Would Ling Liong Sik eventually kow-tow to the concerted pressure mounted directly and openly by UMNO and Gerakan big guns over the PORR conflict?

Press Statement
Ronnie Liu Tian Khiew

(Petaling Jaya, Thursday):  The MCA-Gerakan power tussle over the two Penang MCA State Assembly members Tan Cheng Liang (Jawi) and Lim Boo Chang (Datuk Keramat) for abstaining in the motion by the DAP Assemblyman for Batu Lanchang, Law Heng Kiang in the recent Penang State Assembly to defer the RM1.02 billion Penang Outer Ring Road (PORR) project has now turned into a conflict between MCA and UMNO.

Yesterday, the Prime Minister, who is also BN chairperson, has openly warned that the MCA must abide by the stand taken by the Barisan Nasional , and the BN reserves the right to sack any component party, in this case, the MCA. The BN Chairman even implied that the MCA has not been upholding the system of co-operation in the front in dealing with the matter.

This was the most serious warning coming from Dr Mahathir Mohamad ever since the eruption of the PORR conflict. He was responding to MCA president Dr Ling Liong Sik's statement yesterday that BN could not
directly impose any disciplinary action on individual members of component parties. Ling was reported to have said that according to the BN constitution, participation in the front was based on parties and not individuals. Ling has claimed that it was the responsibility of a component party to take disciplinary action against errant members.

On Nov 29, Dr Mahathir Mohamad announced to the press that the Umno supreme council proposed that MCA sacks the duo from the party. This was supported by Gerakan leaders, including president Dr Lim Keng Yaik and
vice-president Dr Koh Tsu Koon.

The entire nation is watching the "Tussle of the Year" anxiously. The big question now is whether Ling Liong Sik would eventually kow-tow to the concerted pressure mounted directly and openly by UMNO and Gerakan big
guns, none other than Dr Mahathir, Ahmad Badawi and Dr Lim Keng Yaik. It appears that Liong Sik would have no choice but to sack both Lim and Tan who claimed that they have acted with their conscience in the interest of
the Penang people.

I personally do not believe that the BN would go to the extent of sacking MCA from the coalition. The UMNO and other component parties still need the support of the MCA members in the general elections. What Liong Sik
has to worry about is actually his individual interest. It's unlikely that Liong Sik would risk jeopardising his own position in the government. He has time and again trade off party interest and party image to preserve his self-interest in the past. It's therefore a foregone conclusion that both Lim and Tan would turn out to be the sacrificial lambs in this "Tussle of the Year".


* Ronnie Liu Tian Khiew, DAP National Publicity Secretary