(The built-up to the debate between 2 political parties that represented the Chinese community with elections just around the corner somehow fizzled out when the debate actually started and it deteriorated further on there onwards. Image source: The Week)
Generally, the whole much-hyped debate between 2 giants, to put delicately – sucked!
For start, both debaters did not stick to the agreed topic (which was fine but the wish to have something else inspiring and intelligent was absent as well), plenty of hitting below the belt especially from the MCA side and the audience (most seemed planted) was rather rude and seemed uncivilized when it comes to questioning and abiding by the debate rules (the translation to Bahasa at Astro Awani did not help much to inject some sense of professionalism into the debate).
Further, it was reported that it is MCA who insisted on the debate in Mandarin and the topic to be confined to the Chinese community instead of Malaysian as a whole in the first place:-
It is wrong for Chua to change the topic on the merits and demerits of a 2-party system or whether it is becoming a 2-race system to one of “Malaysian Chinese-Quo Vadis?”
The organisers had agreed that Chua will I be debating in Mandarin at Berjaya Times Square Hotel in Kuala Lumpur on 5-6pm 18 February 2012 carried live by Astro AEC television station.
I wish to stress that I am willing to debate in English or Bahasa Malaysia at another slot similar to my debate in 1991 with Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat where two debates were held, one in Mandarin and the other in English. I have appointed my Political Secretary and Komtar ADUN YB Ng Weik Aik to finalise debate arrangements and details with MCA as well as DAPSY National Chair Rasah MP YB Anthony Loke to handle the logistics of the debate.
The debate with Chua Soi Lek is on the topic “Is the 2-Party System Becoming a 2-Race System” should see a contest of ideas, ideals and policies that benefits democracy and also all Malaysians not just Chinese alone
And yet some BN-pro blogs and politicians did not waste time painting Lim Guan Eng as a Malaysian who do not know how to debate in Bahasa or English and furthermore, because the topics are confined to the Chinese community, they also argued that DAP is now “proven” to just another Chinese chauvinists party. Surprisingly they were quite silent on MCA – who determined the debate language and topic in the first place and is made up of members from a single race (as compared to DAP).
And the crowd was indeed rude – with plenty of MCA supporters at the front waving their rudimentary MCA support placards (I saw the same when I watched WWE’s Smackdown couple years ago), they were a comedy themselves.
Out of the many, one that stood out was this very rude lady – you want to ask a question, you ask nicely lah but instead, you choose to shout and nag at the speaker on trivial matters (towing away of vehicles after 10.30 pm – come on lah, is this best question you can think of for a national, telecasted live debate?):-
Watching the debate on ASTRO, I long suspected those who been asking the question rather angrily at Lim Guan Eng are no other than MCA hardcore members, probably planted to ask stupid and personal questions in a desperate act to paint Lim Guan Eng in the worse possible character and I was not that wrong – the lady in the video above is an MCA Coordinator for Selayang Parliamentary seat. Perhaps, as someone commented in Youtube, she did for political mileage – elections coming mah.
Some seemed to be more of allegations rather than an intelligent question and this prompted Lim Guan Eng to response this:-
There should be no repeat of the Mandarin debate which was jointly organised by MCA, where MCA was able to stack 12 out of the 13 questions asked from MCA members, directing their vitriolic attacks against me.
How can I answer 12 out of 13 questions in 3 minutes especially when most of them were lies? For this reason I chose not to answer these lies as the debate should be about truth and the policies that PR wants to implement to change Malaysia
Anil Netto further commented on the rude lady:-
Unfortunate because of the many other bigger issues she could have raised and because of the way it was raised. And unfortunately for her and her MCA, she probably did more damage to her party’s cause than whatever Guan Eng said.
Clearly, the lack of a culture of ‘live’ political debates has resulted in some people being unfamiliar with the basic etiquette involved in raising questions from the floor. But haranguing speakers should not be allowed, and questions raised should be relevant to the topic.
In this case, the topic was vague and weird (purposely to keep Malaysians divided or to suit the race-based agenda?), to begin with. And that made it all the more difficult to decide what was relevant and what wasn’t.
And how is it those asking questions were mainly from one side?
If you want to see a good debate in recent time between the BN and PR, go no further than the recent debate between UMNO Youth Chief, YB Khairy Jamaluddin, and PKR Director of Strategies, Rafizi Ramli on the topic “Public Policy: Vision 2020 — Is Malaysia Moving Towards the Right Direction?”
It was downright factual, well mannered and engaging and in the end, despite that PR scored more points with their well-prepared arguments and facts, I find myself rooting for Khairy as well.
And the best part is at the end where both speakers speak well of their fellow speaker (Khairy even joked that he loved Rafizi’s PKR themed sweater and Rafizi, in turn, had earlier praised Khairy for refreshed thinking and invited Khairy to join Pakatan by saying that Khairy looks like “us”, the age like “us” and sounds like “us”) and urge the young, educated audience to go back and make their decision in the electoral regardless of which side they are rooting for. And that’s how a debate should be conducted and done.
Lim Guan Eng has requested for another debate with CSL – this time in English or Bahasa Malaysia and on a wider scope than just on Chinese community but hopefully the next debate is done in a better-civilized way and the debate is kept to the topic in question and with proper and relevant, open-minded and fair questions from the floor.
The circus that we saw in the first debate is not we want to see in the next one.