When Ong Ka Ting was the party president, the MCA annual budget was presented, discussed and approved by the central committee in the first quarter of the year. But no one really knew just how much the MCA really had in terms of assets. As a political party, it did not have to be transparent in its financial reporting.
Even so, the MCA was regarded as being both asset and cash-rich. Speculation about the value of the party’s assets therefore varied, with most observers believing it was somewhere between RM1 billion and RM2 billion.
Most of the MCA’s income was derived from dividends earned by the shares it held in Star Media Group Bhd. Of the RM25 million spent annually, RM5 million was allocated to the president. This was a tradition begun by Ka Ting when he was president.
This money enabled the president to allocate funds to schools, NGOs and temples as he visited the various constituencies in the country.
Ka Ting began the practice because he did not have any ministerial post, and therefore did not have direct access to the resources of the government.
However, when Ong Tee Keat was the president, he continued the arrangement despite the fact that he was a minister.
Since I was not a minister when I served as president, I must admit that this RM5 million came in handy. It sounds like a large amount. However, since I travelled throughout the country frequently and attended many functions, I had to use the amount prudently. If not, I would run short of funds in the third or fourth quarter of the year.