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Published: Thursday December 19, 2013 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Updated: Thursday December 19, 2013 MYT 12:06:18 PM

Chua playing cards close to his chest

Decisive: Dr Chua can seriously tilt the balance at the party elections on Saturday.

Decisive: Dr Chua can seriously tilt the balance at the party elections on Saturday.

THE media has been at its wits’ end trying to get MCA president Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek to reveal his favourite candidates for the party’s top two posts.

This question has been posed to him since Dec 4, when he confirmed that he would not defend his seat at the party elections this Saturday.

It is a pertinent question because Dr Chua is able to decide who will be the next president and deputy president.

The reason is that 960 to 1,100 of the more than 2, 380 central delegates voting this time around are his hardcore supporters.

In other words, he can tilt the balance, very much.

His stronghold is in Johor and Perak, which account for some 760 of the total number of central delegates.

As party president, he had also consolidated his support in other states in the last three years.

The question is, who will get – or deserve – his backing?

The bet is between deputy president Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai and vice president Gan Ping Sieu who are contesting the president post and Youth chief Datuk Dr Wee Ka Siong and vice president Datuk Donald Lim Siang Chai who are in a straight fight for the deputy president’s post.

The third presidential candidate former president Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat is seen as a write-off or non-starter to begin with.

But the MCA president, a master strategist, is not going to show his cards to anyone.

His supporters are not revealing anything either.

This is not surprising because Dr Chua shares a close relationship with the grassroots leaders since he became an MP and health minister in 2004.

He is known to go to the central delegates one by one!

Most of all, Dr Chua is known to take good care of the people who are with him.

The fact that he resigned from all party posts in 2008 and won the deputy president’s post in the same year and the president’s post in 2010 speaks volumes of his influence on the ground.

While Liow and Gan may not share a close rapport with Dr Chua, they have their strong and weak points for him to take into consideration.

Gan, 47, and a lawyer by training is articulate and seemed daring to be anti-establishment.

He, however, is lacking in track record.

Gan won the Mengkibol state seat in the 2004 general election but lost the seat to the DAP in the ensuing elections.

He did not contest in the May 5 general election.

Liow, 52, moved up from the rank and file after joining the party at the age of 20.

The food science and nutrition graduate from Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia is a fourth-term Bentong MP and also a former health minister.

Liow has solid support from Pahang where he is the MCA state chief. The state has 175 central delegates.

On the deputy president’s post, Dr Wee, 45, is widely seen as a rising star in the party.

The third-term Ayer Hitam MP is young, hardworking and said to be doing a good job in his constituency.

With a track record in championing education issues, Dr Wee was deputy education minister from 2008 until the recent election.

Lim, without a cordial relationship with Dr Chua, may be at a disadvantage in terms of getting the latter’s support.

The strain between them started in the 2008 party elections when Lim, who was in the same team as Dr Chua, decided to fight him (Dr Chua) for the deputy president’s post at the eleventh hour.

It was a three-cornered fight and Dr Chua won after beating Lim and Datuk Seri Ong Ka Chuan.

It is unlikely that Dr Chua’s supporters had forgotten the episode of Lim’s last-minute ditching of their boss.

Picking the best: (From left) Gan, Liow, Tee Keat, Dr Wee and Lim.

Anyhow, Lim, 58, is an experienced politician and his home state of Selangor tops the list with about 430 central delegates.

The former PJ Selatan MP, who had served in four ministries as a deputy minister, can bank on his experience to pull in some votes.

While his critics dismiss him as non political savvy, no one can deny that Lim is a friendly person.

On the four vice-president posts and 25 central committee seats, Dr Chua and Liow have come up with a peace plan.

Dr Chua is known to make things work.

Both sides put up their candidates for vice-presidents and central committee members (see table), and it is obviously a big step towards reconciliation.

Both sides have a fair share in the national line-up under the plan.

In fact, it is to the advantage of Liow and his people when both sides exchange votes.

Winning the elections is only the start of more tasks and responsibilities ahead.

This is Dr Chua’s constant reminder for those who aspire to move up the party ladder.

This is perhaps a hint from him as to who actually will eventually get his backing.

Tags / Keywords: Politics, mca, foong pek yee, elections


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