KUALA LUMPUR, 18 Oct 2008: Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi believes that complaints about Umno “bullying” other Barisan Nasional (BN) component parties are an opposition strategy to divide the ruling coalition.
Speaking at the opening of the 55th MCA annual general assembly, Abdullah said such claims were intended to weaken the main component parties of the MCA, Gerakan and MIC.
“There is no such thing. If it were true, I believe many more component parties would have left. Our leaders work well together. If it were true, the government would not be able to work,” Abdullah said in his speech.
“This is a strategy used by the opposition. The issue of Umno being a bully was not started by the component parties. As far as I know, as far as I read in the newspapers, it is from the opposition.”
He said the fact that issues raised by component party heads in cabinet were eventually solved, was proof that Umno was not a bully.
Started by opposition
At a press conference later, Abdullah was asked if he could acknowledge that such complaints have also come from the grassroots of component parties.
He replied: “Later it came. But from what I know, it was started by non-component party members. It was started by the opposition.”
Earlier, Ong said in his speech that the BN suffered from a perception problem that power-sharing among the component parties was not on an equal footing.
“To some extent, it is quite real and needs to be corrected. Umno is seen as far too dominant over the other component parties. The leaders may be sincere, but to many people, the perception is that the power-sharing is unequal,” Ong said to applause from assembly delegates.
Yesterday, when opening the Wanita MCA general assembly, party secretary-general Datuk Seri Ong Ka Chuan said MCA and the other component parties should have equal say in the BN.
Also, at the Youth debates yesterday, several speakers took Umno to task for the arrogance displayed by some of its grassroots leaders towards other racial groups.
BN to discuss
On the proposal to create a second BN deputy chairperson post to be filled by the MCA, Abdullah said the matter would be discussed at the BN convention scheduled for early next year.
The suggestion was made by outgoing MCA Youth chief Datuk Liow Tiong Lai at the Youth assembly yesterday.
“There are many ideas and all have to be discussed properly. Whatever is decided must be for the good of the BN. We must also take into account the BN’s history, we have had a structure that has worked well,” Abdullah said.
The BN chairman and deputy chairman posts are held by Umno’s president and deputy president respectively.
In his speech, Abdullah praised outgoing MCA president Datuk Seri Ong Ka Ting for being a strong and effective leader.
In the run-up to, and after, the March general election, Ong came under fire for not being visible enough in voicing the concerns of the Chinese Malaysian community.