Published in The Sun  on 5 April 2013

A MILESTONE will be achieved in Malaysian politics, in particular the election procedures, if the leaders of Barisan National and Pakatan Rakyat face each other in a public debate transmitted simultaneously on radio and TV, in the last few days before the general election.

To consolidate the two-week campaigning period allowed by the Election Commission and the past year of road shows by their parties, the two leaders must agree to a face-off to bring into focus not only the main thrust in their party manifesto, but more importantly the brand of national leadership that each is offering.

The rakyat’s assessment of the candidates will be more acute when each is juxtaposed against the other in shared physical space and time to articulate their national vision for the next five years.

The people have no doubt seen and heard Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak and Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim at numerous public forums in their various capacities, in small group interactions as well as in their engagements with larger groups. Lasting impressions have no doubt been formed. Some will be hard to shake off.

However, as we have seen in the US presidential debates the public can well be exposed to a more controlled public platform with clear guidelines and procedures, where each speaker will be given the opportunity to articulate his thoughts on particular issues of concern.

The split-second timing of the opening presentation, rebuttal and summing up will test each candidate’s ability to raise the most relevant issues and focus on their solution.

The public will be able to assess not only the speaker’s mental and linguistic prowess and the strength of his arguments, but also the sincerity of the communication manifested in the gestures and other paralinguistic features.

Five of the most outstanding issues can form the substance of the debate. My suggestions are: crime and corruption; urban and rural poverty; economic equity; education reform; and socio-cultural polarisation.

High on the list of concerns are issues of crime and corruption which underlie much of the people’s grouses and the nation’s shortcomings. It is therefore urgent that they receive the singular attention of the leaders to ensure they are expertly handled.

We need to hear definitive and categorical statements by Najib and Anwar on their strategies and line of action. The two speakers have to convince the rakyat they indeed have exceptional political will to cleanse the nation of these societal scourges.

I would like to urge the Election Commission to take the giant step in organising Malaysia’s first prime ministerial debate.

This will give the two aspirants equal time and space to demonstrate their participation in the truly democratic, free and fair election system desired by a maturing Malaysian electorate.

Datin Halimah Mohd Said
Association of Voices of Peace, Conscience and Reason (PCORE)

2 Responses to “PUBLIC DEBATE”

  1. 1 jay
    April 9, 2013 at 12:12 am

    was this written by a dreamer???

  2. 2 ninitalk
    April 9, 2013 at 8:12 am

    Don’t you dream jay? You had better start because many dreams come true and turn into great visions!

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