Saturday, August 14, 2010

Battle for Chinese support looming in PKR

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By Syed Jaymal Zahiid

KUALA LUMPUR: A battle for the title of supreme Chinese leader in PKR is shaping up, with rival factions accusing each other of sabotage in the run-up to the party polls scheduled to be held by year-end.

FMT understands that influential former MCA deputy president and PKR supreme council member Chua Jui Meng is the latest subject of attack by a rival faction led by the party's chief strategist Chua Tian Chang or popularly known as Tian Chua.

Chua, who is also the party's Johor chief, has come under attack from the Sultan of Johor and Umno for allegedly dragging the royal household into politics when a banner which used the sultan's name and mentioned Chua as the next Johor menteri besar appeared.

While the former MCA man alleged the incident was Umno's doing, party sources told FMT that the banner debacle could have been engineered by an "ambitious national-level leader".

"The leader referred to is no other than Tian Chua. Think about it: Chua is a rising star in PKR. Very influential. And despite only joining the party for a while, he has done much to draw Chinese support towards PKR, especially in Johor," a party official said.

"Tian Chua, on the other hand, has been in the party for a long time, but he has yet to gain any significant influence either at top or below. To make it short, Chua is seen as a direct threat to him," the party official added.

Covert ops by Tian Chua's men?

Several party sources claim this is not the first time factions led by Tian Chua had launched "covert ops" against what is perceived to be rising Chinese leaders within the party.

Although Tian Chua, a former PKR vice-president himself, holds no important post in the party, sources say the chief strategist have planted several of his followers in key posts in the party.

It is understood that top Chinese leaders like Gopeng MP and PKR vice-president Dr Lee Boon Chye, supreme council member and Selayang MP William Leong and Petaling Jaya Selatan MP Hee Loy Sian are all followers of Tian Chua.

"They form his power base within the party and it gives him the opportunity to set forth his agenda. It also consolidates his position as the number one Chinese leader in the party," said another party source.

Chua's presence, however, would add a different dimension to the party where new and talented Chinese leaders would come in and build his support base.

Anwar-Azmin-Chua pact leaves Tian Chua out

It is learnt that Chua is also vying for the vice-president's post in the coming party polls. If he wins, his position in the party will be further strengthened and he will be able to exert his influence over the choice of candidates for Chinese leaders within the party.

"This is a threat to Tian Chua and his men. Tian Chua and gang may feel that Chua would favour his own men when the time to select candidates arrives," said another party source.

Chua also has strong influence and is considered to be in the inner circle of party de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim. He is also close to Tian Chua's rival, party vice-president and aspiring PKR deputy president Azmin Ali.

"All these are factors enough to worry Tian Chua's faction. If Chua wins, you have the Anwar-Azmin-Chua power pact and Tian Chua's influence will die off and his men sidelined," said the same party source.

Both Tian Chua and Chua could not be reached for comments.

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