KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 20 – Embattled incumbent Pandan MP Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat has been excluded from MCA’s list of possible candidates for the coming 13th general election, party president Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek said tonight.
Dr Chua was reported as saying in The Star Online that the five-term parliamentarian Ong (picture), who has been at odds with the party’s present leadership, does not have the support from all the Barisan Nasional (BN) component parties in his constituency.
“Ong doesn’t have the support of his own division. Ong’s name is not in the list prepared by the division, and I am dependant on the list prepared by the division,” the former Health Minister reportedly said at a Chinese New Year open house organised by Pandan MCA.
Dr Chua also introduced 39-year-old lawyer Gary Lim to reporters as MCA’s new candidate for the seat, The Star Online reported.
Tonight’s announcement comes as no surprise, following the bitter rivalry and open warfare between both Ong and his successor in the party Dr Chua.
It is an open secret that there is no love lost between the duo and in the run-up to the polls, both have been taking turns at accusing one another of sabotage and faction-fighting in the party.
Their bitter exchanges were headlined numerous times in the media last year, with Ong even suggesting that Dr Chua has been trying to ensure that he is left out of the candidates list for the coming polls.
Ong’s remarks came after it was reported in a pro-Umno blog in December last year that Dr Chua had accused his predecessor of using his “faction” of supporters in Malacca to try and sabotage him.
According to Syed Akbar Ali (http://syedsoutsidethebox.blogspot.com/2012/12/morning-tea-with-dr-chua-soi-lek.html), the MCA president had also predicted during a meeting with a group of bloggers that Ong would likely leave the party if the coming polls resulted in a hung parliament.
“Revisiting the issue of factionalism and lack of support he spoke bluntly about the Ong Tee Keat faction trying to sabotage him in Melaka. Dr Chua feels that if there is a hung Parliament after the general elections, Ong Tee Keat may just pack his bags and leave. Like Chua Jui Ming,” Syed Akbar had said on his blog.
Responding immediately on his Facebook, Ong launched a bitter tirade against his arch rival, saying that he pitied the MCA president and suggested that he seek help from a psychiatrist.
“I really pity him. This is just a fresh round of OTK-bashing, a cyclical recurrence of d same symptom during festive season, more so b4 GE13. He needs help from a psychiatrist perhaps,” Ong wrote.
“I can understand what he want... he wants to ensure that I have no locus standi to contest in the polls,” the lawmaker had told this news portal last month.
Ong had been elected to head the party in 2008, before a struggle within the party led to a re-election in 2010 when Dr Chua won and took over as MCA president.
It is understood that Ong has been favoured by senior leaders in Umno to defend his Pandan parliamentary seat because of his personal popularity.
Observers also believe that the best chance for BN to retain the seat is to field Ong, especially with talk that PKR’s strategy director Rafizi Ramli is slated to contest in Pandan.
Rafizi, 35, who in the last year has made a name for himself with a series of exposes like the National Feedlot scandal, is already a household name with his many appearances in the media and various opposition ceramahs around the country.
But as announced tonight, Ong’s bid to recontest the Pandan seat under the BN banner has failed.
It remains to be seen now if the veteran politician would insist on fielding himself for the polls, possibly as an independent.
In recent months, there was talk that Ong may defect to a party in federal opposition pact Pakatan Rakyat (PR) but when questioned on the possibility, the politician denied the rumours.