Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Malaysia: Chinese party rattled again by sex tape

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — A videotape showing a top ethnic Chinese politician engaging in illegal sex acts has resurfaced in Malaysia, causing a rift in his party that could rock the ruling coalition, already severely weakened by electoral losses.A split in the Malaysian Chinese Association party, the second biggest component of the ruling National Front coalition, bodes ill for the government whose popularity has plummeted in recent months. It retained power with an unconvincing victory in the March 2008 general elections.
The fighting is between MCA president Ong Tee Keat and his deputy and rival, Chua Soi Lek, who has acknowledged being the person in the videotape that first surfaced in 2007 showing him having sex with a woman other than his wife.At the time, it was generally acknowledged — and ignored — that Chua had engaged in oral sex, which is illegal in Malaysia. Chua resigned as health minister, and the controversy died.
Chua then staged a surprise comeback, being elected the party's deputy president in October.However, earlier this month, a man who claimed he had received fresh copies of the video filed a police complaint against Chua for having oral sex. Police were compelled to open an investigation.Ong, who is also transport minister, has refused to back Chua, his rival for authority in the party."You think we should support something that is against the law?" he said. "What is there to argue about and blame the whole world except yourself?"On Monday, police questioned Chua for allegedly committing an illegal sex act, or "carnal intercourse against the order of nature," which is punishable by up to 20 years jail in prison.Chua — without blaming Ong directly — has indicated he is a victim of a political conspiracy."I strongly feel that there is an attempt by some quarters to revise these DVD tapes to continue to discredit me, to threaten and cow me into silence," Chua wrote on his blog Tuesday.
He could be suspended from the party by its disciplinary board."It's the start of a very bad fight," Ooi Kee Beng, a political analyst at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies in Singapore, said Wednesday. He said some MCA members may even defect to the opposition, further reducing the narrow parliamentary majority of the coalition."One can imagine a scenario where the MCA would split. This would jeopardize the National Front," he told The Associated Press.
The National Front's main component, the United Malays National Organization party, has also been racked by a leadership struggle between Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and dissidents. As a result, Abdullah will step down and hand over power to his deputy, likely on March 31.The MCA is the second biggest party after UMNO in the National Front. The coalition is made up of 13 parties that represent the various ethnic groups in the country's 27 million people — Malays who are 60 percent, Chinese who are 25 percent, Indians who are 7 percent and others. - Ap
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