Thursday, May 15, 2008

'Opposition offered us millions to switch camps' - NST

KUALA LUMPUR: May 15, 2008

Kinabatangan MP Datuk Bung Mokhtar Radin was approached by PKR leaders.

Millions of ringgit have allegedly been offered to tempt Barisan Nasional MPs from Sabah to join the opposition.

Sabah backbenchers yesterday said they were approached with incentives of cash and positions to jump ship, as rumours swirled in Dewan Rakyat of impending defections to the Pakatan Rakyat camp.

The rumoured amounts ranged from RM5 million to RM30 million for each MP - more if he brings others with him.

Kinabatangan MP Datuk Bung Mokhtar Radin said he was approached by Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) leaders after the general election and enticed to abandon BN.

Talk of crossovers intensified after the formation of the cabinet in March, and has been kept at fever pitch by the PKR leadership ever since.

"There was a discussion but it did not go to the extent of money being offered," Bung Mokhtar said.

"Maybe because I did not show much interest from the outset that they did not go to the next stage of offering me money," said the Kinabatanagan Umno division chief.

Datuk Abdul Rahman Dahalan (BN-Silam) was lured not just with money but the prospect of "making history in creating a new Malaysia".

"They made it sound like it was some sort of national duty," he said.

He voiced his displeasure in the House while debating the Royal Address on Tuesday evening.

"I will say that a certain amount of money was offered," he said.

Pressed further on the amount, he said: "If I take it, I will be wealthy for two or three generations."

Abdul Rahman said a cabinet post was also thrown in as part of the deal for him to leave BN. He denied he would switch sides, saying to do so would go against his stand against corruption.

Abdul Rahman said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi was looking into the needs of the grassroots in Sabah and Sarawak.

"You have to give time for all this to be looked into and implemented," he said.

Kalabakan MP Datuk Seri Abdul Ghapur Salleh who, along with Kinamis MP Datuk Anifah Aman, had been at the centre of defection rumours due to his vocal discontent in the Dewan, said he did not see what the big deal was about BN MPs jumping ship.

"They can jump if they are not satisfied but I won't jump. If I am not happy, I will leave BN and form my own party because the party that we jump to may question us again.

"We have to voice out what is necessary. Yes, I did mention that Sabah and Sarawak contributed 54 seats and if it was not because of us, BN would have lost but no one should question our credibility or sincerity because of this.

"If we keep quiet, the people of Sabah will start pressuring us to quit the party," he said.

Ghapur refused to comment on rumours that he had been offered RM30 million.

Anifah was equally evasive about the opposition's offers.

"The offers are not important. What is important are the interests of the Sabah people," he said.

The former deputy minister was upset that his call for the federal government to pay more attention to Sabah was taken out of context.

"If we can't raise our issues and grouses in Parliament, then where else can we go?"

Both Ghapur and Anifah had declined deputy minister's posts two months ago.

Parti Keadilan Rakyat vice-president Azmin Ali (PKR-Gombak) said the party's doors were open to all MPs but denied monetary rewards were involved.

Umno Youth chief Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein, however, attributed the rumours and allegations of defections to Anwar.

"I was told that they were going to form a new government today but here I am still doing my duties as the education minister.

"We are moving forward by reinventing BN and Umno while they have been moving the dates on which they would be forming a new government."

He said the people were tired of Anwar's boasting of being the prime minister-in-waiting.

"I do not deny that things are not perfect in Sabah and Sarawak but we spent billions to bring development to both states and we are trying hard to address the issues," he said.

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