The Malaysian Insider landed a scoop yesterday in revealing ‘BN will field Tee Keat as direct candidate‘.
TMI executive editor Leslie Lau had the exclusive on an “elections war room” meeting chaired by BN chairman Najib Razak that decided on the former MCA president Ong Tee Keat to contest in Pandan.
Chua Soi Lek recently announced that Tee Keat was not on the his party’s GE13 slate for the Selangor Parliament seat where the latter is the incumbent.
A Feb 21 article in The Star headlined ‘Tee Keat dropped from Pandan‘ reported that Dr Chua had even introduced 39-year-old lawyer Gary Lim to reporters as the MCA’s choice.
Now it appears that the MCA has been overruled. Chua Soi Lek’s loss of face is not wholly unanticipated. The possibility was tweeted four days ago by the former three-term MCA state assemblyman for Subang Jaya, Lee Hwa Beng.
Hwa Beng (tweet screenshot above) is a member of the Christian right.
He makes a perfectly valid point that this “pleasant surprise” for Ong Tee Keat will reinforce the “Chinese view of MCA as subservient to Umno”. Hwa Beng is also correct to say that it “may affect other safe MCA seats”.
Najib in selecting Tee Keat over Soi Lek’s head sends the signal that “MCA is irrelevant” (see Hwa Beng’s Twitter exchange below).
Therefore the decision to field Ong Tee Keat does not merely impact on the Pandan seat alone but has ramifications on the MCA-Umno relationship.
Read also, ‘2013: The year BN died’
Soi Lek had previously indicated that Tee Keat might jump ship if certain eventualities arose.
Past actions which bolster Chua’s belief include Tee Keat putting up an opinion poll in his blog shortly after March 8, 2008 asking ‘Should MCA leave BN?’ About 76 percent of the survey respondents said ‘Yes’.
Another move by Tee Keat was his joining Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah’s Amanah group together with former Tourism Minister Kadir Sheikh Fadzir who quit Umno last March, former MIC deputy president S. Subramaniam and several other ex-BN leaders.
The rationale behind the BN high command’s endorsement of Tee Keat – if the TMI story is to be believed – is that his candidacy would help them “claw back some Chinese support which is now at a low point”.
Such a course of action may win the battle but it will lose the war. It is tantamount to a vote of no confidence in the MCA. Furthermore, it strikes at the very underpinnings of the BN consociationalism formula.
I’ve written before that The Star gleefully promotes those people who make the harshest criticisms of Dr Chua and his party. Well, Lee Hwa Beng tweeted that the Ong Tee Keat development is a “slap on the face for MCA”.
Screenshot below is a snippet from a Star article yesterday. The MCA newspaper felt it necessary to mention that Hwa Beng watched a basketball match in the company of the Subang Jaya DAP state assemblywoman and the Kelana Jaya PKR Member of Parliament. What earth-shattering news.
What makes The Star allocate so much space for Lee Hwa Beng? (discounting the rumour mill that he’s in the running to be appointed the paper’s CEO)
One reason he stands in good stead with The Star is that he mirrors the paper’s values.
For example, let’s look at the MCA bashing that is going on in Lee Hwa Beng’s Twitter today, taking particular note of its language and tone.
The threads in Hwa Beng’s Twitter touch on:
(1) The “No! No! No!” response from a Malacca crowd to MCA vice president Ng Yen Yen
(2) “shame on her!” [Ng Yen Yen]
(3) Message directed to Chua Soi Lek: “@drchuaSL MCA will officially close shop aftr GE13 by decayed dirty politicians and unwanted by Chinese voters. Ha! Ha!”
(4) “@hwabeng @hannahyeoh perhaps nothing wrong with party… it is the peoples leading the party…”
While Hwa Beng may talk about MCA’s apparent subservience to Umno, the fact of the matter is that the BN Chinese component has already lost whatever little clout that the party used to have. The Tee Keat slap not only leaves MCA red-faced but sends it reeling.
One can see that his own party newspaper considers him irrelevant. Dr Chua is incapable of exerting any influence over The Star (a business entity whose staff receive their salary indirectly from the MCA).
On the other hand, Lee Hwa Beng watching a basketball match is more relevant (worthy of news coverage) in the eyes of the The Jerusubang Star.
Uppermost in the mind of a Chinese would be the thought that if Chua Soi Lek is himself not even able to catch the eye of his party newspaper, how in the world then can he get the ear of the prime minister?