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Sunday March 23, 2008

I’m not crossing over, says Serian MP


PUTRAJAYA: Serian MP Datuk Richard Riot Jaem is not crossing over to the Opposition. In fact, he has not even been approached. The talk in the last few days that he was crossing over was “speculative reporting,” he told a press conference here yesterday.

He said he had flown back from a holiday to call for the press conference although he appeared secretive when asked where he had been the past few days.

“I want to stress here that I am a Barisan man and I was voted in as a Barisan candidate. I will stay put and remain loyal to the coalition under the leadership of Prime Minister Pak Lah (Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi) at the federal level and under the Sarawak state leadership.

Still in the fold: Barisan and Umno secretary-general Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor (left) with Riot at the press conference in Putrajaya Saturday.

“It has never crossed my mind to leave the coalition and join the Opposition. I have never been approached by anyone to leave the coalition, let alone (PKR adviser Datuk Seri) Anwar Ibrahim.”

“As far as Richard Riot Jaem is concerned, he (Anwar) is telling lies about me,” he told reporters after meeting with Barisan and Umno secretary-general Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor.

Talk has been rife that the long-serving Serian Sarawak United People’s Party (SUPP) branch chairman had quit the party after he was not appointed to the federal administration, with his supporters – mostly Bidayuhs – said to be upset.

Riot retained the Serian seat for the fifth term with a 13,427-vote majority in the general election.

Asked if he knew anyone among his peers in Sarawak who had been approached or were thinking of leaving Barisan, Riot replied:

“I am not aware of anyone but I don’t think that as an MP from Sarawak, where BN has a stronghold, any of them will be foolish enough to leave. As a BN man, I am not cheap because no money can buy a career.

“BN MPs and in particular Richard Riot is not cheap,” he stressed, adding that he was shocked to find himself the “star” of such rumours, which he believed originated from an Internet report.

Riot said he had left for a long-deserved holiday after the elections. Arrangements for the holiday had been made even before the announcement of the Cabinet line-up, he said.

“But I knew before the announcement that I wouldn’t be in it,” he said, denying that he had been in Melbourne as alleged by another report as he “would not be able to afford such a holiday.”

He also denied reports that he had been disappointed at being excluded as the Prime Minister had the prerogative in the matter.

“However, the PM has said many times that no community will be left out and with the Bidayuh community being the third largest ethnic group in Sarawak, I have faith that he won’t forget about us.

“I think that in the near future, he will accommodate us,” he said.

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