KUALA LUMPUR, 8 Sept 2008: Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) deputy president Dr Syed Husin Ali today reiterated that the mass crossover of Members of Parliament (MPs) to the Pakatan Rakyat was still on track, but that it would take place a few days after 16 Sept.
Disclosing details of a three-hour morning meeting with the Pakatan Rakyat coalition leaders, Syed Husin said the plan would go ahead but with some changes in the date.
“What I can tell you is that we are on track, but there’s a slight alteration in date. Forty nine MPs have been carted away to Taiwan. So we have to wait for them to get back before proceeding,” he said.
Forty one Barisan Nasional MPs left for Taiwan this morning on a hurriedly-organised study trip by the BN Backbenchers Club, and eight more are scheduled to leave tomorrow.
Syed Husin was fielding questions after giving a speech at the launch of the website for the Centre for Policy Initiatives (CPI) at the Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall.
Also at the launch was CPI director Dr Lim Teck Gee and former Penang executive councillor Datuk Dr Toh Kin Woon.
Syed Husin also claimed that some of the BN MPs were coerced into going on the study trip, but stressed that it did not affect Opposition Leader and Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) advisor Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s oft-repeated threat to bring down the government by getting BN MPs to defect.
“I can say this authoritatively – we have the numbers [of MPs willing to crossover to Pakatan Rakyat to form the new federal government],” he said to applause from the audience.
“The only problem is that some in the number are in Taiwan, and we do not know what will happen there. So we are waiting for them to come back on 17 Sept. Once that happens we will present the whole lot of them to the media.
“But that will not happen on 16 Sept because some accommodation must be made for these new developments. Maybe 16 Sept plus one, two, three days …. But it can’t go on for long,” he added.
BN currently has 140 MPs as opposed to the Pakatan Rakyat’s 82.
Pakatan Rakyat, led by Anwar, is an opposition pact made up of PKR, DAP and PAS. For a change in government to happen, Anwar needs to recruit a minimum of 30 BN MPs for a simple majority.
Up to 40 defections
But Syed Husin, who dismissed suggestions that PKR was crying wolf over the defections, said the number of legislators willing to move was closer to 40.
“And these are not verbal promises, but written undertakings. Some of the MPs are even willing to sign Statutory Declarations to this effect, especially since they had already signed a loyalty pledge to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi last month,” he said.
On what measures the present government might take in the event the crossover becomes a reality, Syed Husin was circumspect, saying it is unlikely for Abdullah to hand over power quietly and leave.
“Those in power have so much to lose. I have never seen any government in the Third World who have just given up and moved on quietly after losing power. And I expect Abdullah to fight to stay in power. So we have to prepare for the worst case scenario,” he said.
The “worst case scenario” he asserted, may include the government stirring up unrest, declaring a state of emergency and then carrying out mass arrests.
However, he pointed out the situation now was very different from 1969; people were more conscious of what was happening and were better informed.
Hence, he said, it was unlikely that such government action would go unchallenged now.