Sunday, December 30, 2012

Lessons from a morning coffee and an afternoon lunch

What happens when you sit down in a morning coffee chat sometimes bring out a side of you that is frank and straight, which even surprises oneself especially if the topic is close at heart.

And that is exactly that when we met Datuk Seri Chua Soi Lek the other day. It had been quite some time since we last met, and there was a window of opportunity to meet him again.

And so the topic discussed was wide ranging from BMI (seeing that most of us were a little 'heavy' - Chua was the Minister of Health for four years from 2004) to what his opinion was on certain political matters affecting MCA.

When asked if he had already finalised his candidate list, he said that the list is a 'live' list with constant changes especially when things developed with possible candidates. He cited an example where he had to deal with the fact that a possible candidate had civil proceedings against him(the candidate) and there is a likelihood that the candidate may be made a bankrupt.

The exchange was actually very casual, and when asked what his thoughts were should there be a hung parliament, he did not flinch and said that no MCA members if elected would defect.

With the possibility of a hung parliament, the question was very pertinent.

What was reported in Malaysian Insider was very much from Syed's perspective of the discussion we had about candidates and how the candidates will react should there be a hung parliament.

I can recall clearly how Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat was sending out messages in the aftermath of March 2008. One clear signal was how Ong placed a poll on his website and 75% of his commenters agreed that MCA should quit BN. That done, Ong was also engaging MCA think tanks on the same.

How does one ensure the loyalty of party members?

None actually, and the only person that can answer that are the candidates themselves. (and unlike PKR, where candidates are forced to 'sign' a pledge and 'resignation' letter at the same time, MCA do not practise the same)

The next day, I met with two very senior MCA members. Life members of the party, in fact. And they shared with me their thoughts of why MCA is yet again at the crossroads.

If anything, one of them told me that the different train of thoughts between the young leaders and the older ones is to be blamed. For MCA was different then because the young leaders those days were quite often mentored by the older ones, hence they could relate to each other.

According to 'H', the grassroot leaders to day are quite often not in sync with the party struggle, which foremost is to ensure the wellbeing of the chinese community. This according to 'P' will be one divide that needs the most attention.

'O' though critical of Dr.Chua was also quick to admit that the leadership now is one that is experiencing the most trying of times. He also expressed hope that all leaders can see that the party president is doing his best to close ranks within the party to helm it to a better showing come the next GE.

One thing both 'O' and 'H' agreed was that their loyalty to MCA will never falter, and that is one thing they hope all members will keep - their faith. When asked about Ong Tee Keat, they both also agreed that Ong had 'flexed' his muscles at the time when BN needed MCA's support most, but they also expressed hope that the rift between OTK and CSL can narrow for both to deliver to BN.

What transpired in the morning coffee meeting as well as the lunch with these two senior members was a frank discussion.

In Dr.Chua, MCA and his team of leaders within the party is firmly behind BN and that from my perspective is something that is demanded from a BN component party. Ong must also put aside his differences to do the same.

In MCA's case, the party and the president are on the same path.

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