KUALA LUMPUR, 10 Sept 2008: Datuk Chua Jui Meng, who last challenged the MCA presidency three years ago, is making a comeback to active politics and this time will make another attempt to achieve what he failed to do in 2005.
The former health minister today announced his bid for the presidency at the party polls on 18 Oct and this time his opponent to date will be Datuk Ong Tee Keat, the Transport Minister and MCA vice-president, who announced his intention to contest the party top post a month ago.
"With this, I do not mean to disrespect my old friend (Tee Keat) by challenging him, but rather I want to see this as a friendly fight, a mission to bring back the party to its past glory," Chua told a news conference at a hotel here, attended by dozen of supporters.
In his last presidential bid, he lost to current president Datuk Seri Ong Ka Ting.
"I’ve deliberated on this matter for a long time and have been getting feedback from the grassroots, and I strongly feel that the only post that I should go for is the presidential post in order to bring about total change and transformation to the party," said Chua.
Ong, the former Housing and Local Government minister, had said that he was taking responsibility for the party’s poor performance at the 8 March general election and therefore was not seeking a new mandate.
Chua retained his Bakri divisional chairman’s post in the divisional elections in July, which he sees as a positive indication for him to return to national-level politics after years of being sidelined.
He said that with his vast experience of 15 years in the government, he was confident of playing a more effective role to rejuvenate the party and be a more dynamic voice in the governing Barisan Nasional coalition.
"I believe that I have the credentials to do so. The MCA needs a senior leader as representative in the government," he said.
The 64-year-old politician is seen to be offering himself this time around as a "unity candidate" to party members, who were said to be divided into two teams – one aligned to Ong and the other, to former president Tun Dr Ling Liong Sik.
Chua also appealed for support from all delegates sharing his aspiration for changes in the MCA.
"I seek to reform, rebuild and return MCA to relevance, not just to change and transform, not merely superficially or symbolically but in total effectiveness so we can be relevant and accepted by not only the Malaysian Chinese, but also by other races," he added. – Bernama