'Businessmen plotting with the opposition'
Saturday, 20 September 2008 08:05am
©New Straits Times (Used by permission)by Hamidah Atan and Farrah Naz KarimPUTRAJAYA: Some prominent businessmen are in cahoots with the opposition to get Barisan Nasional members of parliament to defect from the ruling coalition.
BN Backbenchers Club chairman Datuk Seri Tiong King Sing said at least three MPs had reported to him on the opposition's attempts to lure them.
He said the latest incident happened yesterday.
Tiong said club members, who had been accused of preparing to jump ship, may get together and lodge a police report for slander.On the three latest attempts by the opposition to lure BN MPs, Tiong said they were from either Sabah or Sarawak. He said the MPs were tempted with promises of cabinet posts.
Tiong, who refused to reveal the names of the businessmen, said the negotiations were conducted over the telephone.He said one of the MPs bluntly rejected the offer while the conversation between a businessman and another BN MP was disrupted when the call was cut off."One more MP called me today (yesterday) to tell about an offer that was made to him by a businessman working for the opposition," Tiong told the New Straits Times last night.He said BN MPs had had enough of talk that they were ditching the coalition for the opposition.The club, he said, would hold a meeting as early as today to discuss ways to put a stop to such talk, which he said had marred their reputation.The meeting would also urge all MPs who had been offered inducements to cross over to lodge reports with the Anti-Corruption Agency.Kota Belud MP Datuk Rahman Dahlan, who in May went public on offers by the opposition for him to defect, said such tactics by the opposition were nothing new.He said Pakatan Rakyat leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and his team would continue making claims that BN MPs were ready to defect."We (BN MPs) have signed petitions and pledged our loyalty to BN."... But he (Anwar) will go on claiming that our names including mine are on the list... at the end of the day when it doesn't happen, he will claim that we changed our minds."We should all stop giving him undue credit," he said, adding that a vote of no-confidence should be tabled against the opposition leader in Parliament.This, he said, was because Anwar was unparliamentarian and unfit to be an opposition leader.Revealing the tactics used by the opposition to woo BN MPs, Rahman said from his experience an unknown man would get in touch with the MP to offer inducements.He said an individual who identified himself as acting on behalf of the opposition leaders would initiate dealings.This was to avoid detection by the authorities, including the ACA, which is on the lookout for those who make offers to MPs to defect. The one who met Rahman claimed he was representing Anwar.ACA director-general Datuk Seri Ahmad Said Hamdan said officers would monitor such cases but needed the full co-operation of MPs.He said MPs must report to his agency of any inducement offered to defect to the opposition.He was commenting on a news portal's report that a clutch of businessmen had arranged meetings between Anwar and crossover targets, as well as senior government officials, at their homes in Kuala Lumpur.A news website also reported that state assemblymen had claimed they were also offered several million ringgit to switch political allegiance while the rate was several times higher for MPs.It said the businessmen reported to be involved in wooing BN reps to cross over were not among the "top tier" of the corporate world.They include a former politician-turned-businessman who was charged and convicted for a white-collar offence during the economic crisis in the late 90s and another who enjoys a solid reputation for self-promotion and rubbing shoulders with artistes, royalty and investors.In Sarawak and Sabah, two names figure prominently. One is a Kuching-based businessman-politician, the second, a businessman from Kota Kinabalu who was linked to a major financial scandal which caused the Sabah government to lose several hundred million ringgit in the late 1990s, the report added.The Sabah businessman was said to have accompanied Datuk Seri Yong Teck Lee to a secret meeting with Anwar in Hong Kong in May where they discussed Yong's SAPP deserting the BN to join the opposition coalition.Said said the agency had not received any report on the involvement of businessmen in Anwar's plot to topple the government."We have not received any information on this. Don't believe this. This is only a bait by the opposition," he said.