Coup bid: ‘Five MPs were ready to defect’

By Joseph Tawie, FMT

KUCHING: A leader of a component party within the Sarawak Barisan Nasional (BN) today revealed that five MPs from Sarawak were prepared to defect to the opposition before or on Sept 16, 2008, in support of Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim’s plan to take over the federal government.

The leader, who requested anonymity, told FMT: “I was directed by an Umno leader to contact 10 MPs from PBB, SUPP, PRS and SPDP to defect to the opposition.

“Five of the MPs agreed to jump ship on condition that an Umno leader would be appointed as the interim prime minister to replace (premier) Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.”

The leader was responding to a WikiLeaks report which said that Anwar’s plan to take over Putrajaya, with the support of BN legislators, was real.

“Five more were interested, but they wanted to wait and see before making any decision,” the BN leader said, adding that there were several BN parliamentarians who had been unhappy with Abdullah.

“I had a number of meetings with the Umno leader, who told me that Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah would be appointed as the interim prime minister in the unity government for the next two or three years.

“Anwar would be appointed as deputy prime minister,” he said.

According to him, the Umno leader claimed that apart from Sarawak MPs, the plan had also received the support of MPs from Sabah and other states.

‘My job to explain our policies’

However, the plan failed to materialise as some Umno MPs who were considering defecting had leaked the plan to the then prime minister.

Two weeks or so before the Sept 16 deadline set by the opposition to form the new government, about 40 MPs, mostly from Sabah and Sarawak, were sent by the BN backbenchers club to Taiwan to “study” agriculture.

The move derailed Anwar’s plan.