KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 27 — Beleaguered Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat is courting the support of his former foe Tun Dr Ling Liong Sik and is making a hugely unpopular appointment at The Star in a last-ditch bid to cling on to the MCA presidency.
His strange moves come after Associated Chinese Chamber of Commerce Industry president Tan Sri William Cheng lashed out at Ong yesterday for doing nothing to help the community.
With fresh party elections looming, Ong could face challenges from Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek and Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai, and he is taking no chances in what can only be described as a desperate attempt to cling on to power.
Aside from reaching out to Dr Ling, he has decided to appoint a new point man at the MCA-owned The Star newspaper to be his eyes and ears, as well as to ensure the daily backs him.
Ng Kee Seng, an undistinguished veteran journalist from the rival The Sun daily, will take up the post of Executive Editor at The Star from Jan 1.
The Malaysian Insider understands that Ng’s appointment is already causing widespread unhappiness among the staff at The Star, which is Malaysia’s top-selling and most profitable newspaper group.
It is learned that many of the editors in The Star are not happy at the prospect of reporting to Ng, whom they have little respect for.
Ng’s appointment is only the latest change Ong has made to The Star to shore up his position. He recently removed Datuk Leong Tang Chong as chairman of the daily because the former MCA legal bureau head disagreed with him over party matters.
In terms of editorial policy, it is learned that Ong has also now removed Dr Ling, the former party president, from a “black list” of personalities the newspaper would give little or no coverage to.
Ong had been one of the leading lights in opposing Dr Ling when the latter was MCA president, and his courtship of his old foe indicates growing desperation in his camp.
Despite Ong’s moves, The Malaysian Insider understands that Dr Ling is not quite ready to bury the hatchet with him.
But Ong needs all the help he can get as he prepares to battle for the MCA presidency.
Dr Chua remains key in Ong’s bid to win re-election.
Even if the MCA No. 2 decides to stay out of the contest for the top post, both Ong and Liow will still need his backing to be sure of victory.
The Malaysian Insider understands that Dr Chua is still undecided over his options.
With Ong’s star continuing to fade, both Dr Chua and Liow have a good chance of winning the party presidency if they decide to go for it.
Yesterday, Cheng, the ACCIM president, made an unprecedented attack against Ong in an interview published by Sin Chew Daily, the country’s No. 1 Chinese-language daily.
Cheng said that under Ong’s leadership, the MCA had “split” from the country’s major Chinese organisations and clan associations.
He also criticised Ong for engaging in political infighting when the country was facing an economic crisis.
And in a stunning rebuff, Cheng said MCA representatives would for the first time not be invited to a quarterly dialogue between the country’s major Chinese organisations and clan associations this Sunday.
The current MCA crisis had been sparked by Ong, who had tried to sack Dr Chua as MCA deputy president and member.
But an EGM in October saw Dr Chua’s sacking overturned and Ong narrowly losing a no-confidence vote.
Despite saying he would resign if he lost the vote, Ong later reneged on his words and refused to quit.
He then turned against Liow as well as some of his other allies in the party leadership after they had asked him to resign.
After the intervention of Datuk Seri Najib Razak, he shockingly made peace with Dr Chua by appointing the latter’s supporters to key party positions.
But Liow and his supporters decided to instead call for another EGM to pave the way for fresh polls.
The new EGM was called off yesterday after an agreement was reached between Liow and Dr Chua to have fresh polls, possibly in January.