MCA presidential race heats up as members mull Soi Lek comeback

Ben Tan And Sylvia Looi
Dr Chua was MCA president between 2010 and 2013, and held the health minister post between 2004 and 2008. In 2008, he had resigned from all party and government posts after he was implicated in a sex tape. — Picture by Arif Kartono

JOHOR BARU, Aug 28 — Tan Sri Dr Chua Soi Lek has largely kept silent since he went into political exile following MCA’s dismal performance in the 2013 general elections, where the Barisan Nasional component won only seven federal seats.

But with an even more disastrous result on May 9, there are members who felt that MCA may benefit from a comeback by a tenacious personality like the former party president — much like Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad did for Pakatan Harapan — to turn its fortunes around.

“Talk among the grassroots’ leaders in Johor is that MCA is in urgent need of an overhaul and Wee may not have the capability and experience due to his health issues to lead it,” said a Johor MCA source who wished to remain unnamed.

He was referring to deputy president Datuk Seri Wee Ka Siong, 49, who had on Sunday indicated his willingness to contest the party presidency, with Perak MCA confirming yesterday that at least five divisions are behind him.

“Of late, there are indicators that former party president Tan Sri Dr Chua Soi Lek may make a comeback to lead MCA out of their current situation and strengthen it internally,” added the source, who is privy to information from the state liaison committee.

The source said its Johor members are lacking young and new talent amongst its ranks, so naturally they are looking at Dr Chua’s return to helm the party.

“Dr Chua’s Batu Pahat division has already nominated him to be a central delegate on Sunday and this will pave the way for him to bid for the party’s presidency,” the source said.

“Don’t forget Dr Chua still has a large nationwide network of support among party loyalists, as well as the old guard and it is not impossible for him to be the president again.

“He may be 71-years-old, but he is young in comparison to our Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad who is 93,” the source added, referring to Dr Chua.

Dr Chua was MCA president between 2010 and 2013, and held the health minister post between 2004 and 2008.

In 2008, he had resigned from all party and government posts after he was implicated in a sex tape.

However after MCA’s poor performance in the general elections that year, Dr Chua returned to active politics and won the deputy president post, but was expelled from the party the year after due to his reputation over the sex tape.

After a public infighting between 2009 and 2010 with rival camp led by then president Tan Sri Ong Tee Keat, Dr Chua later won the presidency and focused on internal reconciliation.

MCA deputy president Datuk Seri Wee Ka Siong had on Sunday indicated his willingness to contest the party presidency, with Perak MCA confirming yesterday that at least five divisions are behind him. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

Another Johor MCA branch leader, who also declined to be named due to the sensitivity of the matter, agreed that Dr Chua is seen as having the capability over Wee to lead the party out of the doldrums.

“He did it before, and the party members are hoping that he can strengthen the party again.

“Let’s face it, Wee may be an elected federal representative, but he has health issues and the potential party leader needs to be capable enough to fully concentrate in strengthening MCA again,” said the branch leader.

In addition, a state MCA member from the Ipoh Timur has also divulged that there are talks in the state of Dr Chua’s comeback.

“We are looking for someone who is able to lead the party,” said the member, who described the party now as “a headless chicken” with no direction.

Malay Mail’s numerous attempts to contact Dr Chua for comments were unsuccessful.

Outgoing president Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai has said he will not seek reelection. He has been the MCA president since being elected in 2013.

In GE14, MCA won only one parliamentary seat and two state seats. Wee, who is also the Johor MCA chairman, managed to retain the Ayer Hitam federal constituency by a thin 303-majority during GE14.

Besides the Ayer Hitam seat in Johor, MCA won only two other state seats, Titi Tinggi (Perlis) and Cheka (Pahang).

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