KUALA LUMPUR: Plans to redevelop Wisma MCA have become a contentious issue barely hours before the nomination kicked off for the MCA elections.
Three party veterans called for a press conference yesterday morning, claiming that many central committee members were unaware of plans to replace the building with a 71-storey skyscraper.
MCA president Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai issued a statement later in the day to rebut their claims, saying that the plans had been in the works for many years and the whole process had been transparent. They were on the table way before he became president, he said.
Liow has helmed the party since December 2013.
Discussions about the redevelopment of Wisma MCA started as early as during the leadership of Tan Sri Dr Chua Soi Lek, said Liow.
“After I became president, matters concerning the redevelopment of Wisma MCA were discussed at four party presidential council meetings and two central committee meetings.
“Professionals were invited to table their reports, which were recorded in the minutes of the meeting,” he said.
The three party veterans – Datuk Theng Book, Datuk Yap Pian Hon and Datuk Lim Choon Kin – had accused the party leadership of being secretive about the matter and wanted Liow to explain the feasibility studies, plans, marketability and other details of the redevelopment plan.
Citing the Development Order (DO) he obtained, Theng said the redevelopment plan involved tearing down the 23-storey Wisma MCA to build a 71-storey skyscraper comprising, among others, 27 storeys of office space and a 24-storey hotel.
Yap wanted to know what would happen to the ownership of Wisma MCA.
“Many of us were shocked when we heard about this plan. It concerns many party veterans who donated to keep the building from bank repossession in 1988,” he said.
Lim said that Wisma MCA was “the result of the blood and sweat of many veteran members who deserve to know what was happening”. But Liow said he deeply regretted the accusations.
He explained that on March 3 last year, MCA applied to the Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) to increase the area utilisation rate (plot ratio) of Wisma MCA – in order to fully utilise the space and land area of the building and to enhance the value of the building.
“Since we have yet to obtain the DO from DBKL, no specific discussions and decisions had been made on the details of the redevelopment of the MCA headquarters.
“This clearly shows that the entire process has been carried out in a transparent manner,” he said.
Liow also explained that MCA set up its Party Assets Committee in 2014.
The members include a former Bank Negara deputy governor, a renowned entrepreneur, a former party treasurer-general as well as the current party secretary-general and treasurer-general.
“Through the efforts of party leadership, MCA successfully paid off all debts and the party’s current finances are in a healthy and stable state. I hope the coming leadership will continue this effort,” he said.
Liow also called on members to show love and loyalty to protect MCA’s image and dignity, especially during the party election period, instead of attacking party comrades by discrediting them.
Party deputy president Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong said that as a central committee member, he was well aware of what was brought up for discussion in each meeting.