KUALA LUMPUR, March 21 (Bernama) -- Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek announced today he is going for the presidency in the MCA elections next Sunday, making the contest for the post, as of now, a three-corner fight.
He made the much-anticipated announcement at a leading hotel here, flanked by his loyalists, among them divisional leaders Datuk Seri Tan Chai Ho (Bandar Tun Razak) and Dr Lee Hong Tee (Segamat), Kedah MCA deputy chief Datuk Chong Itt Chew as well as Central Committee (CC) member aspirant Loh Seng Kok.
Housing and Local Government Minister Datuk Seri Kong Cho Ha, who is contesting the deputy presidency, and Datuk Donald Lim, who is going for a vice-presidency, were also present.
Leaders from at least from 40 divisions in nine states and some 500 supporters also attended the event. Some were ferried from Dr Chua's strongholds in Batu Pahat and Labis to shore up support for the former deputy president's candidacy.
In addressing his supporters, Dr Chua said he had a strategy in place to unite, stabilise and revitalise the party.
"Having worked my way up from serving as a branch chairman, I understand very well the situation on the ground, and the aspiration of the grassroots," he said.
He said MCA needed a strong leader who had a clear vision for the party's future direction and could put the team together and move the party forward, especially in view of the next general election.
Using the metaphor of the working habit of ants, Dr Chua said that only by working together as a team and with everyone playing their role could the party be saved.
"The strength of one ant has its limits. If one million MCA members can work together with full dedication and as a team, then we have hope that the party can be transformed," he said.
Dr Chua is in for a three-corner fight with incumbent president Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat and former president Tan Sri Ong Ka Ting.
At a news conference later, Dr Chua said he was optimistic and described his chances of victory "as good as the other candidates".
He expressed his readiness to work with any leader after the elections.
The former Health Minister was also asked whether his infamous 2008 sex scandal would be used to undermine his chances.
He said he expected the same tactic to be employed as his contenders "have nothing else to talk about".
"I have come to accept that in politics there will be people who will make use of anything in the respective political interest. But, I give the assurance that I will not use personal issues.
"Every senior leader in the MCA has certain weaknesses, only that they are either exposed or not exposed. No political leader is perfect," he said.
Following the sex scandal expose, Dr Chua resigned from all his posts in the government and party in January 2008 but returned to the political limelight after winning the MCA deputy presidency in October 2008 when he polled 1,115 votes to defeat former secretary-general Datuk Seri Ong Ka Chuan by a 114-vote majority.
Nomination for the MCA elections will be held from 1pm to 5 pm tomorrow at Wisma MCA.