KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 10, 2009 (AFP) - The leadership crisis in Malaysia's top ethnic Chinese party deepened Saturday with a no-confidence vote against its president and a show of support for his suspended rival.
At a special meeting the Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA), a member of the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition, also overturned the party's decision last month to suspend Chua Soi Lek over a sex-video scandal.
Chua, 62, who was forced to quit as health minister last year after being recorded having sex with an unidentified woman in a hotel room, was the deputy president of the MCA, the second-largest party in Barisan Nasional.
Party president Ong Tee Keat refused to confirm whether he will quit following the no-confidence vote, which the 2,300 delegates adopted by a slim, 14-vote margin. The motion to overturn Chua's suspension was passed with a margin of 109 votes.
"We will cross that bridge when it comes," Ong told reporters. "We respect the decision made by the delegates... We will call for meetings to discuss the future of the party and what's next."
Chua could not be reached for comment.
The MCA's move comes as the Barisan Nasional attempts to regain support from minority Chinese and Indians, who swung away from the coalition in national elections last year.
Prime Minister Najib Razak said Friday he wanted a strong MCA that can help the ruling coalition regain the support of the Chinese community.
In the wake of the sex scandal, Chua last year resigned as the party's number three but was voted back in by party members to the number two post.
That set off a running battle with Ong, who Chua said felt threatened by his support within the party. In recent months the sex scandal was revived with new questions over the legality of the acts depicted in the tape.