- POSTED: 20 Dec 2013 18:50
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After winning only seven out of the 37 parliamentary seats it contested in Malaysia's general elections in May, questions have emerged about the Malaysian Chinese Association's (MCA’s) relevance.
KUALA LUMPUR: After winning only seven out of the 37 parliamentary seats it contested in Malaysia's general elections in May, questions have emerged about the Malaysian Chinese Association's (MCA’s) relevance.
And whoever is elected in this weekend's presidential polls will be relied on heavily to turn the party around.
For the main Chinese party in Malaysia's ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition, 2013 has been a tough year.
MCA candidates' dismal performance in the 13th general elections were a huge letdown, further tearing apart a party already famous for its factions.
That is why this year's presidential polls are being taken so seriously -- who will lead MCA and restore its relevance to both the BN, and the almost 30 per cent of Chinese in Malaysia it claims to represent?
Political analyst Khoo Kay Peng said: "If you are a race-based political party and you represent a majority, then yes, there is a chance of survival going forward.
“But representing a minority is going to be very difficult, especially in a coalition dominated by a major race party like UMNO."
The presidential race on Saturday will be a three-cornered fight between long-time party members.
Incumbent deputy president and former cabinet minister, Liow Tiong Lai is widely viewed as a front-runner for the post.
But after a very public fall out with influential incumbent president Chua Soi Lek, the less-experienced Gan Ping Sieu and his running mate, Donald Lim, may also have a fighting chance.
Mr Gan said: "We are seen as the least factional within the party and the time has come that the party must unite so we can move forward together."
This is a goal also shared by Mr Gan's competitor, Ong Tee Keat, another MCA presidential candidate.
Despite being ousted as MCA president in 2010 after a no-confidence vote, Mr Ong is throwing his hat in the ring again, so that his more than 20 years of political experience can be of service to the party.
Mr Ong said: "I'm here to make an offer. To make an offer not just for the sake of going for presidency but more importantly I have something to offer to the party in order to help elevate the party from the doldrums.”
Gan Ping Sieu has invited all the presidential candidates for a public debate on how each plans to restore public confidence in the party.
But both Ong Tee Keat and Liow Tiong Lai have rejected the offer, reportedly due to time constraints.
Regardless, the delegates will be casting their votes on Saturday for the president of their choice, and results are expected by nightfall.