Thursday, March 20, 2008

Umno to gather intelligence on defection attempts

PUTRAJAYA: Umno will send out its members to gather intelligence on the Opposition's claims that some Barisan Nasional representatives are "crossing over".

The party's new secretary-general Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor however warned the Opposition not to be "stupid enough" to instigate defections from Barisan.

"We have heard talk but we don't know for sure whether there are such attempts. As the newly appointed Umno secretary-general, I will send out our intelligence people to go to the ground and find out whether there is any truth to such claims.

"Our MPs and assemblymen know that BN and Umno are the only coalition and party for them," he told reporters after participating in the Maulidur Rasul (Prophet's birthday) celebrations at the Putra Mosque here Thursday.

Tengku Adnan was commenting on reports quoting Parti Keadilan Rakyat de facto leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim as saying that the party welcomed any Barisan assemblyman or MP wishing to cross over.

Anwar had also said that he had met several Barisan leaders during his visit to Sabah and Sarawak.

Tengku Adnan said if there were such attempts by the Opposition, then it only meant that they were trying to advantage of the apparently "gloomy outlook" for the coalition.

"But it is not a gloomy outlook for us. Our calculations show that Barisan still managed to garner some 51.2% of the votes.

"That means both Barisan and Umno are still relevant," he said.

Tengku Adnan said Barisan would focus on recapturing the five states - Kedah Penang, Perak, Selangor and Kelantan - as well as the seats in the Federal Territory that were lost to the Opposition in the recent general election.

"Maybe our component partners have been weak in these states or that there was infighting within the Umno divisions.

"We will conduct an in-depth analysis of all these places," he said, adding that the coalition has to come up with different approaches to reclaim the states lost.

"We have to start working immediately," he said.

On the spate of resignations by Umno leaders, particularly that of former Selangor Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Dr Mohamad Khir Toyo as Selangor Umno and BN chairman, Tengku Adnan said they should realise that the party's interests should come above all and that they should instead work harder.

Asked if a lack of a Cabinet post would hinder his job as secretary-general, as hinted by his predecessor Datuk Seri Mohd Radzi Sheikh Ahmad, Tengku Adnan said he would leave it to the Prime Minister to decide on the matter.

- the star online