KUALA LUMPUR, March 4 — Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek resigned as deputy president of MCA today, while seven of his supporters in the central committee will also quit, in a move that will pave the way for fresh party polls.
Vice president Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai and 12 other central committee members are also expected to join Dr Chua in forcing fresh elections.
The total of 21 resignations, or two-thirds of the central committee, will now be enough under the MCA Constitution to trigger new elections which must be held within a month.
Dr Chua’s resignation marks the end of the “Greater Unity Plan” where he made peace with party president Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat.
The protracted party leadership crisis began after Dr Chua was sacked from his post but it was later changed to a suspension.
Liow and his allies in the central committee had, however, objected to the peace plan, and have campaigned hard for fresh polls.
His faction then sent in conditional resignation letters but the 13 were not enough to force party polls as it did not meet the two-thirds majority requirement.
The MCA is a senior partner in the Umno-led Barisan National (BN) but its festering leadership crisis, if prolonged, could affect the ruling coalition’s chances in the next general elections, which may be called as early as 2011.
The MCA crisis has become a major concern for the BN leadership as it fears the problem could jeopardise the already waning Chinese support for the ruling coalition.
MCA had plunged deep into crisis after the Oct 10 extraordinary general meeting (EGM) last year which later saw it split into three factions — the third led by Liow — after Ong and his estranged deputy Dr Chua reconciled.
The situation worsened after Ong sacked Wanita chief Datin Paduka Chew Mei Fun and Youth chief Datuk Wee Ka Siong from the presidential council.