Najib's peace plan working

KUALA LUMPUR: Barisan Nasional chairman Datuk Seri Najib Razak's peace plan for the MCA could see the Nov 28 extraordinary general meeting being called off and fresh party polls being held.

The issues that appear to be contentious now are confined to the date of party polls and an acceptable electoral system.

MCA vice-president Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai, who leads one of two opposing factions in the party, said in Kuala Terengganu yesterday that he would call off the Nov 28 EGM if all parties agreed to fresh elections.

Liow said this was the fastest way to resolve the current crisis, which has split the party following the Oct 10 EGM which rejected president Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat and his deputy, Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek, as MCA leaders.

"If it (fresh elections) can be determined before Nov 28 and if the proposed date is agreeable to all, then we will call off the EGM as the purpose of the meeting is to seek fresh elections.

"We were elected as Central Committee members by the present delegates and they will vote for us again.

"We have the list ready; we can call for an election. It can be done in a short time," he said at the state MCA building here on Friday night where he briefed state MCA members about the party's leadership crisis.

On the best time for fresh elections, Liow replied "as soon as possible".

On Friday, Dr Chua said he supported fresh elections, to be held at the earliest in March, provided the present electoral system was maintained. The party is still studying ways to revamp its electoral system.

On Thursday, Ong, Dr Chua and secretary-general Datuk Wong Foon Meng met Najib for 45 minutes.

Liow, Youth chief Datuk Wee Ka Siong and Wanita chief Datin Paduka Chew Mei Fun met him the next day.

Both sides said Najib indicated he favoured fresh polls.

However, Ong appeared sceptical about Liow's readiness to call off the EGM, reminding that he (Ong) had in fact proposed fresh party polls at the Oct 15 Central Committee meeting.

"But Liow's camp opposed the proposal. There are too many red herrings.

"He has said nothing new and his commitment to such a proposal (calling off the EGM) is questionable.

"Too many flip-flops have made any engagements with him futile," Ong, who is the transport minister, said via text message from London, where he is attending the International Maritime Organisation meeting.

Asked if he agreed to fresh polls and the date, he said: "I have made it clear if we want to have fresh polls, it must be based on a new electoral system involving a wider base of delegates at the divisional level."

Najib steps in to resolve MCA dispute

KUALA LUMPUR- PRIME Minister Najib Razak is finally stepping in to resolve the leadership crisis in the Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA) which may put the image of the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) at risk.

Datuk Seri Najib, who is also BN chairman, had refrained from intervening in the past few months, saying he would do so only if invited.

The factional infighting came to a head on Wednesday when the chiefs of MCA youth and women's wings and seven other officials were removed from the presidential council.

On Thursday, Mr Najib said he would meet the MCA leaders individually, before Nov 28. 'I would find time to talk to them and see if there is a common ground. We will take it from there,' he was quoted as saying by Bernama news agency.

MCA, the country's second largest political party, has been locked for months in a leadership dispute that has splintered it into at least three factions. The infighting intensified with the sacking of deputy president Chua Soi Lek in August over an old sex scandal, a move orchestrated by his rival, party president Ong Tee Keat.

At a special extraordinary general meeting last month, both leaders were rejected by delegates. Then, barely two weeks later, the two men sprang a surprise by ending their feud and pledging to unite the party.

APEC Leaders Adopt Firm Stand To Revive World Economy: Says Najib

SINGAPORE, Nov 15 (Bernama) -- The Asia-Pacific Economies Leaders' Meeting (AELM) has taken a "firm and concrete" stand to revive the sluggish world economy, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said Sunday.

He said leaders of the 21 Apec-member economies strongly rejected any move towards trade protectionism and want the Doha Round trade negotiations to be concluded by end of next year.

Speaking at a press conference at the end of the two-day AELM, Najib said the leaders also agreed to coordinate their actions in efforts to develop the regional economy to be more sustainable, inclusive and balanced.

"The leaders want to see this region enjoying balanced and open development, having social safety net, progress in the growth of small and medium enterprises and physical development that can be enjoyed fairly and justly by the people in this region," he said.

The AELM also deliberated on climate change as it is related to disasters that can happen at any time and to face them all the economies agreed to help in disaster relief operations.

On initiatives to consolidate regional economies, Najib said Apec leaders agreed to pursue efforts to lead their economies towards that objective.

"Even now there are already initiatives by a new group called Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) which aspires to further expand the free trade area," he said.

TPP, a collaborative initiative among Brunei, Singapore, Chile and New Zealand, has now gained the attention of the United States, Australia, Peru and Vietnam.

In this regard, Najib said as there were more and more groups such as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), Asean 3, Asean 6 and now TPP, concerted efforts must be made to harmonise their roles towards one main objective -- expand free trade area.

The two-day AELM, which began yesterday, was chaired by Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

Renewed calls for PM to help resolve MCA crisis

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 13 (Bernama) -- There are renewed calls for Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and former MCA leaders to step in to resolve the persisting crisis in the party.

Najib, who is the Barisan Nasional chairman, had said that he would not interevene unless he was asked officially, after similar calls had been made by party vice-president Datuk Seri Kong Cho Ha and also Umno vice-president Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein.

Today, Rasa Jaya branch chairman Datuk Tan Kah Choun, who has called himself the spokesman for the MCA "third force", said he supported the "greater unity plan" (GUP) for the party but asked the prime minister to meet up with former party leaders to help put the MCA back together.

"In order to put an end to the MCA internal crisis and to rebuild the good image of BN, I sincerely urge the BN chairman-cum-prime minister to meet up and consult with 11 MCA party veterans who are the past presidents and deputy presidents," he told reporters.

He named Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu (MCA president from March 1958-July 1959), Tan Sri Lee San Choon, Tan Sri Michael Chen Wing Sum, Datuk Dr Neo Yee Pan, Datuk Mak Hon Kam, Tan Koon Swan, Tun Dr Ling Liong Sik, Tan Sri Lee Kim Sai, Tan Sri Lim Ah Lek, Tan Sri Ong Ka Ting and Tan Sri Chan Kong Choy.

Tan said should the prime minister be unable to meet up with all of them, he suggested that Najib meet Dr Ling and Chen or as a last resort, consult former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad who had dealt with at least three MCA crises.

Tan said as long as the MCA could move on peacefully, united and strong, it did not matter who became the president and deputy president.

He is also against the Nov 28 extraordinary general meeting (EGM) called by the group of 16 central committee members ahead of the party's annual general meeting on Dec 5.

He said they should instead adopt the GUP initiated by party president Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat and deputy president Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek last month as the two, once rivals, were prepared to work together for the sake of the party.

Meanwhile, MCA Petaling Jaya Utara secretary Datuk Dr Wong Sai Hou called for a halt to the leadership squabble.

"As a grassroot leader, I feel very strongly that there should be an end to all knee-jerk reactions," said Dr Wong in a statement.

He urged all quarters to attend the Nov 15 dialogue with the grassroot leaders from 191 MCA divisions planned by Dr Chua to clear many issues once and for all.

"It does make sense that all involved parties and especially the grassroots who form the silent majority should meet under one roof for a dialogue; to be briefed and updated on the current issues inclusive of any unity plan to put MCA back on its feet," Dr Wong said.

Wanita MCA vice-chairman Datuk Agnes Shim urged all party members to support the GUP.

"This internal bickering has been going on non-stop for a few months and the fact that it has not been solved till today causes the public to feel disappointed with the party. If this goes on, MCA will lose the trust and support of the Chinese community," she said in a statement.