17 March, 2008

Anwar says ruling party members want to defect

Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim claimed Monday that many lawmakers in the ruling coalition want to defect to his camp after their election debacle.

Anwar told reporters he has been approached by many ruling party lawmakers who won in the March 8 general elections. They are welcome to defect but no bribes will be paid to make them to cross over, he said.

"We will remain consistent and committed to the code of ethics. If you want to surrender at a price you have chosen the wrong party," he told reporters.

Buying political support, especially by paying voters money, is common in Malaysia, and bribing lawmakers to defect, while not widespread, is known to occur.

Anwar's claim could not be immediately confirmed, but would add to persistent rumors of political horse-trading in the aftermath of the disastrous poll results for Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi's coalition.

Abdullah says he has the full support of his party, and has rejected calls to step down. But Anwar's claim, if true, would add pressure on him to keep the party together.

Anwar did not say how many National Front members have approached him, but said they belonged to Abdullah's United Malays National Organization, the main party in the National Front, as well as other smaller parties.

Anwar said many of those who approached him won their seats from Sabah and Sarawak states on Borneo island, which have emerged as UMNO's political stronghold after its spectacular loss of support in mainland Malaysia.

The National Front won 54 out of the 56 seats in the two states, accounting for nearly 39 percent of its total 140 seats it Parliament. Most of the 54 seats were won by UMNO candidates.

Still Blind To Reality!

If Abdullah Badawi could not leverage the huge mandate he received in 2004 into effective leadership, there is little hope that he could do any better now that he had been severely mauled in the last election. Those who think otherwise are merely deluding themselves and engaging in wishful thinking.

All the top leaders of UMNO are afflicted by this collective blindness, a willful refusal to see or even acknowledge this evident reality; they are engulfed in mass denial.

Of course the likes of Najib Razak and Rafidah Aziz would unhesitatingly and shamelessly grovel themselves up to Abdullah; after all they serve at his pleasure. Najib in particular does not want to disturb the current pattern, knowing full well that this would be Abdullah’s last term and that Najib will take over after that. If Abdullah were to fumble now, there is no assurance that he would not take the whole crowd –that would include Najib – with him....read more.



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