A reply to Soi Lek: Najib should debate — Galvin Wong
JULY 12 — My idea for this week’s article was a review of the MCA and DAP debate.
But most of my thoughts on it have already been penned by analysts such as Joceline Tay (although her view was a tad too Barisan Nasional friendly, but the general view of mudslinging was accurate) and my 2 cents worth would not contribute much additional value to these opinions.
However, I would like to respond to Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek’s view of why Datuk Seri Najib does not need to debate Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.
His reason was because Najib had already proven his ability to govern well the past three years.
Speaking to reporters, he said: “Why should Najib debate with Anwar? Najib is PM and has sat in a hot seat for the last three years and under difficulty, he has delivered.”
He also said: “You can see the results through his economic transformation programme, it is clear, what’s to debate?”
Firstly Najib, in the past two to three years, has said much about political reform.
One aspect of such reform is a move towards a greater and more constructive political culture in which constructive and quality debate is such a key part.
True leadership is leading by example, and although he has proven his ability to govern right, he should be taking the lead in creating an environment in which debate will flourish and contribute effectively to the democratic process.
Secondly, his conclusion that Najib need not debate is a clear disregard of public sentiment.
He is definitely entitled to his own opinion. However, to just brush off the need for a debate is in clear opposition to the views of the people.
A Merdeka Center report in February has shown that 54 per cent of Malaysians want to view such a debate although they have clearly seen Najib’s policies in the past three years.
With the rise in the number of debates in the past few months, we can probably make the conclusion that people have only become much more receptive to the idea of a debate between Najib and Anwar.
A prime minister should be a figure who can capture the hearts and minds of people with his and his party’s vision for the country’s future.
Yes, the people are of the view that Najib has delivered (his approval rating is at 65 per cent).
The question, however, is whether BN and its other leaders have delivered — and it is clear they have not, since BN’s rating is less than 50 per cent ( I explained why there is such a wide gap in my previous article).
A party and its leader is intricately linked. The leader of a party needs its support to be able to administer his vision for the country.
That’s why showing that BN — and not merely Najib — is reformist and that they will support him in his efforts is crucial.
Najib should take the stage and explain to the people how he intends to address some of BN’s fundamental problems, such as the lack of new blood.
He also needs to convince the rakyat his party is ready for change and BN’s vision for Malaysia is better, something many Malaysians still do not believe in.
What better way to prove this as well as allow the rakyat to compare two parties’ visions and plans for Malaysia than through a debate?
In the same way, major policies that have been started under the Najib administration need to be debated.
Let’s use the example Dr Chua mentioned. Contrary to his views on the ETP, the think tank REFSA has critiqued the policy extensively.
Najib needs to stand up and defend these policies, again proving that these policies really are the better way forward for Malaysia.
In conclusion, these are just a few reasons why there needs to be a debate between Najib and Anwar.
Najib may not be the better speaker, but if he truly believes that BN’s policies are better, then he should stand up and speak up.
No amount of eloquence from his opponent will be able to dispel that.
* Galvin Wong reads The Malaysian Insider
* This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of The Malaysian Insider.