Corrected at 9pm, 19 Feb 2009; Updated at 4.20pm, 20 Feb 2009
KUALA LUMPUR, 19 Feb 2009: Death threats, bullets in the mail and a sting operation in collaboration with the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC). These were among the “evidence” cited by Pakatan Rakyat (PR) de facto leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim in his accusation that the Barisan Nasional (BN) has been “bribing and threatening” PR assemblypersons.
He said V Arumugam, who resigned as Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) Bukit Selambau assemblyperson and Kedah executive councillor (exco) on 8 Feb, had, among other things, received a phone call warning him to “not be so active in politics”, lest his fate mirrored that of the late Lunas assemblyperson Joe Fernandez, who was shot dead in 2000.
This was in one of Arumugam’s three police reports, Anwar said in his Opposition Leader’s speech in the Dewan Rakyat today.
Anwar also said Arumugam’s colleague, PKR (corrected) Bakar Arang assemblyperson and Kedah exco Tan Wei Shu, had received three bullets in an envelope, after he refused to cooperate with BN “agents”. He said Tan also lodged a police report and showed the Dewan Rakyat a photo of the bullets.
Anwar also revealed that the MACC conducted an investigation with the co-operation of PKR Kulim assemblyperson Lim Soo Nee, who had acted as ”bait”.
Following permission from PR leaders, Lim cooperated with MACC officials, who recorded the PKR politician’s meetings with BN “agents”, Anwar said.
He said the investigation culminated in a meeting between Lim and Kedah BN chairperson and former menteri besar Datuk Seri Mahazir Khalid in a hotel in Seberang Jaya, at the end of 2008.
“This meeting was recorded via CCTV that was arranged with the MACC’s knowledge,” he said, adding at the press conference later that it was also recorded in audio.
He clarified that he had not personally seen the footage, but maintained that the investigation results were “ample, incontrovertible evidence to prosecute”.
At a press conference later, Anwar said it has been more than three months since the sting operation but there has been no action by the MACC. “They (MACC) have had enough time,” he said.
“No further action was taken, and I was informed instead that the MACC officer in charge of the operation was then removed from Kedah,” he said.
He said these cases revealed a concerted effort by the BN to get PR elected representatives to cross over or resign.
He called on the authorities to produce the results of their investigation. “We have given enough evidence. We want to see whether there is action,” he said, adding that he was convinced there was enough evidence to proffer a charge.
Asked by reporters why efforts by the BN to woo opposition politicians had intensified recently, Anwar blamed it on Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak. He said Najib, set to take over the leadership of Umno and the federal government in March 2009, was trying to show his party that he was a strong leader.
“I hope with this exposure, they will be a bit more scared [to continue],” he added.
Anwar admitted there were weaknesses in the opposition coalition that made it vulnerable to the BN’s current offensive.
“We have to be mindful with PR leaders to ensure higher ethical standards before they are elected,” he said.
Asked why the PR had waited so long to reveal information on the MACC investigation, Anwar said they were making sure “all the evidence [was] in place”.
He refused to answer questions on whether the PR had more details of the investigation that he planned to disclose later.
The PR coalition, which succeeded in forming the state government in Kedah, Kelantan, Penang, Perak and Selangor after the 2008 general election, has been besieged by a series of problems in recent months.
The BN managed to wrest back Perak after Changkat Jering assemblyperson Capt (R) Mohd Osman Mohd Jailu and Behrang assemblyperson Jamaluddin Mohd Radzi left PKR, and Jelapang assemblyperson Hee Yit Foong left the DAP, to become BN-friendly independents in the state assembly on 4 Feb.
Then Arumugam sent his resignation letter to the Kedah menteri besar on 8 Feb, saying he could no longer stand the threats he had been receiving.
Less than a week later, PKR assemblyperson for Bukit Lanjan, Elizabeth Wong, found out that some people were trying to distribute intimate photos or videos of her without her consent.
Wong said this was an invasion of her privacy, but has also offered to resign as assemblyperson and Selangor exco, in the interest of the party.
The police are still investigating the case.