KUALA LUMPUR: The MCA will hold its 55th anniversary celebrations at its party headquarters tomorrow but the focus is expected to be on the next general election.
After a short ceremony involving 2,600 grassroots members, the party leadership will get down to preparing for the polls.
MCA secretary-general Tan Sri Dr Ting Chew Peh said a closed-door briefing would be held for the grassroots leaders after a three-hour celebration.
We want to gear our members up for the elections which can be called any time now. Their presence at the celebrations is timely, he said in an interview yesterday.
Party president Datuk Seri Ong Ka Ting, who met Barisan Nasional chairman Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi on Wednesday, is expected to deliver a directive on what MCA campaigners should do.
Ong has remained tight-lipped since his meeting with Abdullah on the distribution of seats for the MCA.
In 1999, the party lost only 16 of the 112 parliamentary and state seats it contested. It gained two seats following the defection of two Gerakan state assemblymen.
With the party yet to announce its candidates, party officials said they expected aspirants to turn up to remind party leaders of their presence.
No one can be assured that they have been picked until nomination day. In the past, there were cases of those who had even printed posters, but dropped at the last minute, a party insider pointed out.
A senior Johor leader said: Candidacy is never discussed during presidential councils or central committee meetings.
He said that such discussions had always been confined to the inner circle and on a one-to-one basis.
The attention of party members is on 17 new seats tipped to be given to the MCA following the re-delineation exercise.
Other available seats are from two incumbents who retired voluntarily Labis MP Datuk Seri Dr Ling Liong Sik and Bagan Jermal assemblyman Tan Sri Dr Sak Cheng Lum.
Kulim assemblyman Datuk Yong Pau Chak is retiring due to health reasons and another from Johor is tipped to follow suit while Titi Tinggi assemblyman Loh Yoon Foo has hit his two-term limit in Perlis.
Another MCA assemblymen from Kedah is retiring for other reasons.
Mathematically, up to 39 seats will be up for grabs, and this translates to 29.8% new faces, assuming the MCA is contesting in 131 seats this time, said a party observer.
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