Will MCA lawmakers defect to the opposition?

Posted by SM Maulana
Wednesday, 18 June 2008

Radio Singapore International

Malaysian de facto opposition leader, Mr Anwar Ibrahim has claimed that there are lawmakers from the Malaysian Chinese Association, one of the Barisan Nasional’s component parties, who will crossover to the Pakatan Rakyat opposition alliance.

Mr Anwar has made similar claims of BN MPs defecting to the opposition in recent months but this is the first time he has named a single party.

He also hinted that he could contest a by-election in Perak, which could give him a parliamentary seat that he needs to lead the opposition alliance to power.

How true is his claim that MCA MPs will defect to the opposition? A question Shereena Sajeed posed to Member of Parliament-elect Liew Chin Tong from the DAP.

LCT: I am not sure how much of truth there is to his claim but I think it has sent shockwaves into MCA.

And could you tell us how MCA is reacting to this claim by Anwar?

LCT: I think MCA is over-reacting but it is a political reality that the party finds it difficult to hold itself together which is why whatever they call a bluff, they are still in shock by Anwar’s so-called revelation.

Now there have been reports that MCA has denied Anwar’s claims, is that true?

LCT: Yeah, MCA is on the New Straits Times front page that MCA calls Anwar bluff but according to the MCA Secretary-General Dato Seri Ong Ka Chuan, all 15 MCA MPs have connected him to deny even ever meeting Anwar, let alone jump ship but I think that itself shows that Anwar’s claims has sent shockwaves into the party.

Now what about parties from the Eastern states like Sabah and Sarawak, as of now, where do they stand in terms of defecting to the opposition or staying with BN?

LCT: I think claims about parties in Sabah quitting Barisan Nasional and remain as independents’ seems to be more realistic and possible. They are a real movement in Sabah which is why the Prime Minister is visiting Sabah again either today or tomorrow so it seems that claims about Sabah parties quitting the coalition government is quite possible.

Now the whole situation in Malaysia, the political situation I mean, it seems quite fragile at this point in time. How do you see the whole situation panning out say in the next month or two, maybe?

LCT: I think the main problem is that Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi has refused to pave the way for a succession. I think the people within UMNO is trying to get him to resign and retire within the next few months before the party elections so that there can be a smooth transition between him and his deputy but two days ago, the Prime Minister came out strongly that there would be a succession but after UMNO’s party elections. I think with that the party becomes restless.

Now turning to, Mr Anwar, he has said that he may contest the seat in Perak in a by-election, what do you think are his chances in winning that by-election?

LCT: Well, first of all, I think that was a political statement, pending on court decisions. He was referring to the seat of Kuala Kangsar which is held by former International Trade Minister, Rafidah Aziz which is involved in a court case, in an election petition case so he was in peril and he was referring to that case and he said if there is a vacancy resulting from court decisions then he would contest in that seat so I think it was a political statement and I don’t think it will happen unless the court decides that the seat is vacant.

Now Anwar has also, in previous reports said that by September the opposition will topple the BN government, what does he have to do in order for him to get a parliamentary seat and eventually lead the opposition to power?

LCT: I think there’s no urgency for him to contest the seat, if eventually there is a change of power, he can easily get a seat, after the change of power.

So basically, there’s no rush then, you’re saying?

LCT: Yeah I think basically, he is in a very comfortable position. There’s no urgency on his part to rush into a by-election and I think that so long as he can ensure that there are several political parties from coalition quitting Barisan Nasional in the next month or two, then people would take his word seriously.

Separately, the Federal Court has allowed Mr Anwar to appeal his charges, what is the significance of that in relation to his political ambitions?

LCT: I think as the Federal Government lawyer pointed out that it was academic, I think the case is an academic case that whatever outcome will only give him moral standing. It won’t have real political impact on the actual situation but it would give him tremendous moral boost if the court rules in his favour.

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