KUALA LUMPUR, March 21 — Former MCA deputy president Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek today confirmed he would join the presidential race this March 28, paving the way for a fiery three-cornered fight with estranged incumbent Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat and former president Tan Sri Ong Ka Ting.
Former MCA deputy president, Datuk Seri Chua Soi Lek confirms he will join the presidential race today. - Picture by Jack Ooi
Dr Chua, who was in the very eye of the storm that had started the party crisis last year, made his expected announcement amid much pomp and pageantry at the Corus Hotel here this afternoon.
As expected, he was flanked by former vice-president Datuk Seri Kong Cho Ha, confirming speculations that the duo had teamed up as partners to vie for the party’s top two posts. Kong had yesterday announced his bid for the post of deputy president and will compete with fellow former vice-president Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai, who made his intention known this morning.
A large crowd of hundreds of party delegates and supporters from various states had earlier gathered outside the lobby of the hotel, armed with large banners, chanting and blowing whistles as a show of support for Dr Chua. “We do not want a hero. We want a leader for all. We will fight to the very end,” they chanted. One party delegate shouted that Dr Chua was the best choice as he was a leader for the grassroots and not a person who was just hungry for power.
As Dr Chua made his entrance into the hotel ballroom, he was greeted with deafening applause and shouts of support, mirroring the 64-year-old party leader’s popularity despite the sex scandal that had stained his otherwise clean political career in 2007.
When former Health Minister announced his candidacy to the sardine-packed hall, his words were punctuated by a large round of applause and shouts of “Chua Soi Lek! Chua Soi Lek!”.
In a press conference later, Dr Chua admitted that despite his optimism at his chances of winning the polls, he had also resigned to the fact that his contenders would be rehashing his sex DVD scandal for the purpose of gaining support for themselves.
In all confidence however, the veteran leader said it would not thwart his confidence one bid as he was more than ready to sleep on the bed that he himself had made.
“I have accepted the fate that in politics, there will always be those who will make use of anything and everything for the sake of political gains. But I give you my assurance that I will never use personal issues to win.
“All top leaders in MCA have their own weaknesses; it is just a matter of whether those weaknesses are exposed or not,” he said.
Dr Chua also admitted that his sex scandal had tainted his image but pointed out that no leader was perfect.
“I think a lot of MCA members will realise that the VCD (scandal) will always be used as a weapon against me everywhere I go because they have nothing else to talk about.
“And I say that no political leader is perfect; it is whether we want to expose them or not. I have to accept the fact that people will continue to use my weaknesses for their own political gains,” he said.
Dr Chua also voiced his belief that he was a suitable candidate for party president as in his tenure as deputy president, he had fostered close ties with MCA members and grassroots leaders.
“I have been going down to the ground to engage with them. I understand their aspirations and their needs and wants. Hence, I have a strategy on how to unite the MCA members and bring about the stability that the party needs today,” he said.
Dr Chua also likened the MCA to an ant army, saying that the party could not function if each member acted as individuals but would be able to perform staggering feats if everyone worked as a team.
“We have to adopt the culture of the ants. An ant knows its responsibility and works with full dedication but its powers are limited. However, an army of ants can produce unimaginable results. In short, if all the one million members in MCA can unite and work together with full dedication and move as a team, then it means that we still have a chance at transforming the party so that we can face the coming general election,” he said.
He underlined how MCA had faced unprecedented losses in the previous general election in March 2008 under Ka Ting’s leadership, but added that with a leadership team, the party could very well mend itself.
Dr Chua also quashed talk that he had teamed up with Kong to run in the polls although the latter had turned up in his function.
“We do not combine in factions or teams. As I said just now (in my speech), whoever who is chosen as president has to accept those who are chosen by the delegates. Only with that thinking can we destroy all the factions in the party at this present moment,” he said.
Dr Chua also refused to reveal his election manifesto today and said that he would be launching it only on Tuesday. He will arrive to submit his nomination papers at the MCA headquarters at 2.30pm tomorrow.