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M'sia's former health minister named MCA president

Publication Date : 22-12-2013


The Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA), beset by infighting, has elected former minister Liow Tiong Lai as its newest president in its annual meeting on Saturday, as the party struggles to remain relevant in a political landscape almost used to being without it.

Liow, a former health minister, garnered 1,186 votes to beat former party president Ong Tee Keat (160) and Gan Ping Sieu (1,000), who is seen as a proxy for the faction led by incumbent president Dr Chua Soi Lek.

Liow's running mate, former deputy minister for education Dr Wee Ka Siong, secured the deputy president's post with 1,480 votes against Donald Lim, who got 927 votes and also seen to linked to Chua's faction.

The MCA, formerly Malaysia's second largest political party, is a senior partner in the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition but has struggled to regain Chinese voter support following criticism it has become a stooge to the dominant United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) party.

In the May 5 general election, the MCA suffered its worst election outcome as its 15 parliamentary and 31 state seats it won in 2008 were further reduced to seven and 11 seats respectively.

In one of the highest turnouts ever for a main body MCA party elections, 2,352 delegates on Thursday registered to vote in the party's first presidential election since October 2011, a contest that many see as a turning point for the party.

"The party now needs to restructure itself into a party seen to be able to stand up to Umno in criticising BN policies it disagrees with," said political analyst Dr Oh Ei Sun from Singapore's S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies.

A total of 72 candidates vied for the posts of president, deputy president, four vice presidents and 25 central committee members.

The junior wings' contests were no less heated and were won with narrow margins.

Party education bureau chairman Chong Sin Woon, 39, took a 93-vote lead to become the new MCA Youth chief, taking over from his predecessor Wee. He polled 794 votes over Goh Gaik Meng's 701.

Heng Seai Kie, a former deputy minister for women's affairs, also narrowly won the Women's chief post with 978 votes over her sole opponent Tan Cheng Liang's 841.


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