Najib stays above the fray in MCA fight

Najib wants to see a strong and stable MCA. — Reuters pic

By Asrul Hadi Abdullah Sani and Leslie Lau

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 9 — A day before tomorrow’s MCA’s EGM, Datuk Seri Najib Razak took care not to be seen as taking sides by declaring that he wanted to see the results first.

Tomorrow’s EGM will see MCA delegates deciding if they will back Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat or Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek as their leader in a battle largely viewed as inconsequential by the broader Chinese community.

But Najib, who is also Barisan Nasional (BN) chairman, said today that what he wanted to see was a strong MCA no matter the results.

“I have always stated that I want to see a strong and stable MCA that can deliver the support of the Chinese community,” he told reporters today.

While there has been no direct acknowledgement, Umno leaders and many of its Cabinet leaders have found it difficult dealing with Ong.

But crucially Ong, like many of Umno’s partners in BN, has so far failed to deliver non-Malay support for BN. Chinese voters in particular have switched their allegiance to DAP and PKR.

In a posting on his blog today, Ong said that “the most important agenda for us is for MCA to regain lost ground… Therefore we must continue to push ahead with our agenda for change.”

But so far, a majority of Chinese voters are not buying either Ong or Dr Chua’s message.

Umno’s patience and confidence with the current power-sharing agreement with its partners in BN is also wearing thin.

During a rare three-day gathering of Umno divisions in Janda Baik last week, a common refrain heard was that Umno should be less generous in giving up Malay-majority seats to representatives of MCA, MIC, Gerakan and other component parties.

The general view among division chiefs was that the component parties were much weaker than Umno and would not be able to swing votes from the non-Malays or the Malays.

In contrast, a strong Umno was better placed to win in Malay-majority seats. So far Najib has been non-committal in response to the push from Umno chiefs, but if MCA continues to be wracked by instability and infighting, he is likely to give in to the demands and completely sideline MCA and other non-Malay partners in BN.

Among the key resolutions to be voted on tomorrow by more than 2,400 delegates is a vote of no-confidence against Ong and whether to reinstate Dr Chua as deputy president.

Ong had sacked Dr Chua by reasoning that the MCA No. 2 was tainted by his sex scandal from 2007. Dr Chua had surprised many by successfully winning the deputy presidency last year after resigning earlier from government and party positions because of the sex scandal.

But Ong has also been tainted by scandal. He has been accused of taking a RM10 million donation without reporting it, and also for taking free rides on jets owned by the Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ) contractor that was being investigated by his ministry.

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