|Soi Lek - I will only hold the post for 1 year|
Amid speculation the MCA's internal elections due next year might be postponed especially if snap general elections are called by Prime Minister Najib Razak, party president Chua Soi Lek insists the MCA's triennial elections will be carried out as scheduled.
However, Soi Lek did not reiterate his previous promise that he would surrender the presidency - an assurance he had given during the MCA's special elections held earlier this year following a no-confidence vote against his predecessor Ong Tee Keat.
“The party election will be due early next year, and by then it would only be 36 months from the March 8, 2008 general election and I don’t see why we should postpone our election,” the Star reported him as saying.
Under MCA's constitution, elections for the national leadership takes place every three years. The last party election was on October 18, 2008. However, due to a massive internal power struggle between factions loyal to Soi Lek and Tee Keat, extraordinary general meetings were held in 2009 and a special vote conducted earlie this year.
Soi Lek beat Tee Keat for the presidency but vowed he would only hold the post for a year and not contest when the triennial-election proper fell due in 2011.
Indeed, speculation has been rife that he may wish to cling to power and pundits had expected that he may use the excuse of a full-blown general election to renege on his word. However, he denied he would.
“If everybody loves the party, we can fight for positions without having to throw chairs, ballot papers or complain of missing names in the delegate list,” Soi Lek said.
No direct elections
Tee Keat vs Chua
Soi Lek also dismissed calls from grassroots for the MCA to hold direct elections soon, whereby each member would be able to vote directly for himself or herself the leader of his or her choice.
Currently, despite having nearly a million members, only 2,400-odd delegates are given the power to vote on behalf of their divisions - giving room for manipulation and corruption.
“Nobody wants direct elections next year. We need to amend the party constitution before it can be carried out. The entire process of amending the constitution, which includes calling an EGM (extraordinary general meeting) to approve the amendments and going to the ROS (registrar of societies) before it can be implemented, will take at least six to eight months,” said Soi Lek.
According to Soi Lek, the MCA's first priority was to close ranks and unite as a party so that it could regain the seats it lost in the next general election. The biggest challenge for MCA was to regain the confidence of the Chinese electorate, he said.
“Everyone said we should spend our time and resources on the general election. Direct elections in the party is meaningless if MCA loses in the general election. Your party position will be a burden to you if MCA lost many seats in the next general election,” he said.
MCA begins its elections at the branch level, usually around March, before proceeding to the division and national levels, and the entire process takes about four months. Its Youth and Wanita wings also have elections in the same year.