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Sunday December 15, 2013 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Sunday December 15, 2013 MYT 11:18:56 AM
by foong pek yee
HE cut a lone figure at the Sabah MCA convention earlier this month.
Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat was there to garner support for his bid for the president’s post at the party elections on Dec 21.
“Life’s entity is not just politics,” he said to the writer after the opening of the convention by president Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek at the Sabah Trade Centre in Kota Kinabalu.
Ong must have felt the difference after almost four years out of active politics.
At 57, Ong is making a second bid for the president’s post.
He won the president’s post in the 2008 elections and lost it to Dr Chua in 2010. While Ong has been written off before the race even started this round, his candidacy is definitely a cause for concern for the two other presidential candidates – deputy president Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai, 52, and vice-president Gan Ping Sieu, 47.
The worry is that Ong could take away some of the votes from either of them and that the impact can be serious in what is seen as a “tight race to the top” this time around.
As a party insider puts it: “It is not a question of whether he (Ong) can win or not.”
There is talk that Ong actually wanted to negotiate for a senator’s post “in exchange” for him withdrawing from the race before nomination closes tomorrow.
He has been dropping hints of his meeting up with Dr Chua and Liow who are seen to have a strong influence on how the voting would go.
Gan is widely seen to be on Dr Chua’s side. But a senior party leader felt that both sides – Liow and Dr Chua – may be too wary to strike any deal with Ong, who can be rather unpredictable in his ways.
Besides, both Liow and Dr Chua also have their own supporters to take care of.
Anyhow, the senior party leader said the central delegates would not re-elect a former president to helm the party, citing an example of Tan Sri Ong Ka Ting’s failure to make a comeback in the 2010 elections.
“The same goes for Tee Keat. He was given a chance when he won the president’s post in 2008.
“Instead of uniting the party and working for the good of the party, he spent most of his time criticising and trying to oust his deputy then (Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek).”
Ong subsequently lost his president’s post to Dr Chua in a three-cornered fight in the March 28, 2010 elections. (The other loser was Ka Ting)
Whatever that has been said of Ong, he is articulate and this may help him to win over some votes.
In a telephone interview yesterday, he reeled out the weaknesses of the party and how he planned to overcome them.
“In the first place, it is time for us to make the party relevant so that we can restore the people’s confidence.
“We need to prove our worth and that our existence in Barisan Nasional is not as a passenger or a bargainer,” Ong said.
He explained that it is important that MCA, as the second largest Barisan component party, must be fully consulted on the formation of policies in the country.
Ong noted that power sharing in Barisan was not just on seat or portfolio allocations.
To the question of how he would like to be judged upon completing his three-year term if he got elected, Ong said:
“Not necessary to judge anybody, including myself. It is the legacy we leave behind.”
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Politics, MCA, Ong Tee Keat
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