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KUALA LUMPUR: A “study trip” to Taiwan by Barisan Nasional (BN)Members of Parliament (MPs) in 2008 was to prevent Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim from enticing them to form a new federal government on Sept 16 that year, the High Court was told yesterday.

Deputy Speaker Datuk Seri Ronald Kiandee, one of those on the trip from Sept 7 to 9, 2008, confirmed this when testifying as a defence witness in the PKR de facto chief’s defamation suit against Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman.

Questioned by Anwar’s lawyer Ranjit Singh on whether the trip was to circumvent Anwar’s attempt to induce the MPs to join the opposition, Kiandee replied in the affirmative.

“Wasn’t this trip organised to ensure all Barisan MPs were all taken to Taiwan, chaperoned, to prevent further encroachment by Datuk Seri Anwar? Isn’t that correct, in reality?” Ranjit asked.

“Yes,” replied Kiandee.

The BN MP agreed with Ranjit’s statement that the trip had been organised so that “all of the MPs could be in a particular area to prevent Sept 16 from happening”.

However, in 2008, Datuk Seri Najib Razak, who was then the deputy prime minister, as well as then prime minister Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, denied the controversial trip was linked to Anwar’s Sept 16 plan.

“There is no link. You are trying to make the link,” Najib told a press conference on Sept 9 when pressed by a reporter in a video uploaded by Malaysiakini.

The trip was funded by the Backbenchers Club, and its then chairman Datuk Seri Tiong King Sing had said it was to educate the MPs on the agriculture industry.

In his witness statement, Kiandee said the trip was “a full-time study tour” and that they “visited agricultural farms, fisheries farms, etc”.

He claimed that he had received a RM5 million offer to cross over to PKR over the phone by a caller who identified himself as a PKR member.

Questioned by Ranjit, Kiandee agreed that the caller could have been “anyone”, and that the Special Branch officer whom he informed about the call did not get back to him on the issue.

Kiandee told the court he did not lodge a police report on the phone call, as he had already informed the Special Branch of the matter.

Neither did he lodge a police report after Anifah informed him that he had been offered RM100 million by an associate of Anwar to cross over to Pakatan Rakyat, he said.

Kiandee said he did not take any action because he believed it was Anifah’s responsibility to lodge the police report.

Anwar filed the suit against Anifah in May 2009, for allegedly uttering defamatory words about him during a joint news conference in Washington with former US secretary of state, Hillary Clinton.

Anifah told reporters then that Anwar had offered him the post of deputy prime minister if he brought MPs from Sabah to topple the BN government which had won 140 seats in the 2008 general election.

In his statement of claim, Anwar said Anifah’s claims were baseless, unfounded and grossly negligent, and had been widely reported in the local and foreign media.

The hearing before judicial commissioner Siti Khadijah S Hassan Badjenid continues. — The Malaysian Insider

This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on December 16, 2014.

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