January 03, 2008 14:43 PM

PACKING UP ... Datuk Seri Chua Soi Lek packing up his things at his office after announcing his resignation from all post in the cabinet and party on Wednesday. Pix: Mahayudin Mohamad

PUTRAJAYA, Jan 3 (Bernama) -- "My biggest mistake ever since coming to KL is to fulfil my duties as the Health Minister and as MCA vice-president," declared Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek, who quit as Health Minister and from all party posts Wednesday after admitting he was the man featured in a sex DVD, copies of which were widely distributed in Johor.

The 60-year-old Johor politician said his visits to inspect health facilities nationwide and meeting MCA grassroots members gave rise to speculations that he had political agenda, thus becoming a target for people to bring him down politically.

"As Health Minister and MCA vice-president, I had to travel country-wide to know about the medical facilities and to let MCA members know me as I am a new face in national politics. (Dr Chua was a state executive councillor in Johor before being named as a federal minister three-and-a-half-years ago).

"So I feel proud to have visited no less than 100 over hospitals and over 50 health facilities during the three-and-a-half-years as a minister," he told an unscheduled press conference at the Health Ministry. There are 131 government hospitals in the country.

Dr Chua said when he went to some hospitals, he was shocked when told that no politician has ever visited the hospitals despite operating for more than 30 years. "I thought they were joking or being polite but when I looked at the hospitals it was true...nobody has ever visited these hospitals.

"A very good example is that a lot of health facilities like in Batu Road (presently Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman) in Sentul, in Wangsa Maju...ever since they started operations in the 60s not a single politician has ever visited them.

"And because of this and when I meet party members as I travel, there are a lot of speculations that I have political agenda and that I am a very ambitious man...I think that was my biggest mistake," said Dr Chua, who looked relaxed and fielded questions sarcastically.

Dr Chua said when he moved to federal level, he wanted to "go down and see all the hospitals" in the country to understand the situation on the ground and "whenever you travel, you meet a lot of (party) members."

"So a lot of people were highly suspicious of my movements, why is this man working so hard meeting members...so he must have a political agenda. He must be ambitious. This is made worse by the press. The press will always say Dr Chua is one who may be mounting a challenge against the deputy president, against the president. The press helped to kill me, to be honest...so the truth is that the pen is mightier than the sword," he said.

Without pointing fingers at anyone, Dr Chua, a medical doctor, said he was unhappy with the "political behaviour of some leaders" but this was not important anymore as it was now history.

Asked if he knew his political foes, Dr Chua retorted: "People who are suspicious of me are the people who will gain from being suspicious of me. This is Chua Soi Lek. I will never change. People say I am arrogant but I don't think I am arrogant. I am just telling you the truth," he said.

Giving parting advice to the incoming Health Minister, he said: "If you move too fast, then you too would be subjected to speculations...this is the political reality. I agree when some people say this is the Ministry of Hell, not because of the ministry work but because of the political system, but when you work too hard people think you are (politically) ambitious or that you have political agenda," he said.

Dr Chua said he understood the political reality in the country that once "you are no more a political leader, people tend to forget you or stay away from you."

"Sometimes people may not recognise you anymore....I have seen in my own eyes former ministers who attend functions have no place to sit," said the former Labis Member of Parliament.

Asked if he would take a break after this bitter episode, Dr Chua said he would not go on a vacation as this was not "a heart-breaking thing."

"It is wrong to say when you are upset you should go for a holiday. That's wrong...it is a wrong prescription because when a person is upset and he goes on leave, he has more time to think and speculate and that would aggravate his feelings...as far as I am concerned I am not upset. I have stripped-bear myself to all the 26 million Malaysians about my private life. What is there to be sad. I have resigned from all government posts and party posts, what more do they want. They cannot possibly ask for my head because the Malaysian political struggle is not a do or die battle like in Pakistan," he said.

Asked if he would go on a nationwide tour to meet MCA grassroots members, Dr Chua said he would not do so unless invited for functions. "They (grassroots leaders) must understand if I travel now I have to use my own expenses. I have to call and book (flights and hotel rooms). I don't even know how to book a ticket, a hotel room...that's the truth because I have been enjoying these facilities from the government for the last 18 years. From the time of a Johor executive councillor till now...but that's OK. I take it in a stride. That's part of life and now I have to move on to the next stage. There is life after politics after all. If there is an invitation, I will go that is also if people still remember me. But in reality, it is like after the outpouring of support after three days, you will stop ringing and I feel I am not an exception to that," he quipped.

Dr Chua said he came to the Health Ministry today to clear up his personal belongings as the new Health Minister might want to use the office from Monday. He also reiterated that the circulation of the sex DVD was not due to business rivalry as he had never been involved in business.

"It has nothing to do with business because I am not involved in business...it has nothing to do with money because nobody has asked me for money...so the rest I leave it to the people. Who are my enemies, I really don't know. But I am a politician and politicians will have enemies and supporters, this nobody can deny. But as I have already said I am not going to pursue this (taping and circulation of the DVD) because it will never end. I don't even know who did it.

"Even the police will have difficulty because it was done some six to eight months ago...if you look at the tape, there is a date there also. The police have asked me to give a statement on the matter when I have the time," he added.


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