Saturday, September 13, 2008

Did they or did they not meet?

Did they or did they not meet?
14 Sept, 2008

(NST) KUALA LUMPUR: The Barisan Nasional Backbenchers Club's (BBC) agriculture study tour in Taiwan ended on Friday with one question unanswered: did they meet the Parti Keadilan Rakyat delegation?

The backbenchers and the four-member PKR delegation that followed them purportedly to meet with BN MPs interested in switching sides, both gave differing accounts of the trip.

PKR information chief Tian Chua claimed they had a successful meeting with the BBC members before they were "swiftly" whisked away to Hong Kong yesterday afternoon.

BBC chairman Datuk Seri Tiong King Sing, on the other hand, said the group had dispersed into smaller groups, with the last group leaving yesterday morning, four days earlier than scheduled.

When contacted in Taiwan yesterday, Tian Chua said their trip to the island was successful.

"Mission accomplished. We were able to communicate with them (BN backbenchers) before they left Taipei."

Tian Chua claimed the backbenchers were bundled out of their hotel in 50 taxis bound for the airport at 3.30pm.

"We managed to speak to a few of them at the hotel between 1pm and 3pm. We spoke to those who have confirmed they are switching sides."

When asked how many and whom, Tian Chua declined to say.

However, Tiong, who organised the trip with the BBC deputy chairman, gave a different version.

Tiong said many of the 52 backbenchers had returned home earlier.

"Our flights today (yesterday) were cancelled because of Typhoon Sinlaku, so we left the hotel early in the morning to try to get earlier flights.

"Plus, some members left earlier because they were concerned about the typhoon. A few of them went to Hong Kong and I am in China on a personal errand.

"I think about 80 per cent of the group have gone back to their constituencies."

On Tian Chua's claim that the four-member PKR delegation had met with the backbenchers, Tiong said it was unlikely.

Two backbenchers who arrived at KLIA shrugged off Tian Chua's claims saying that no contact was made.

Sri Gading MP Datuk Mohamad Aziz said there was no time in their packed itinerary to see any of the PKR leaders.

"We all just talked about agriculture. We didn't talk about politics at all. We didn't see any of (the PKR leaders)."

Hulu Rajang MP Billy Abit Joo said the group split up in Taiwan, some returning home while a few opted to stop over in Hong Kong.

"We are not running away from the PKR people. We are just running away from the weather," he said.

The PKR delegation is expected to return today.

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