"It is worth reiterating that the comments purportedly made by me was largely my observation and assessment of the Chinese community's sentiment and perception pursuant to the statement of marginalisation by (Minister Mentor) Lee Kuan Yew of Singapore," he said.
Lee had in September 2006 told journalists at the sidelines of a World Bank-International Monetary Fund meeting in Singapore that ethnic Chinese in both Malaysia and Indonesia were marginalised - a provocative statement that resonated with a significant segment of the Chinese populace across the Causeway.
"Our neighbours both have problems with their Chinese. They are successful. They are hardworking and, therefore, they are systematically marginalised," Lee was quoted as saying.
US diplomats had then sought Ong's opinion on the comments, who remarked that the Chinese community in Malaysia were well aware that they were marginalised.
'Leftovers', 'crumbs' are metaphoric descriptions
In a statement to Malaysiakini today, Ong denied that his description of "leftovers" and "crumbs" referred to government projects, explaining that they were something that was expressed by the Chinese business community.
"The metaphoric descriptions of 'leftovers' and 'crumbs' were the exact words I quoted from certain corporate personalities that were coincidentally shared by the petty traders in my own constituency over the issue in September 2006," he said.
His comments come after Malaysiakini reported a confidential cable between Washington and its embassy in Kuala Lumpur that was released by whistleblower site Wikileaks last week, detailing Ong's meeting with US embassy officials.
According to the cable, Ong was quoted as saying that "there was once a day in Malaysia when MCA would get the leftovers, but now we are just hoping to get some crumbs from the Umno table".
Ong was VP when he made the remarks
Standing by his statement to US diplomats, the Pandan MP conceded that he had kept his views private because he knew it would raise eyebrows within the MCA leadership.
"Throughout the conversation, the only view of mine expressed was the prior assessment of the Chinese support for BN/MCA in the 12th general election. I was not at all optimistic then.
"Unfortunately, what I described as 'plummeting Chinese support for the party' really came true as an enormous wave of political tsunami in the 2008 poll later."
In what appears to be a challenge to the current MCA president Chua Soi Lek, Ong said that it was up to MCA to decide if they share the sentiment of the Chinese community.
"As to whether MCA shares the (Chinese) community's perception of being marginalised or otherwise, the current party leadership should have the courage and wisdom to answer. After all, I have no role to play in it anymore," he said.
Ong was a MCA vice-president when he made the remarks in 2006 and later went on to helm the party's presidency before being ousted by Chua in 2010.
seals: So ot is not only Indians..... so what the Heck MCA and MIC doing in UMNO? (BN Never existed) Does Palanivel has the guts to challenge to quit BN if UMNO fails to deliver what is due to Indians, like what he said when he had the fear the other Indian parties will join BN?