Sunday, March 28, 2010
Telukbatu on 12:25 PM
By Clara Chooi and Asrul Hadi Abdullah Sani
KUALA LUMPUR, March 28 — The MCA extraordinary general meeting today drew a historic turnout of 2,316 from the party’s 2,377 central delegates, all eager to vote in a new leadership and see an end to the party’s prolonged crisis.
Speaker Datuk Yik Phooi Hong called the assembly to order shortly after 10am for the delegates to sing the national anthem and mark the EGM opening.
Yik then announced that 2,316 or 97.52 per cent of the total number of delegates had registered when the desk closed at 10.30am.
The delegates began casting their ballots for the crowded field of 101 candidates chasing 31 posts shortly after 10.30am.
Seventeen stations were prepared for the issuance of ballots while 176 stations were for the marking of the ballots.
Yik said that delegates would have to mark their votes on a total of five ballot papers — one for the post of president, one for deputy president, one for vice-president, and two for the posts of 25 central committee members.
“Seeing as there are 86 candidates contesting for the CC posts, there will be two ballot sheets,” he said before asking the media to leave as voting began.
The contest for the presidency is a three-way fight between incumbent president Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat, former deputy president Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek and former president Tan Sri Ong Ka Ting.
The post of deputy-president will see a straight fight between two former vice-presidents and Cabinet ministers, Datuk Seri Kong Cho Ha and Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai.
Ten candidates are vying for one of the four vice-president posts up for grabs, including Deputy Finance Minister Datuk Chor Chee Heung, Tourism Minister Datuk Dr Ng Yen Yen, former MCA vice-president Datuk Donald Lim Siang Chai, deputy MCA secretary-general Datuk Loke Yuen Yow.
Results are expected to be out earliest by 7pm.
Earlier, presidential hopeful Ka Ting expressed optimism when he arrived an hour before polling.
He had been on a tireless journey across the country, rounding up support from old friends and colleagues from the grassroots, hoping to revive their belief in him.
But the former president denied that he wants to be seen as the party’s saviour of the party but instead was running to “unite the factions.”
“I am confident that many of the delegation believe with my mission. From what the reception that I have received since yesterday until today, I have received overwhelming support and encouragement from them. Many of them said that they welcome my decision to run as party president.
“They feel that I have the experience and ability to re-unite the party. So with this support, I am very confident about my chances. So we will wait and see,” he told reporters this morning at the party headquarters.
This election marks a full circle for former vice-president Liow as he has been pushing for party election since November last year.
Liow said that he hoped the election will finally unite the party.
“I would like to thank the delegates for their support. I think this is a very important election for the party. It is not for personal interest but for the party to resolve the current crisis. So I am happy that we are able to get this election in time to resolve the party problem.
“I was one of the MIRT committee members that pushed for party election so it is important that we hold this election to gain back the confidence of the people towards the party. Whatever the result today, we hope that we can quickly unite and form a formidable team to help the party in the general election.
“We have wasted too much time with internal problems so we have to really regroup and hopefully MCA will be strong through the election,” he told reporters.
Liow was also confident that he will able to get the support of the delegates.
“Today polling turnout is very good with over 90 per cent. This is because all the delegates want to see this election so that is why they came out in full force. I am confident that I can get the support of the delegates,” he said.