Pak Lah says PKR men in Perak may soon defect to Umno

By Debra Chong, The Malaysian Insider

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi today gave a strong indication that the Barisan Nasional may soon wrest back control of the Perak state government from the Pakatan Rakyat.

Abdullah responded in the affirmative when asked if there was any truth to the rumours that two PKR assemblymen in Perak would hop over to Umno soon.

"God willing, that may happen," he told reporters at the launch of the Federal Territories Day festival here this morning.

He added that it showed confidence, even among political rivals, that Umno is a party that fights for their ideals.

Abdullah refused to comment further when pressed to elaborate.

The outgoing Umno president said the leadership would make the announcements when things were confirmed.

The two coalitions are currently engaged in a tug-of-war over the loyalties of their members, which came to a head today, forcing the Perak state government leadership into an emergency meeting.

PKR Behrang assemblyman Jamaluddin Radzi and his Changkat Jering colleague Osman Jailu have been reported "missing" since the Umno Bota assemblyman Datuk Nasarudin Hashim publicly declared his intention to cross over to their party.

The PKR duo were at the centre of a bribery charge last year. Last August, Jamaludin and Osman, along with three others, were charged with 16 counts of corruption involving a RM180 million housing project spanning 36 hectares in Sri Iskandar, south of Ipoh.

Their trial is scheduled to begin on Feb 10. If convicted, they could face a maximum of 20 years in jail and a fine of not less than five times the amount of gratification, or RM10,000, whichever is higher.

According to rumours, they were offered to have the corruption charges against them dropped if they switched camps.

Abdullah was also asked to comment on the protest by Umno members against the investigation by the newly-minted Malaysian Anti-Coruption Commission (MACC) into allegations of money politics in the Malay-based party.

He clarified that the protest was not so much against the MACC's investigations into Umno as it against the methods allegedly employed by the anti-corruption team in extracting information.

An Umno member has complained of being tortured during the MACC questioning.

Abdullah said that the matter should be left to the police to investigate first before deciding on the next step.