All three presidential candidates in the MCA party elections had claimed that they can unite the party but differed on who is going to lead the process.
MCA fued was so bad that former president Ong Ka Ting had decided to make a rare comeback by participating in the presidential race. Ka Ting and his brother, Ka Chuan were finger pointed as the main culprits which led to the sacking of Dr Chua Soi Lek from his deputy president position and the party.
Ka Ting would have created a better a legacy for himself by staying out of the race but contribute by rallying support from other party veterans to help mediate the party rifts. It is difficult to reconcile Ka Ting's decision to contest the president position with his intention to unite his party.
His detractors had criticised and questioned his intention to contest the position and claimed that Ka Ting was nowhere to be seen during the leadership feud.
Incumbent MCA President Ong Tee Keat, who was regarded by his detractors as the worst MCA president, has made a similar pledge to help unite his party. Tee Keat did not draw up a “cai dan” (menu) and get his supporters to contest for all positions because he wants to unite the party later.
Ironically, his pledge is hampered by a confident factor. Can the MCA delegates trust his ability to unite the party because his leadership was seen as a seed of disunity and power struggle between him and Dr Chua Soi Lek?
Tee Keat's strategy of not naming his team has weakened his election strategy. He had employed the right strategy for being factionless and unhampered by political baggage at the last party elections. Running as an independent candidate again would open up a question of his ability to get leaders of other factions to accept his leadership and work with him again to restore the party's unity. His GUP was a failure and it was rejected by more than two thirds of CC members.
Chua Soi Lek appears to be the front runner in the race. His sex scandal would not play a central role to his nomination as a presidential candidate. However, Soi Lek suffers the lowest public ratings for his leadership of MCA. The fortunate thing for him is the public are not voting for him to become the next president but the 2,300 odd delegates.
The margin of support received by Soi Lek in the past several party polls will not decrease or increase by much. His support base is probably the most solid amongst the 3 candidates.
Both Chua and Tee Keat have complimentary strengths. Chua has a solid internal party support but Tee Keat enjoys better public perception. However, the election of any one of them is not likely to help revive and restore the fortune of MCA. Chua's public perception and his sex video scandal was a political end game. It may not be so for his career in MCA but can he be reappointed as a cabinet minister?
Tee Keat's victory may not be decisive (more than a simple majority). His reelection may be achieved within a fractious party landscape. Can Chua, Liow and Ka Ting factions accept his leadership?
Moreover, it is best for Ka Ting to remain in retirement. His decision to contest the leadership position makes him just another candidate and his defeat will destroy his legacy. His decision to accept responsibility of the 2008 general election setback was applauded. The applause may turn into jeers and boos on Sunday.
What MCA need is fresh faces, untainted personalities and transformation leadership. It is time for a leader who can help to transform the party and maybe end its racial political model. MCA can be more embracing by accepting other races especially in urban areas.
The contest for urban multiracial support is still wide open. Malaysians yearn for a trustable and solid non-racial party.
Qua vadis MCA?
More on MCA elections tomorrow:
Catch me LIVE from Wisma MCA on Bernama TV (9am to 2.30pm) and Astro Awani LIVE (8.15pm to 9.00pm)