KUALA LUMPUR - Three opposition lawmakers from the Democratic Action Party (DAP) on Saturday (Aug 7) alleged that they had been offered cash and seats in the Cabinet in exchange for backing beleaguered Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin, whose majority in Parliament is in doubt ahead of a confidence vote next month.
All three provided screengrabs of WhatsApp messages from the same anonymous number which referred to "durian RM30" and the need for "more non-Malay representation in the government".
The DAP draws most of its members and support from outside the country's Malay-Muslim majority. No one clarified on the symbolism of "durian RM30" but the message to all three MPs referred explicitly to an offer to pay cash.
Among the recipients was former human resources minister Kulasegaran Murugeson, who lodged a police report in Ipoh, the capital of Perak state, over the "pathetic and desperate" attempt "to buy me over".
"We told them to take the offer and shove it. After the Perikatan Nasional (PN) government took power via the back door all the 42 elected DAP MPs stayed loyal to the party," he said, referring to the political crisis early last year that eventually led to Tan Sri Muhyiddin, the Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia president, taking over as prime minister from his own party chairman, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
"Rain or shine we will stay put in DAP and our MPs are not for sale, I must make that clear. Money and position are not factors which can sway us to leave the party. We will swim or die with the party," said Mr Kulasegaran, who is the DAP vice-chairman.
Perak police chief Mior Faridalatrash Wahid told The Straits Times the case has been referred to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission.
Another DAP lawmaker, Mr Khoo Poay Tiong, also mocked the WhatsApp message, posting on Facebook that "whoever is interested in becoming a minister can contact this number". He added: "Kota Melaka is not for sale," referring to his parliamentary ward.
Kuching MP Kelvin Yii posted a screengrab in which the sender also told him to "step out of the shadow from Lim's family", a reference to DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng and his father, Mr Lim Kit Siang, 80, who is still widely regarded as the most influential leader in the party.
Parti Keadilan Rakyat secretary-general Saifuddin Nasution Ismail also claimed that five of the party's MPs received similarly-worded offers from the same anonymous sender.
Opponents of Mr Muhyiddin have accused him of lying to the King after the Premier, in a nationwide address on Wednesday, said that he informed the monarch during an audience earlier in the day that he still had the majority in Parliament.
This was despite the fact that 11 Umno MPs had withdrawn support from the PN government on Tuesday. Umno was the largest party in the ruling PN pact with 38 MPs.
Leaders across the 105-strong opposition bench - joined by the Umno rebels - insist Mr Muhyiddin can at most now count on the support of only 104 out of the 220 members of the federal Parliament. Two seats in Parliament are currently vacant.
The Prime Minister has pledged to prove his majority in a confidence vote when Parliament reconvenes on Sept 6, but opponents say his assertion to Sultan Abdullah Ahmad Shah must be tested now.
Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim's Pakatan Harapan coalition has set a Monday deadline for the Prime Minister to do so.
Two Umno ministers have quit the Cabinet, and their vacant offices were referenced in the alleged offers to the DAP MPs to "replace Parit Sulong or Lenggong durians". The two ministers who quit were from the Parit Sulong and Lenggong constituencies.