed footage of him having sex with his mistress was leaked.

The party president had an uneasy relationship with Dr Chua and set out to isolate him. Dr Chua was not given any prominent appointments and was not even made state chairman in Johor. Things came to a head when Ong decided to push for Dr Chua to be sacked from the party. His excuse was that the sex recording had tarnished the party.

The presidential council agreed to sack Dr Chua. Later, following a surge of public discontent, the central committee reduced it to a suspension of Dr Chua's membership. Supporters of Dr Chua then pushed for a EGM. At the October 10 EGM, Ong lost a confidence vote while Dr Chua had his menbership reinstated. The results suggested there was a move by a third force to remove both men and benefit Liow.

Ong then went back on his word and refused to resign, pointing out that the party constitution requires at least a two-thirds majority of delegates at an EGM to force his resignation. Dr Chua is using the same requirement in an application to the Registrar of Societies to be reinstated as deputy president.

Dr Chua has told the Registrar that since his membership had been restored, it was status quo and that meant he was still the deputy president. If the Registrar agrees, that means Liow' appointment will be voided. And if Ong keeps his word there will be wholesale changes in the party to reflect Dr Chua's support.