05 September, 2008

PM vows to thwart opposition takeover plan

Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim's bid to seize power will fail, Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said Friday, promising to thwart any attempts to topple his government.

Abdullah said Anwar's three-member Pakatan Rakyat opposition alliance was banking on members of the ruling party defecting but insisted that would not happen, according to the state Bernama news agency.

"We will not give them the opportunity to set up government on September 16," Abdullah said.

Pakatan Rakyat gained unprecedented ground against the Barisan Nasional coalition in the March general election, securing a third of parliamentary seats and five states.

To seize power, Anwar needs 30 defectors.

Meanwhile, Barisan Nasional backbenchers have been told to attend an overseas retreat, believed to be in Australia, in what is being seen as an attempt to head off their potential defection to Pakatan Rakyat.

All BN lawmakers were told through a text message sent out yesterday that attendance for the trip is compulsory.

But the response so far has been lukewarm.

The text message from the BN Backbenchers Club (BNBBC) reads: "BNBBC has received approval to hold a retreat overseas from Sept 7 to Sept 19. The attendance of all MPs is compulsory."

The Star reported :

Barisan Nasional MPs have been asked to submit their passports for an overseas study trip ahead of Sept 16, the date that is being bandied about for supposed defections to take place.

Backbenchers Club chairman Datuk Seri Tiong King Sing said the trip was the brainchild of the club but rejected suggestions that it was organised because of the Sept 16 claim.

“The trip came about after a few of our members got talking. We wanted MPs to update themselves with the latest information about agriculture and high-tech food production so that we can debate better on the Budget when Parliament sits again in October.

“This is the best time for the trip although it is the fasting month because after that, Hari Raya celebrations begin and Parliament will meet again,” he told The Star here yesterday.

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