One of Fong’s men likely candidate
Even as they mourned for the late Machap state assemblyman Datuk Poh Ah Tiam, who will be buried today, the question on the lips of many MCA members and political observers here is who will be the party’s candidate in the by-election.Many believe that the candidate is likely to be one of MCA vice-president Datuk Seri Dr Fong Chan Onn’s men.
The names that keep cropping up are Fong’s special assistant Ngow Dow Soon, his political secretary Lai Meng Chong and his private secretary Chew Chong Lin.Ngow, a former Public Works Department engineer, and Lai are Alor Gajah MCA division vice-chairmen while Chew is the Selandar MCA branch chairman. Fong is the Alor Gajah MCA chairman while Poh was his deputy.
Although the official announcement is only expected on Friday, Ngow seems to be leading the pack as the most likely candidate. However, political observers are not writing off the chances of Lai, who was born and bred in Machap, and Chew, just yet.
The dates for the nomination and polling will be announced tomorrow by the Election Commission.Chief Minister and Malacca Barisan Nasional chairman, Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Rustam had said that he would be meeting Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and MCA president Datuk Seri Ong Ka Ting in Kuala Lumpur on Thursday to discuss and shortlist the possible candidates.
"No discussions would be held before Poh’s funeral," Mohd Ali had stressed.
Poh, who was also the state MCA chairman and Housing and Local Government and Environment Committee chairman, died on Thursday at the Pantai Medical Centre in Ayer Keroh from cancer and acute renal failure. He will be buried at the Fui Chiew cemetery in Jelutong here this afternoon.
The opposition parties are also keeping mum about their possible candidates although the DAP is likely to contest the by-election.
DAP’s possible candidates are Liou Chen Kuang, whom Poh had beaten with a 4,562 majority in the last general election, or Tey Kok Kiew, who is special assistant to the party’s secretary-general Lim Guan Eng.
Parti Keadilan Rakyat’s information chief is also said to be keen to contest the seat. Pas, on the other hand, had said that it would not be fielding a candidate.
Perak PPP deputy chairman Naran Singh, meanwhile, said that the seat should be given to his party in the spirit of co-operation among Barisan Nasional component parties.
He said his party should be given a chance to contest the by-election as it had a member in Malacca who was appointed a senator in October 2005.
The position of the state MCA liaison committee chairman, which was previously held by Poh, has also come under scrutiny. Although Malacca MCA deputy chairman Datuk Seah Kwi Tong is supposed to take over, some quarters had said that he did not enjoy the support of the grassroots. A source said if Seah was appointed, "the party would face numerous problems" in the near future.
"MCA have to look for a candidate who will bring stability to Malacca MCA. A wrong move will surely cause problems, especially in the next general election," he said.
With this internal problem brewing within Malacca MCA, the chairman’s position is likely to be assumed by Ong, his deputy Datuk Seri Chan Kong Choy or by Fong.MCA is also expected to push for one of their state assemblymen to take over Poh’s state exco position. Tipped to assume the post of state executive councillor for Housing, Local Government and Environment is Koh Nai Kwong, who is the Kesidang state assemblyman.
Koh is currently vice- chairman II of the Housing, Local Government and Environment portfolio and had been representing Poh in various functions since Poh became ill.