The counting of ballots for the hotly-contested MCA triennial party election is currently underway after a two-hour polling closed at about 3pm today.
At press time, the counting is going on in the San Choon Hall at the MCA headquarters in Jalan Ampang, Kuala Lumpur. The polling and counting went on smoothly with no untoward incident reported.
A high attendance of 99.04 percent, or 2,378 delegates, turned up to cast their votes today. The election results are expected to be known after 7pm.
According to seasoned party observers, there appeared to be mixed signals from the delegates so far but the question on everyone’s lips now is whether there will be any major upset in the contest for top posts.
All eyes are focus on the tussle for the presidency which is a straight fight between former vice-president Chua Jui Meng and incumbent vice-president Ong Tee Keat.
Favourite Tee Keat is said to be still having an edge over his rival although Jui Meng’s camp said they are confident to garner more than 40 percent votes based on the exit polls.
In his previous bid for the presidency in 2005, Jui Meng was defeated by the current president Ong Ka Ting. He garnered 37 percent of votes then.
Tough task for new leadership
As for the four-cornered fight for the deputy presidency, the race is said to be between another former vice-president Dr Chua Soi Lek and secretary-general Ong Ka Chuan.
The two other candidates are incumbent vice-president Donald Lim and former Penang state assemblyperson Lee Hack Teik.
Ka Chuan, aligned to the mainstream faction of the party leadership, was initially seen to be leading the race but Soi Lek was said to have picked up steam in the final push for votes.
During the introduction of the candidates at noon just now, Soi Lek was given a louder applause as compared to the scattered response received by Ka Chuan, also the elder brother of Ka Ting.
For the vice-president's posts, eight candidates are vying for the four slots - incumbent vice-president Dr Fong Chan Onn, ex-vice-president Yap Pian Hon, outgoing MCA Youth chief Liow Tiong Lai, outgoing MCA Wanita chief Dr Ng Yen Yen, Deputy Home Minister Chor Chee Heung, Kuala Langat MCA division vice-chairperson Lim Teck Chong, Johor deputy chief Tan Kok Hong and Deputy Finance Minister Kong Cho Ha.
It is believed that Liow and Kong are the front runners and the remaining two positions are narrowed down to Ng, Tan and Chor.
A total of 63 candidates, the biggest field in MCA's electoral histroy, are vying for the 25 slots in the powerful central committee, the party’s highest decision-making body.
Ka Ting and his deputy Chan Kong Choy are not defending their posts.
MCA is trying to regain the hearts and minds of the Chinese community following its humiliating defeat in the March general election.
At the national polls, the party only managed to win 46 state and parliamentary seats compared to the 106 it had secured at the 2004 polls.
The new batch of leaders will have a tough task in regaining the support of the community.