Adapted from Malaysiakini, 14.09.09
By Yong Kai Ping and Andrew Ong
Chua Soi Lek is not only confident his supporters have enough endorsements to requisition for an EGM, but he is also confident that their resolutions will be passed.
Among the reasons was that the party grassroots were disenchanted with president Ong Tee Keat's lack of direction which was apparent when the party failed to help BN garner Chinese votes in the past eight by-elections. Below is an excerpt of Chua's interview with Malaysiakini that took place last Friday:
Do you have the numbers?
I've already challenged people who think that I do not have the number of 1,200 to please come with me to the temple. No one has taken up the challenge. I won't say it is my problem. Tan Chai Ho is a very devout Buddhist. Everyone knows. He believes that a certain day, time and date will be the winning combination. I don't know how he came to the date... he thinks he can choose a date and time, with the number of delegates to submit. Because he is the chief coordinator, I cannot impose (my views) on him. That is my style.
But time is not on your side...
We have the confidence and the political maturity of the delegates. Not to sign is easy. Signing is a difficult choice. We'll expose them. Their names are submitted and this will be scrutinised with a fine-toothed comb. They will face a lot of harassment.
What about claims that your supporters are harassing delegates, including offering money inducements?
That is nonsense. That is how Ong Tee Keat loses support. These kind of statements, (claiming) that we give money, is insulting the delegates. Where do we find so much money? In my group, not one has government post.
Malaysian politics is such that if you have no government post, no one is going to give you money. Simple. I've gone through this process in my political career.
The aura of a government post is such that people think you are very influential and can grant projects and help people.
When you have no government job, you have nothing to offer.
The central delegates want to see democracy in the party.
They want to see fair play and justice, that the deputy president that is elected by central delegates should not be sacked at his (Ong's) whims and fancy.
Are we looking at two EGMs?
I don't know. Our EGM resolution is known to the other side. They are pretending that they don't know. The whole country is signing. Don't tell me they don't know. To say that they don't know is again the 'father of all lies'.
When Tan Chai Ho went to see the secretary-general to show our resolutions, we wanted to see their so it can be merged. He said there was none. Until now there are a lot of presidential council members who have yet to the resolutions.
Let's go into how you are being attacked. One accusation is that you are an Umno stooge.
He has created a lot of nonsense. The grandfather of all nonsense is that I'm trying to have a new party as a 'Plan B'. I have no 'Plan B'. We are confident the central delegates of MCA will ensure that the EGM and resolutions we proposed would be passed. There is no such thing as 'Plan B'.
He would also always try to tie me with Tiong (King Sing). I have nothing to do with Tiong. This is the greatest nonsense of all nonsense. That's why I call it the grandfather of all nonsense created by Ong Tee Keat.
If you look at Ong's political career, it is built on his eloquence at smearing his opponents. If you check his track record, he has done nothing. Nothing to show even as a president. The only thing he has achieved is to sack me. Then he said I took RM100 million from Tiong. If I had RM100 million, I would tell Ong, "Please... I don't want to get involved. That presidency is not worth RM100 million". Okay? I never had any intention to be party president.
Back then, I even harboured the thought that he is the most suitable person to be the president. One year later, I have doubts. I'm very sure that he has done nothing for MCA. He has created animosity within the party. He has created division within the party. He has not provided any direction for the party. He has never given hope to the party.
Today, he is surrounded by a lot of appointed members. The other thing that he created is the new party. Earlier, he was talking about gangsters. He says I'm involved in gangsterism. You ask MCA delegates and they will tell you about Ong Tee Keat's background. I don't like to talk about people's past. So this has not gone down well. I don't have so much money. They say I have taken money. But where are the people who are complaining? Please come forward. I'm sure if there is any complaint, the disciplinary board will happy to look into it.
Then he says I'm the stooge of Umno. The Prime Minister wants to see a strong and united MCA. Don't create such nonsense. A weak and divided MCA is of no use to Barisan Nasional.
A weak MCA is of no use to Umno, because we cannot deliver the votes. The eight by-elections we have gone through is very clear. The Chinese are not supporting BN because of MCA. So don't blame a weak MCA on Chua Soi Lek. because you are the president.
Do you agree with the perception that Ong does not enjoy support from Umno, but you are seen to be close to Najib?
I think people are entitled to personal relationship. For that matter, Ong Tee Keat is not close to anybody. This is not a personal attack. Ask anyone on the street or within the party. Don't ask the appointed members. To me, the root of the problem is that there are too many appointed members who are new and young.
What do you think of the controversies surrounding Ong - that he has allegedly taken money and received free flights courtesy of Tiong?
Ong Tee Keat says I have a tainted background. He tells people I have a tainted image and am a recycled product. He is (thus) whiter than white. He has forgotten that he is the only MCA minister ever hauled up by MACC (for abuse of privileges). He is the only MCA minister who had to go to the police station (to have his statements recorded). These are things he has to explain. Why is he not taking up the challenge to debate with Tiong? I mean, no one can compare with Tee Keat's command of language. Why is he not producing his wife's account? Why is he not going to the temple to cut the cockerel's head? He is not taking up all these challenges?
About the new party...?
This is the grandfather of all nonsense. I have no idea who the hell is behind this party. Don't use your eloquence to smear people.
What kind of accusations do you think will be levelled against you after this?
Well, he has been consistently attacking me, claiming that I want to destroy the party and that I'm a puppet of Umno to destroy MCA. This is nonsense. Then he claims I'm collaborating with gangsters. When he went down to Johor, there were MCA division leaders waiting to receive him. He didn't bother with them and told the Chinese press that he was surrounded by gangsters brought in by me. I'm sure you saw in the Chinese press that they (alleged gangsters) brought their MCA membership cards.
Then he says I received RM100 million from Tiong. There is no reason for Tiong to support me. Everybody knows that whoever is the Transport Minister will continue to investigate PKFZ because that is a cabinet decision. Tee Keat presents himself as if he is going on a crusade, forgetting that he himself is tainted. Now, he is trying to show that he is whiter than white. The Cabinet now says that it is now just a question of corruption and abuse of power. A bigger issue is involved - how to rehabilitate the project and move forward. It is up to the government, with its high-powered task force, to clean up (PKFZ).
If your faction gets its way in the EGM and Ong is toppled, and a new minister is then in charge of the Transport Ministry, would you continue the PKFZ probe?
It is a Cabinet decision. I was a Cabinet member before. Najib knows the rakyat is watching. If the task force doesn't succeed, the government will fall. I know when Najib says something, he will do it.
Some say the 'super' task force was to take away Ong's powers into the probe
That is because he politicised the issue. He turned a ministry function into a political problem. He is creating an image where only he is doing the job and everyone else is not interested. This is creating individual heroism and sacrificing the bigger picture. The bigger picture is BN and MCA. To him that is not important. He has no performance to show off. So he has to use this (PKFZ).
I've said it long before - don't politicise ministry work, don't bring ministry work into your party, because that is self defeating for the Chinese and MCA members. Umno has more ministers than MCA. Imagine if they politicised their ministry work and bring it into Umno and pass an Umno EGM and tell the Chinese community, "this is not what I want to do, but this is what my party wants me to do."
What do you feel is the central reason for the fight between you and Ong?
Firstly, he has failed to provide leadership. There is no direction in MCA. One year after he took over the helm, what has MCA achieved? Nothing! Important issues are hardly discussed. He hardly calls for meetings. Since the party elections until now, there has only been six presidential council meetings when it should be a weekly affair. Since two of these are emergency meetings, that leaves us with only four - including one to sack me and one to appoint senators.