On the Beat | By Wong Chun Wai

MCA should now find ways to close ranks

MCA officials said the delegates may have their
differences over the controversial purchase of Chinese dailies Nanyang Siang
Pau and China Press but party unity was still in their hearts.

Said secretary-general Datuk Seri Dr Ting Chew Peh: “Whenever the speakers
mentioned party unity, the delegates would applause.''

The two vice-presidents are seen as the best bet to take over the helm but they
are also perceived as arch rivals.

Ong is aligned to party president Datuk Seri Dr Ling Liong Sik while Chan has
been groomed by deputy president Datuk Lim Ah Lek.

At the EGM, a total of 1,176 delegates (53.3%) of the 2,216 delegates present
voted in favour of the deal while 1,019 (46.2%) opposed. There were 12 spoilt
votes and nine abstentions.

As the party leaders analysed the implications of the bruising EGM, some
suggested that moves must be made for both sides to get to the negotiation

Supporters of Dr Ling said the win was a clear endorsement of the deal but
admitted that they were uncomfortable with the narrow margin.

“But we should be clear that those who support Dr Ling may have disagreement
only on this issue," one Selangor leader stressed. "They still back

There were also mixed feelings in Ah Lek's camp.

While some like deputy Wanita chief Datin Paduka Dr Tan Yew Kew have openly
expressed disappointment, believing the acquisition will be rejected, many are
jubilant at the slim margin, saying it was a peek at the outcome of next year's
party elections.

Others quietly conceded that they felt dejected at the defeat because of
mobilised support from many groups.

Both sides are, however, concerned at the possible scenarios for the MCA if
efforts are not made to patch up the differences.

Besides members, party leaders from both sides have been getting phone calls
from Chinese community leaders urging them to work on a formula to unite the
opposing camps.

“These are people who have no interest or political agenda except to see a
united MCA,'' one businessman said.

It isn't clear how Dr Ling and Ah Lek will react to such peace efforts and
whether the timing is right. A good move taken at a wrong time will not be

Any reservation is understandable, given the failure of earlier succession

Many among the grassroots members also hope for a return to the negotiation

Fresh input, fresh formulae and even fresh mediators may be necessary to get
the talks going.

For that to take place, everyone must keep an open mind and there must be
sincerity on both sides.

A moratorium could be initiated to create a conducive atmosphere for such
discussions to begin.

It will not be easy but if the leaders are serious about forging unity in the
interest of the party, community and Barisan Nasional, then they must put on
their thinking caps.

The statements from various leaders over the past few days have been

First, Lim said he supported calls to consolidate the party while Dr Ling said
he was open to suggestions to forge unity and strengthen the party.

Then Chan said the Nanyang issue was over and that moves should be made to
unite the party.

On Thursday, MCA Youth chief Datuk Ong Tee Keat said the Youth wing accepted
the decision of the EGM.

There were initial fears that the Youth central committee meeting on Thursday
would be stormy.

Supporters of Dr Ling had questioned the legality of the Youth EGM on June 24,
where the delegates had voted against the acquisition of Nanyang.

A vote of no-confidence was also passed against Youth secretary-general Yew
Teong Look.

A compromise was apparently struck before the meeting, where Dr Ling's
supporters dropped moves to vote on its legality.

It was alleged that the Youth EGM was illegal because the 101/2 day notice was
not met and non-delegates were purportedly present.

Another issue was whether the resolution against Yew was proper when the EGM
was convened to discuss only one matter.

Questioned at a press conference held around midnight, Tee Keat told the press
“not to split hair'' over Yew's position.

Not everyone will be happy with Tee Keat's moves but it is commendable when
taking into account the larger picture.

There is little point in squabbling over what has happened. It is more
important for the party to bury the past and move ahead.

The spirit of consolidation must continue in the interest of the party and the
Chinese community.