Friday, March 21, 2008

Crossing the line: Umno to check MP buyout claims

Crossing the line: Umno to check MP buyout claims
By Deborah Loh

PUTRAJAYA: Umno will send out "intelligence teams" to check whether the opposition is trying to entice Barisan Nasional MPs to leave the ruling coalition.

Newly appointed party secretary-general Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor said feedback was sketchy.

"Some people are saying this... We will get our intelligence to check," he said after attending Maulidur Rasul celebrations at the Putra Mosque here, yesterday.

The Putrajaya MP also said the opposition should not be "so stupid" as to think they could "buy" BN MPs.

"Why should they buy our people over when we've already won? They think we are weak because we lost in five states and we didn't get a two-thirds majority but actually, we are only eight seats short (of a two-thirds majority in parliament).
"So we are still strong. Our elected representatives still know that BN is the only one that can carry Malaysia into the future," he said.

On Monday, Parti Keadilan Rakyat adviser Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim claimed that he had met a number of BN representives, mostly in Sarawak and Sabah, to discuss their defections.

Rumours swirled the next day when Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi announced a leaner and fitter cabinet, disappointing various party bigwigs who had not been chosen.

Abdullah has said he was aware of attempts to lure BN MPs into switching camps but stressed that the ruling coalition would stand firm.

In Kuching, Sarawak United People's Party president Tan Sri Dr George Chan dismissed reports that Serian member of parliament Datuk Richard Riot Jaem had resigned from the party.

Malaysian govt investigating defection claims: reports - Malaysia's ruling coalition is investigating claims that the opposition could seize power with the help of lawmakers who are considering defecting, reports said Friday.
The dominant United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) said it is sending teams out to check on rumoured defections by members of coalition component parties alienated after disastrous March 8 election results.
"Some people are saying this... we will get our intelligence to check," UMNO secretary-general Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor said according to the New Straits Times.
"Why should they buy our people over when we've already won? They think we are weak because we lost in five states and we didn't get a two-thirds majority (in parliament)," he said.
Emboldened by the results, the worst in the Barisan Nasional coalition's half-century rule over Malaysia, opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim has said that lawmakers have approached him about switching sides.
"I don't know how soon we can form the new government but we are moving in that direction," Anwar, a former deputy prime minister who was sacked and jailed a decade ago, said earlier this week.
Anwar said that coalition lawmakers from Malaysia's eastern states of Sabah and Sarawak on Borneo island had contacted him to discuss switching sides. The power bloc there could unseat the government if it changed hands.
He has insisted that defectors will not be "bought" and other opposition figures have challenged the government to file a police report if they find evidence of improper payments.
Amid reports that the first of the defectors had resigned from the coalition, the Sarawak United People's Party told state media that the stories were false and that its lawmaker Richard Riot still belonged to the party.
Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi has dismissed Anwar's plans, and downplayed suggestions of splits within UMNO after a series of high-level resignations.
The premier's decision to streamline the cabinet and drop veteran politicians in a new line-up announced Monday has also alienated government lawmakers who were overlooked.
Barisan Nasional will have 140 lawmakers in the new 222-seat parliament, against 199 in the outgoing 219-seat parliament. The opposition alliance won 80 seats from just 19 previously.
Source: AFP via MSN News -

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