Saturday, 11 February 2012

Malaysian Chinese at a Political Crossroads forum; Chua-Lim Debate, all hype but no climax





All hype but no climax

Analysis By BARADAN KUPPUSAMY  Feb 20, 2012

Many at the much-touted debate between Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek and Lim Guan Eng were left disappointed as key issues whether a superior two-party system is on the cards and DAP's justification of its alliance with PAS were not answered

DATUK Seri Najib Tun Razak, when opening the Chinese at the Crossroads forum on Saturday morning, had a word of advice for Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek. Citing boxing terminology, the Prime Minister urged the MCA president “to punch above your weight”, which means that Dr Chua had to do better than expected.

While Dr Chua said after the “bout” that there was no winner or loser in the “ring”, except the people, to the disinterested observer he did indeed win the day with his better presentation skill, delivery and unflustered manner.

Dr Chua upstaged his opponent, Penang Chief Minister and DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng, in the hour-long battle.

Lim entered the ring with a formidable reputation as a veteran street fighter, gained from years of lambasting MCA and Barisan Nasional at every ceramah.

Experience, however, carried the day for Dr Chua. That was the verdict of observers including some DAP leaders.

Dr Chua, a survivor of many MCA battles, spoke directly to the larger television audience. He came well-prepared.

He had also the right gestures; not grand-standing, but delivering in a matter-of-fact manner.

Lim came on stage with a public image of a debater, but left with that reputation scarred.

He now wants a second round with Dr Chua, either in Bahasa Malaysia or English, presumably to repair the damage received from the first debate that was held in Mandarin.

While both Lim and Dr Chua are English-educated, moderator Tang Ah Chai was impressed by their use of Chinese proverbs.

The duo's supporters at the Berjaya Times Square hall were equally matched.

On hudud law, Lim slipped away without answering Pakatan Rakyat's socio-economic programme.
Instead, he emphasised how well Penang is today with him at the helm.

He reiterated that Pakatan acted as counter-weight to the Barisan; that if it were to take over the Government, it will deal with inflation, remove tolls and give RM1,000 to some 2.1 million citizens annually.

He said Pakatan would ensure transparency by revealing its representatives' assets, have open tenders and that corruption would not be tolerated.

Dr Chua, on the other hand, stressed that the DAP was merely advancing causes that were dear to PAS, such as the banning of cinemas and alcohol, and making multi-ethnic Malaysia Islamic.

He said DAP did not dare face Umno, but pits the Chinese against each other in all its 48 years of existence, adding that PAS would be the real beneficiary should the Pakatan come to power because it had a bigger membership base.

The audience were partisan to their heroes. And, when question time came, they used the session to embarrass both men.

DAP supporters also shouted down a questioner who raised the issue of PAS demolishing a turtle statue that adorned a roundabout after it came to power in Terengganu in 1995.

Many were left disappointed as the key issues of the day whether a superior two-party system will surface after the general election and how DAP justifies its alliance with PAS and hudud were not answered by either one.

But the fact remains: No matter how DAP justifies PAS (and it failed to do so at the debate), it is a burden to carry along an ally that is religion-based and has its own aims and ideals.

The audience, most of whom will vote at the next general election, has to decide if they want a DAP aligned to an intolerant PAS that has its own narrow-world view and demanding for an Islamic state; or a tried and tested MCA in the reforming Barisan that advocates a secular state.

Guan Eng did not say it

DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng says he did not say: “We do not agree the Prime Minister must always be a Malay because we want the people to decide”.

The Star had erroneously attributed the statement to him in a report during his debate with MCA president Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek and also in a commentary by K. Baradan yesterday.

The error in translation and in the commentary headlined All hype but no climax is regretted. The Star apologises for the error. Tuesday February 21, 2012

A political debate to watch out for

ANALYSIS By JOCELINE TAN joceline@thestar.com.my

A debate between two of the fiercest ‘fighting cocks’ in Chinese politics next week will add to what many hope will be a culture of civil discussion on political and policy issues.



ANYONE remotely interested in Malaysian politics would probably zero in on the political debate between MCA president Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek and DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng next week.
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MCA and DAP are long-time nemeses and their leaders take shots at each other almost daily, but this will be the first time that the respective top guns of the two parties are taking on each other in a debate format.

Add to this the heightened political climate and the prospect of a general election being called this year and the stage is set for an event that will attract the attention of the Chinese, if not the Malaysian audience.

On top of that, these are two of the fiercest “fighting cocks” in Chinese politics today even though they were trained in rather sedate professions – Dr Chua is a medical doctor and Lim a chartered accountant. Lim is famous for his street-fighter style of politics, who hits out even before anyone tries to hit him.

Dr Chua is an Alpha male and arguably the most aggressive president that MCA has ever elected. He has been described as a wartime president for his ability to take charge in a time of crisis.

Another interesting aspect of the debate is that Dr Chua is coming in as the perceived underdog even though he is from the ruling coalition. He does not hold a government post and he did not contest the last general election.

Lim on the other hand is coming in from a position of strength as Chief Minister of Penang. He is also Bagan MP and Air Putih assemblyman, one of a handful of privileged DAP leaders who contested dual seats in 2008. His party has never been this strong and it is the most powerful component in Pakatan Rakyat.

The topic has yet to be confirmed but it will revolve around the future of the Chinese in the context of the 13th general election. The Chinese are now the most highly politicised community in the country and some are touting the forthcoming debate as a battle for the hearts and minds of the Chinese.

It is probably not that grandiose but it will be a platform for the two men to showcase where they stand on key issues affecting the Chinese. It will provide their audience a chance to assess their thinking and ability to argue under the glare of the spotlight. Of course it is also about scoring political points because the Chinese always look up to a leader who can hit out and also take the heat.

But, generally speaking, this sort of political debates should be a welcome development in Malaysian politics where politicians are given the chance for their personality to come through and more important, to demonstrate the depth of their intellect and knowledge.

Political debates are part of the democratic process and they are a sign of a maturing democracy.

In the United States, the debates by Republican and Democrat candidates fighting for their parties’ presidential nomination have a worldwide following. The debates provide a glimpse of the personality and thinking of the persons vying to be president.

It is surprising that there have not been more of such political debates in Malaysia because previous events have been quite encouraging and generated a great deal of interest. They were definitely a world apart from some of the wild and outrageous stuff one hears at political ceramah.

The most recent debate between two Chinese politicians – Lim and Gerakan president Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon – was in August 2008. It was touted as “Chief Minister versus ex-Chief Minister” and the topic concerned a land controversy in Penang.

Another Chinese debate that took place in the 1990s was between the then Youth chiefs of MCA and DAP, namely Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat and Lim, on the rather plebian topic of “Who is the political parasite?” Those who followed it said it was highly entertaining even though it was lacking in constructive purpose or value.

One of the most watched debates was the one between PKR de facto leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and then Information Minister Datuk Ahmad Shabery Cheek in 2008 where they argued about the rising price of oil and the opposition’s boast that if they came to power, they would reduce the oil price the next day.

It was quite brave of Shabery to take on Anwar given his reputation as an orator but both men actually did well with Anwar having the edge.

The 1980s was a period where PAS and Umno were constantly challenging each other to debate on whose party was more Islamic; it was the era of kafir-mengkafir, where each accused the other of being infidels. Umno was under a great deal of pressure from PAS for being in a coalition with non-Islamic parties. The big irony now is that PAS is doing the very same thing with DAP and PKR.

But around that time, Anwar, who had just joined Umno, had taken on PAS’ Datuk Hadi Awang on the subject at a debate hosted by the Malaysian Islamic Study Group in the University of Illinois, United States. It was a hot topic here even though it was happening far from home.
The most talked about debate in recent weeks is of course the one between Umno Youth leader Khairy Jamaluddin and PKR strategy chief Rafizi Ramli last month in the United Kingdom. The two Generation X politicians spoke quite impressively and in a very civil manner on whether Malaysia was moving in the right direction towards Vision 2020. The video on YouTube had about 64,000 views.

Khairy had also taken on PAS vice-president Datuk Husam Musa in Kota Baru in 2008. Khairy proved he was a “jantan (manly) politician” in taking on Husam in the PAS state and won admirers from both sides of the fence.

The Chua-Lim debate has the promise of being something quite different given the personalities of the two men and the fact that it is taking place at a critical intersection of Malaysian politics.

No change in debate topic   
Asli: Misunderstanding led to confusion 
By WONG PEK MEI   pekmei@thestar.com.my,  Monday February 13, 2012
 
PETALING JAYA: Asian Strategy and Leadership Institute (Asli) has stressed that there's no change in the topic of the Feb 18 debate between Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek and Lim Guan Eng.

Asli director and chief executive officer Datuk Michael Yeoh said they had never changed the topic “Is a two-party system becoming a race system” to “Future of the Malaysian Chinese”, as claimed by some.

“I think there might have been a misunderstanding. Both sides had already agreed on this topic,” he said, in response to Lim's claim that the title of the debate had been changed without his knowledge.

Yeoh said the “The Chinese at a Political Crossroads in the Next General Election” forum would be from 9am to 6pm while the much-anticipated debate between the MCA president and DAP secretary-general would be held from 5pm to 6pm.

The forum, to be conducted in Mandarin and English, at Berjaya Times Square next Saturday, is open to the public and entrance is free.

Yeoh said those interested in attending must call 03- 209305393 (Janet) to register.

Other than the debate, other topics to be discussed are the changing political landscape, the struggle of vernacular education, the social and cultural landscape in the country and the new Chinese dilemma.

Meanwhile, Astro Chinese Language Business head Choo Chi Han said the debate would be aired live from 5pm to 6pm on Astro AEC channel (301) but the channel would begin to broadcast at 4.30pm with a pre-panel discussion.

“The discussion will be moderated by AEC host Siow Hui Min while the guests appearance list is yet to be confirmed,” he said, adding that the discussion would be in Chinese.

The entire programme will be repeated at 11pm the same day after the channel's Evening Edition News.
Astro Awani (Channel 501) will also broadcast the debate, translated to Bahasa Malaysia, live. Details will be confirmed later.

Chinese voters will be more politically aware in next election, says Asli director  

By NG CHENG YEE chengyee@thestar.com.my,  Sunday February 12, 2012

PETALING JAYA: “The Chinese at a Political Crossroads in the Next General Election” forum is expected to raise political awareness and keep voters informed about their options in the next general election.

Asian Strategy and Leadership Institute (Asli) director and chief executive officer Datuk Michael Yeoh said the forum, organised by Asli and MCA think-tank Insap, would allow for intellectual discussions on the future of the Chinese community and the directions they could take in the next general election.

“We hope the forum will help people to make a more informed choice when they vote,” he said.

He said among the topics that would be discussed were the changing political landscape, the struggle of vernacular education, the social and cultural landscape in the country, the new Chinese dilemma and the much-anticipated debate between MCA president Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek and DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng.

Acknowledging that the interest in the forum had shot up due to the debate, Yeoh said it might involve heated arguments but he believed the speakers would do it rationally.

He said Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall chief executive officer Tan Ah Chai had been selected as the moderator of the debate.

On why the organiser shot down the proposal by Lim to have former MCA president Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat as the moderator, Yeoh said: “We wanted someone who does not have a political background.”

The forum will also involve speakers from both sides of the divide, including MCA deputy president Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai, SUPP president Datuk Seri Peter Chin, Gerakan president Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon, DAP deputy chairman Dr Tan Seng Giaw, Liberal Democratic Party president Datuk Liew Vui Keong and DAP strategist and international bureau secretary Liew Chin Tong.

Others include MCA Youth chief Datuk Dr Wee Ka Siong, MCA young professional bureau chief Datuk Chua Tee Yong, DAP deputy secretary-general Chong Eng, Gerakan secretary-general Teng Chang Yeow, DAP MP Teo Nie Ching and SUPP treasurer Datuk David Teng Lung Chi.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak will deliver the keynote address on “Succeeding with Political Transformation”.

The forum, to be conducted in Mandarin and English, will be held at Berjaya Times Square next Satur-day.

It is open to the public and entrance is free.

 Guan Eng: I agreed to a different debate topic

 Sunday February 12, 2012

BUTTERWORTH: DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng claims that the title for the Feb 18 debate with MCA president Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek has been changed without his knowledge.

The Penang Chief Minister, who declared on Friday that he would take on Dr Chua, said he did not know that the topic had been changed to the “Future of the Malaysian Chinese”, as claimed by some.

“It is not acceptable to talk about the Chinese community only, as DAP is for all Malaysians,” he said after meeting Village Safety and Develop­ment Committee (JKKK) members at the Dewan Besar Sungai Dua here yesterday.

The debate is to be held during the “The Chinese at a Political Crossroads in the Next General Election” forum organised by Asli and MCA think-tank Insap at Berjaya Times Square in Kuala Lumpur on Feb 18.

The debate will be aired over Astro AEC.

Related posts:

Malaysian Two Party System Becoming a Two-Race System?” A question of one or two sarongs!

Malaysian Politics: Chua-Lim Debate Sets New Standard

Malaysian Chinese Forum kicks off with a bang; Chua-Lim showdown!

Is the Two-Party-Sytem becoming a Two-Race-System? Online spars started ahead of tomorrow Chua-Lim debate! 

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