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Ong, Liow meet over crisis

KUALA LUMPUR, 21 Oct 2009: MCA president Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat and his newly-appointed deputy, Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai, have held meetings to sort out their differences, following the central committee (CC) meeting on Thursday.

According to party sources, several personalities were also present during the meetings which were held at a hotel here under Liow’s initiative.

“Yes, they have met at least twice, but I can’t tell you the outcome (of the meetings). They are still discussing. If things progress well, then we can expect to see everything being wrapped up by this weekend,” a source, who is privy to the meeting, told Bernama.

When contacted however, Ong and Liow refused to either confirm or deny the meetings. But the source said the two leaders had yet to come to any agreement.

“What happened is that basically, Ong, [for the most part] during the meetings, played the role of a listener. He has not indicated anything,” said the source.

Some CC members, when contacted, have also confirmed the talks between the two leaders.

“We heard that they are talking now and they have met several times. What the outcome is, I really don’t know,” a senior CC member told Bernama today.

Some party leaders were, however, unhappy with the Ong-Liow talks as the talks did not include other party personalities, such as Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek and former party vice-president Datuk Seri Dr Fong Chan Onn.

Dr Fong wants Dr Chua to be included in the talks because the former MCA deputy president commanded half of the party’s support during the party’s 10 Oct Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM).

“Obviously, the delegates have spoken and Dr Chua still controls half of the support. If Ong-Liow continues to ignore this, more trouble will come.

“I appeal to both Ong and Liow, don’t function like you control the whole party. I also appeal to CC members, any consensus that excludes Dr Chua will not work. The shortest way is through a fresh election,” he said.

However, another CC member, Datuk Chong Itt Chew, believed that the talks between Ong and Liow had not progressed much as the party president yesterday removed the legal bureau chief, Datuk Leong Tang Chong.

“I heard both of them have been meeting several times. I believe if both of them can compromise, I don’t think Leong would be removed from his position. Therefore, it is interesting to see the next move,” he said.

According to Chong, it was not easy for Ong and Liow to find a compromise because Liow was not keen for fresh party elections while Ong prefers fresh elections to get delegates’ endorsement to continue as party president.

“To me, to have fresh party election is the right move. When you lose the confidence, you need the endorsement from the party delegates. We, all this while, had no intention to remove Ong, as the party constitution has stated very clearly that you need a two-thirds majority from the delegates to do so,” he said.

Some CC members who have signed a joint letter urging Ong to step down, prior to the CC meeting last Thursday, claimed that they signed the letter “due to pressure”. Some others have said they were “tricked into signing it” when the prime minister and Barisan Nasional’s chairperson’s name was implicated.

“Actually, it is just a loose arrangement. Yes, I signed it because at that time, I was under the impression that the succession plan has been worked out,” said a CC member who did not want to be identified.

However, according to party insiders, Leong’s sacking as MCA legal bureau head was actually not significant, except for the purpose of “passing a very strong message to those against him that the party president is still very much in charge”.

“They won’t simply sack any appointed CC as this would create a lot of problems. If you analyse well, Leong is not significant. He is not even an appointed member of the CC. All this while, he has been the legal bureau chief since Tun Dr Ling Liong Sik was party president.

“If you talk about the upcoming EGM, it also has not been finalised. Therefore, it is hard to believe that Leong’s sacking has got something to do with the upcoming EGM,” he said.

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