By Clara Chooi - The Malaysian Insider
Although he did not name Liow, it is common knowledge that it was the health minister who had pushed for fresh polls, in a bid to unseat incumbent party president, Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat.
In an interview with The Malaysian Insider, Kong said the group that pushed for fresh polls had rejected the party’s “Greater Unity Plan”, which was introduced last year as an attempt to resolve the party crisis.
When asked who was to blame for starting the party crisis, Kong said: “I would say that it is the people who were pushing for this fresh election. And their never-ending way of not co-operating with the Greater Unity Plan of the party.
“Because of that, it actually sort of derailed the plan, which was for us to work together for a better MCA.”
Nevertheless, Kong later admitted the roots of the current crisis were much older, and the plan was actually introduced as a method of resolving it.
“Yes, of course, it all started from (former party deputy president Datuk Seri) Dr Chua’s (Soi Lek) sacking, that is true,” he said.
Chua was sacked from his deputy president’s post last year over his involvement in the sex CD scandal.
Meanwhile, Kong said he was banking on his anti-faction stance to garner support for himself in Sunday’s polls.
He claimed, however, that he was entering the fight for the deputy presidency on equal footing with Liow.
Although Kong, a former vice-president, has clearly shown his support for Dr Chua as the new party president, he still believes that it would be his impartiality and “non-controversial” ways that would earn him support.
“All along I have been seen as a person who is non-controversial and I do not make enemies with any of the factions. I never make negative remarks about MCA people and I always maintain that any problem in the party should be resolved internally, and not publicised and damaging the party’s image,” he said.
The housing and local government minister said that he was in MCA to “make friends.”
“I believe that, because of that, I can play a more effective role in uniting the party to move forward,” he said.
True enough, during the interview, Kong deftly side-stepped questions that might have led him to speak ill of MCA leaders, choosing instead to remain as neutral as possible.
He would not speak out against Tee Keat or former party president, Tan Sri Ong Ka Ting, both of whom will be facing Dr Chua the MCA’s top post.
Instead, Kong came to Tee Keat’s defence, saying that the leader had failed to unite the party due to strong internal pressure.
“Tee Keat actually tried to work very hard for the reform of the party. However, with all the internal pressure placed on him, we did not actually give him enough room to move and that was why his reform agenda did not go as smoothly as he wished,” he said.
Kong admitted that Ka Ting’s re-entry into the party had created a “new dimension”, but refused to say if he meant to imply a “faction” or a further split in the party.
“It complicates things a little, maybe. I would agree that his re-entry has created a new dimension to the web of the party,” he said.
Kong expressed hope that this Sunday’s polls would give MCA what it needed desperately — a team of leaders that was willing and able to work together, despite all the in-fighting.
He believes that the mistakes of the past should not be harped on, but focus should instead be given to revamping the party to face the coming general election.
“MCA has to be [an] inclusive party. It cannot be a winner-takes-all thing. If that’s the case, then it is not an inclusive party,” he said.
He said that, most importantly, the new team needed to clean up the party and focus on how to regain the confidence of the Chinese community.
“To do this, the party itself has to be united and intact. Following that, we need to address some of the issues that are close to the hearts of the Chinese community,” he said.
The issues, he said, were the economy, education, and the state of the country’s security situation.
“If we successfully address these issues, then I believe the Chinese community would support the government agenda better,” he said.