Media Statement (2) by Lim Kit Siang in Petaling Jaya on Tuesday, 9th September 2008: 

The 916 obsession - 54 BN MPs have Anwar to thank for the last-minute free junket to Taiwan

The last-minute free junket to Taiwan for 54 MPs is shaping up to be the greatest political farce in the nation's 51-year history all because of the "916 obsession" of the Umno/Barisan Nasional leadership.

UMNO/Barisan Nasional leaders have put up a bold public front dismissing the possibility of any change of government come Sept. 16, dismissing the "916" speculation as political gimmick and "day-dream", although in their heart of hearts, it has become a "living nightmare" to the Umno/BN leadership.

This is because Umno/BN leadership are acutely and painfully aware that six months after the March 8 general election, more and more BN MPs are convinced that the Prime Minister and the Barisan Nasional leadership have completely lost their way as illustrated by the latest Ahmad Said furore and have neither the vision nor political will to relate and become relevant to the revolution of new hopes and expectations of post-political tsunami Malaysia.

As compared to six months ago, there are even fewer BN MPs who are prepared to defend the policies and programmes of the Prime Minister and the BN leadership, as they have lost all hope and confidence in the their ability to manage a major turnaround of political support of the people.

Although they are still BN MPs in name, they have lost allegiance to BN.

This is the real reason why there is a quiet desperation and panic about the "916" speculation among the top Umno/BN leadership and the reason for the last-minute decision to organise a junket dragooning BN MPs to Taiwan to foil Anwar's "916" plan.

That the credibility gap of BN leaders has plumbed new depths can be gauged from the fact that nobody believes a single thing which BN leaders, whether the Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister, the Chairman or Deputy Chairman of the Barisan Nasional Backbenchers Club (BBC) is saying about the last-minute junket for the 54 BN MPs when they are treated like modern-day bond-slaves, losing all personal liberty and freedom until Sept. 16 is "safely" over and past!

For instance, the BBC Deputy Chairman Datuk Bung Mohtar Radin (Kinabatangan) told the Star today that the "overseas study trip" was planned three months ago but Taiwan was chosen two days ago "as Taiwan confirmed it was able to conduct our study tour".

The BBC Chairman Datuk Seri Tiong King Sing had a different story, as he had said that "Initially, we wanted to go to China but as we did not have enough time to process our visas, we decided on Taiwan instead."

Clearly, what Tiong, Radin and even Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and Datuk Seri Najib Razak have said about the last-minute BN MPs junket to Taiwan are just "lies, lies and lies" not to be believed at all.

The simple truth is that the 54 BN MPs have Anwar to thank for the last-minute free junket to Taiwan all because of the "916" obsession and fear of the Umno/BN leaders.

I understand that the UMNO and BN leadership only have confidence in the allegiance of some 60 per cent of the 76 BN backbenchers which leaves the possible action of the rest of the 40 per cent or over 30 BN MPs to anybody's guess.

Lately, with talk of individual BN MPs leaving BN expanding to entire component parties like Gerakan and even MCA leaving the coalition because of recrudescence of cronyism, corruption, extremism and racism, the uncertainty and instability of Barisan Nasional's hold on federal power will become even more acute after "916" and the return of the BN junketeers from Taiwan.

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