Media Statement (2) by Lim Kit Siang in Petaling Jaya on Saturday, 6th September 2008: 

BN forced to seclude its MPs in 12-day “overseas retreat” as it is not sure of the allegiance of 30 to 40 per cent of its MPs come “916”

The Barisan Nasional leadership has been forced to come out with the idea to corral and seclude its Members of Parliament in a mysterious “overseas retreat” for 12 days from Sept. 7 – 19 as it is not sure of the allegiance of 30 to 40 per cent of its MPs come ”916”.

Some BN leaders are getting “cold feet” and more than a touch of panic.

While the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak, have been claiming that nothing would happen on September 16, with the former even invoking the name of the Yang di Pertuan Agong as if the King is taking political sides, there is undoubtedly growing nervousness and jitters among the various levels of Barisan Nasional leadership with every passing day.

In the past six months since the first political tsunami on March 8, there has been rising rather than the reduction of restiveness among the Barisan Nasional MPs, not confined to Sabah and Sarawak – and it is no exaggeration to say that for the first time in the nation’s history, the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition has lost the unquestioned allegiance of its MPs from the various component parties, including UMNO itself.

The second political tsunami of the Permatang Pauh by-election on August 26 has sealed and reinforced the restiveness of the BN MPs – especially as there are no signs of any light at the end of the tunnel to resolve the multiple crisis of confidence besetting the government and nation, whether political, economic, educational, institutional or nation-building.

This is why there is the sudden despatch of urgent SMS to all BN MPs two days ago in the name of the BN Backbenchers Club (BNBBC) of a compulsory “retreat overseas from Sept 7 to Sept 19” meant to be compulsory attendance for all BN MPs.

The fact that there is protest by BN MPs at the 12-day compulsory “overseas retreat” – whether Australia, China or Taiwan – like the earlier refusal of all Sabah BN MPs to sign a pledge of loyalty to the Prime Minister, is symptomatic of the gravity of the BN crisis of confidence. This is completely unthinkable just six months ago before the 12th general election!

All in all, it is a national shame that BN MPs should be treated like delinquent children who have to be packed off overseas and secluded from mischief – treating BN MPs as no better than chattel. Poor BN MPs!

* Lim Kit Siang,  DAP Parliamentary leader & MP for Ipoh Timor