Side Views

Open debates a demonstration of democracy — Lim Mun Fah

February 13, 2012

FEB 13 — MCA president Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek and DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng will meet in a debate scheduled on February 18.

Despite disputes over the topic and language used in the debate, it has raised great concern. Some people hope for a live broadcast; others even suggested that Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak and Pakatan Rakyat leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim also hold an open debate.

Undoubtedly, the debate has become a political focus of both the ruling and opposition coalitions. Members of the public are, too, full of curiosity and expectations. They are curious about the leaders’ debating skills, as well as their views on major national issues. Through understanding the leaders’ political styles and lines, they want to see who can show them hope for the future.

In a democratic country, open debate is not something new. Presidential debates in the US have not only become the selling point of American democracy, but as well influenced the world. The recent presidential election in Taiwan has also shown us a greatly useful example of how democracy should be practised.

To us, it is indeed a good start and a great opportunity to educate democracy if the debate can be successfully held, with the prerequisite that the debate must be high in morality and quality. Voters might be emotional or biased when it comes to national policies issues.

For politicians, however, they should show us their political perspectives without trying to please the people with claptrap and inciting emotions. Instead, they must calmly, thoroughly and rationally explain and analyse, to show the people the truth, as well as their stands and wisdom in problem solving.

However, politics is always not so rational and perfect, while politicians would not easily let go topics that are advantageous to them. As a result, they mess up the debate and turn it into a chaotic war of words. It cannot help in clarifying and finding the truth, but further confuses the public and leads to a greater conflict and confrontation.

It is impossible to change the Malaysian political ecology by holding only an open debate, while complicated political issues cannot be solved through only a debate either. It is the reality that we must face today. And we can see that debaters always act like gentlemen insisting on their stands and views in a debate that seems like a fierce war of words.

In fact, they are extremely lacking in substance with no focus. Everything returns to the status quo after the debate and politicians continue to denounce and attack each other. As for members of the audience, most of them will just listen selectively, and overwhelmingly support their preferred party, instead of being objective.

Therefore, it is always difficult to decide the winner of a debate. Different people will have different judgements.

Although we dare not to hold high expectations, as voters, we still hope to witness a meaningful debate.

Hopefully, Dr Chua and Lim can show us a debate high in both quality and standards! — mysinchew.com

* This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication. The Malaysian Insider does not endorse the view unless specified.