Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Malaysia Probes DAP Claims of $20 Million Bribes to Cross Over

Malaysia Probes DAP Claims of $20 Million Bribes to Cross Over
By Manirajan Ramasamy and Angus Whitley

April 9 (Bloomberg) -- Malaysia is investigating claims that opposition Democratic Action Party lawmakers were offered at least 65 million ringgit ($20 million) each to join the ruling coalition, which last month had its worst election result.

Police started a probe in the northwestern state of Perak, where the allegations were made, Malaysia's Inspector General of Police Musa Hassan said by phone today. Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi has no comment, said press secretary Teoh Ai Hua.

Abdullah, facing a leadership challenge within his own ruling party, lost his two thirds parliamentary majority and five of Malaysia's 13 states in the March 8 elections. Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, who promises to fight corruption and racial preference rules, claims he can woo the 30 coalition crossovers he needs to form a government.

``There are definitely efforts on both sides to win people over,'' said Tricia Yeoh, director of the Centre for Public Policy Studies, an independent research institute in Kuala Lumpur. ``We need to validate the claims, but it shows there seems to be a political free-for-all. It's an open market.''
In Perak state, won by Anwar's People's Alliance of parties, offers to cross to the National Front coalition have climbed as high as 80 million ringgit, said A. Sivasubramaniam, a DAP lawmaker in Perak.

Sivasubramaniam said today he'll file a police report after receiving phone calls and mobile-phone text messages offering him between 10 million ringgit and 80 million ringgit to defect.

`Ridiculous Sum?'

National Front Secretary-General Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor denied the claims, according to the New Straits Times, which reported them earlier today. ``There is no such thing. Even the sum is ridiculous,'' he told the newspaper.

Malaysia's opposition last month rejected allegations it's also attempting to buy lawmakers as it tries to wrest control of parliament from the coalition. Abdullah told CNBC in an interview on March 15 that lawmakers shouldn't be bought.

V. Sivakumar, another DAP Perak lawmaker, said he will meet an officer from Malaysia's Anti-Corruption Agency today after being offered a bribe of as much as 65 million ringgit.
``Initially I thought my friends were trying to pull a fast one and check my integrity by offering 7 million ringgit,'' Sivakumar said by phone today. ``Then when the calls became more frequent, the offer kept going up to 10 million ringgit.''

One person claiming to be from the ruling National Front made what he called a final offer of 65 million ringgit, Sivakumar said. The bribe included an overseas trip for the state legislator and his family, guards at home and a personal minder, he said.

Narrow Majority
The opposition alliance achieved unprecedented election gains on March 8 after vowing to dismantle Malaysia's legalized system of preferences for the Malay majority over ethnic Indians and Chinese. Abdullah's coalition plans to keep the race-based program that aims to redistribute wealth in the Southeast Asian economy.

Opposition parties won 31 of 59 state assembly seats in Perak. The National Front coalition, known in Malaysia as Barisan Nasional, won 28 seats.

In Parliament, Malaysia's opposition is 30 seats short of a majority that would hand it control of Southeast Asia's third- largest economy. The government is considering a law to make switching political allegiance illegal, the New Straits Times reported on March 24.

The opposition People's Alliance groups Anwar's People's Justice Party, the DAP and the Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party, known as PAS.

Demands for Abdullah to quit have intensified since the election. Malaysian prince Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah on April 3 mounted the first public challenge for the leadership of Abdullah's party, the largest in the coalition.

To contact the reporters on this story:
Manirajan Ramasamy in Kuala Lumpur at rmanirajan@bloomberg.net;
Angus Whitley in Kuala Lumpur at awhitley1@bloomberg.net
Last Updated: April 9, 2008 03:05 EDT

http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601080&sid=aDeI8CpmPI80&refer=asia

seals: How rich a party can be? So rich to offer this much? Where the money came from?

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