KUALA LUMPUR, 3 Feb 2009: Former deputy defence minister Datuk Zainal Abidin Zin has refuted allegations that Datuk Seri Najib Razak offered an opposition grassroots leader RM50 million to entice Pakatan Rakyat representatives in Perak to party hop after the 8 March 2008 general election.
“I was there at the discussion and Najib (who is also Umno deputy president) did not discuss the matter. There were about 10 of us in the room when Fauzi met Najib. There was no such offer made. For me this one-year-old story is fictitious in nature to destroy the image of the deputy prime minister and Umno,” he told a press conference, here today.
Zainal Abidin was responding to a staturory declaration made by Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) Ipoh Barat division chief Fauzi Muda that Najib had offered him money to induce the opposition coalition representatives in Perak to crossover to Barisan Nasional on 11 March 2008.
Zainal Abidin said he met Fauzi through a mutual friend Suleiman Mansor on 11 March last year at the Jalan Duta toll plaza. He subsequently agreed to take him to meet Najib at about 10pm the same day as Fauzi wanted to talk to Najib about “some business and personal problems”.
“It was a coincidence that I was supposed to meet Datuk Najib that night. So I told him that he (Fauzi) could follow me to Najib’s official residence in Putrajaya. We met the deputy prime minister in a discussion room with about 10 other people. We spoke about nearly an hour and this topic was never brought up.
“I have never been involved in any crossover attempts and as far as I am concerned this offer never took place. I do not know this Fauzi as I have only met him once, which was when I took him to see Najib,” he added.
Yesterday, at a press conference, Fauzi claimed that Najib had tried last year to induce him to secure the crossover of two Pakatan Rakyat representatives in Perak.
He claimed that he was offered a total of RM50 million for his services and to pay off those he managed to convince, but that he had remained non-committal. Reading from a statutory declaration, Fauzi did not name any elected representatives said to be lured by the Barisan Nasional, in the document or during the press conference.
He also refused to distribute copies of the statutory declaration. While conceding that he had no concrete evidence to back his allegation, Fauzi nonetheless dared Najib to deny the claim.
Zainal Abidin said that after the meeting, neither Najib nor Fauzi spoke to him about the matter, which made him conclude that nothing serious had transpired between the two.
Asked if he was sure that such an offer was not made, he said: ” We were there for about an hour and and there was no such offer made.”
Asked if he had contacted Suleiman since the allegation was made, Zainal said: “I have not but what is the use, it was not Suleiman who made the allegation, it was Fauzi.”
However, he said while being driven out of the deputy prime minister’s house, Fauzi did not look happy “over something”.
Queried if he knew Fauzi was from PKR prior to the meeting, Zainal Abidin said he did not ask which political party Fauzi belonged to, as “I just wanted to help someone who was asking for assistance”.
“Although I did not hear clearly what Najib had told Fauzi, I can certainly say that they did not discuss about elected representatives crossing over. It could not have happened. If it did then I would have known about it immediately,” Zainal Abidin said.
Meanwhile in IPOH, two police reports were lodged today against two leaders of the Perak Pakatan Rakyat coalition for alleged slander.
In the first, Ipoh Barat Umno Youth chief Syamsul Baharin Putra Ahmad Shibi lodged a report at the Sungai Senam police station, claiming that Fauzi had defamed Najib in his statutory declaration.
“Fauzi’s statement gives the impression that a national leader is immoral and corrupt. This can cause tension among the people,” he told reporters after lodging the report.
Meanwhile, at the Ipoh police headquarters, PPP Youth chief Jason Chang lodged a police report to have senior Perak executive councillor Datuk Ngeh Koo Ham investigated for claiming that several BN assemblypersons in Perak and Negeri Sembilan would be crossing over to Pakatan Rakyat.
Speaking to reporters after making the report, Chang said Ngeh’s statements as published in the newspapers had caused instability in the two states and uneasiness among the people. — Bernama