KUALA LUMPUR: The MCA central committee has elected Datuk Seri Ong Ka Ting to be the party president and Datuk Chan Kong Choy as the deputy after failing to persuade their predecessors to withdraw their resignation letters.
Ong and Chan, formerly vice-presidents, were chosen when the committee resumed its meeting in the evening after adjourning earlier in the day, when Datuk Seri Dr Ling Liong Sik and Datuk Seri Lim Ah Lek had tendered their resignation letters.
Ong is the Housing and Local Government Minister and Chan is the Deputy Finance Minister.
The 36 members of the CC who were present voted unanimously to appoint the 47-year-old Ong and 48-year-old Chan as the top two leaders in the party. However, vice-president Datuk Chua Jui Meng, party Youth chief Datuk Ong Tee Keat and veteran member Datuk Wong Mook Leong did not attend the evening meeting.
The new president later described the committee’s decision as “an extremely challenging assignment given to both of us in the light of so many formidable tasks ahead.”
“I accept this new challenging assignment with mixed feelings. I am honoured to be given the heavy responsibility to serve as the party president, at the same time, there is a deep sense of sadness and heavy heartedness that Datuk Seri Dr Ling Liong Sik and Datuk Seri Lim Ah Lek have decided firmly to retire at this moment, when the majority of party leaders and members still want them to continue to lead us,” Ka Ting said.
He also called on party members to heed the advice of Dr Ling and Lim to place party unity as their immediate and top priority.
“Forget about the factional politics of the past. It’s time to consolidate and move ahead. Chan and I will do our utmost to strengthen party unity.
“Chan and I will be ever ready to listen to your constructive views and suggestions through the party channel and work together for a brighter future for the party, Barisan Nasional, the Malaysian Chinese community and the nation as a whole,” Ka Ting said.
Their election was announced by fellow vice-president Datuk Dr Fong Chan Onn, who chaired the meeting in the absence of Dr Ling and Lim.
“The central committee, with the most heavy heart, has accepted the resignation of Dr Ling and Lim as president and deputy president,” Dr Fong said at 8.35pm.
The candidacy for the top two posts was proposed by Datuk Chor Chee Heung and seconded by Datuk Dr Chua Soi Lek and Datuk Tang See Hang.
The appointments take effect immediately.
Ka Ting also announced that there would be no other changes in the party line-up and the two vice-president‘s posts vacated by him and Chan would remain “vacant for the time being.”
Chan also pledged to do his utmost to bring back unity to the party.
“I will play my role to work closely together and serve the party, community, Barisan Nasional and country. I am extremely confident that after the lesson from the party crisis, everybody must play a role to bring back unity,” he said in his acceptance speech.
Earlier in the afternoon when the committee met after the resignations, only one of the 38 central committee members present failed to reject the resignation of Dr Ling and Lim – Tee Keat, who abstained from voting.
There are a total of 41 central committee members, including Dr Ling and Lim, who have voting powers.
Dr Ling and Lim left the meeting room after tendering their resignations while central committee member Wong was absent.
Dr Fong, who chaired the 30-minute meeting after Dr Ling left the meeting room at 12.35pm, told a press conference that the central committee had discussed at length the two letters of resignation.
MCA secretary-general Datuk Seri Dr Ting Chew Peh said Dr Ling’s letter, which was dated May 19, was submitted to him on the same day.
Lim’s letter, dated May 16, was submitted to the party’s headquarters on May 21, Dr Ting added.
Dr Fong said: “The central committee has discussed at length the two letters. The central committee has also discussed at length all contributions by the two leaders.”
He added that the CC had, after extensive discussion, drafted a resolution to reject both letters.
Dr Fong said the CC meeting, which started at 12.05pm, was adjourned until 8pm to enable two delegations to persuade Dr Ling and Lim to retract their letters.
One delegation, led by Dr Fong and comprising treasurer-general Tan Sri Wiliam Chek and central committee member Dr Chua, was entrusted to persuade Dr Ling.
Another, headed by central committee member Datuk Fu Ah Kiow and comprising central committee members Tang and Datuk Dr Yeow Chai Thiam, was given the task to persuade Lim.
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