SAPP alleges threats after no-confidence push
KUALA LUMPUR (AFP) - A member party of Malaysia's ruling coalition, which has campaigned for a no-confidence vote against the prime minister, said yesterday its lawmakers had been threatened and bullied.
The Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP) dropped a bombshell last week when it called for the vote against Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, in a move analysts said could unleash defections to the opposition.
Its two lawmakers were absent from Parliament when it resumed yesterday. The party said they had been recalled to Kota Kinabalu in Sabah state on Borneo Island to discuss their safety and that of their families and offices.
"Events in the last 24 hours have taken a disturbing turn. Among others, we have received reports of intimidating and bullying tactics," the president of the Chinese-based party Yong Teck Lee said in a statement.
He said there had been text messages and phone calls "implying threats" to the two members of parliament (MP) and their aides, and that at a gathering of the ruling party United Malay National Organisation "aggressive words touching on racial incitement were used".
"In view of this disturbing turn of events, SAPP has taken extra caution for the safety of the MPs by calling them back to the party headquarters in Kota Kinabalu for consultations on the next course of action," he said.
The Pakatan Rakyat opposition alliance has said it is reluctant to mount a no-confidence vote, but would use a parliamentary debate yesterday on an unpopular fuel price hike as a test of confidence in the embattled government.
"The Pakatan Rakyat are trying to highlight the problems with the Government policies, and our opposition to today's motion shows the people's lack of confidence in Abdullah," said Azmin Ali, vice-president of the Keadilan party, which heads the alliance.
"This is something which we can use to send a message to the Government. The present leadership, especially the prime minister and the entire Cabinet, are incompetent to manage the economy and the future of Abdullah to lead this country is untenable," he told AFP.
Abdullah has been fighting for his political survival since March elections that saw the Opposition make unprecedented gains, netting a third of parliamentary seats and control of five states.
A 41 per cent petrol price hike imposed earlier this month, which has triggered widespread outrage and public protests, has made Abdullah's position even more tenuous.