Seven Umno MPs have refuted Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad's account of a dinner meet hosted by Economic Affairs Minister Azmin Ali on Nov 18.
In a joint statement today, the seven MPs contradicted Mahathir's claim that the dinner participants from Umno had "lost" their party and were unsure of what to do politically, and that they were considering joining other parties.
"At no point did any of the BN MPs stated so during the meeting," said the seven MPS.
They are Kuala Krau MP Ismail Mohamad Said, Jempol MP Salim Sharif, Jempol MP Salim Sharif, Jelebu MP Jalaluddin Alias, Cameron Highlands MP Ramli Mohd Nor, Pengerang MP Azalina Othman Said, Lipis MP Abdul Rahman Mohamad and Kuala Kangsar MP Mastura Mohd Yazid.
They said discussions during the dinner meet with Azmin (photo) revolved on government funding for small projects at their respective constituencies only.
"In view of BN's big win in Tanjung Piai, we invited Azmin to join Umno because it is clear that now the rakyat prefers Umno and BN," the group said.
"As has been said many times before, we will never leave Umno, let alone defect."
Earlier today, Mahathir, when asked about the Nov 18 dinner, said he had heard from Azmin that some of the Umno MPs in attendance were contemplating defection.
Mahathir claimed some of those Umno MPs also expressed their support to him.
While Azmin himself had been coy about the purpose of the meeting, other participants have provided different accounts of what happened.
Some claimed it had to do with projects while others claimed it was over the economy and the government's shared prosperity vision.
Meanwhile, Umno secretary-general Annuar Musa, who is also Ketereh MP, said there were 16 MPs at the meeting with Azmin, and the MPs were all loyal to Umno.
"Some of them did inform me of the meeting prior to it taking place. Azmin organised the meeting to membodek (brown nose) the prime minister in an attempt to save himself," said Annuar.