|Soi Lek, Guan Eng go full blast in fiery second debate|
|Written by R B Bhattacharjee of theedgemalaysia.com|
|Sunday, 08 July 2012 18:50|
KUALA LUMPUR (July 8): MCA president Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek and Penang chief minister Lim Guan Eng put up a strong fight to claim credit for bringing the most benefit to the people in a lively second round debate here on Sunday afternoon.
Lim, who is the DAP secretary-general, got to start off the two-hour encounter organised by the Asian Strategy and Leadership Institute (Asli), hammering on the well-worn themes of corruption and race-based politics that he blamed on the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition, while Chua attacked the opposition Pakatan Rakyat's (PR) reform agenda, which he described as rhetoric.
A common theme flogged by both leaders was that their opponent's party was weak in standing up to hardline positions taken by their coalition partners.
"MCA is not qualified to be here to discuss about policies because MCA does not decide, it is UMNO that decides," Lim said in his opening salvo on the debate topic, Whose policies benefit the country more?.
In his response, Chua said: "We advocate that all the races must work together to make this nation work where there is integration and no assimilation, which is why you are still called Lim Guan Eng and not Sukarno Lim."
The two-hour debate was frequently punctuated by heckling from supporters of both leaders, and the moderator, Asli chief executive Tan Sri Dr Michael Yeoh had to repeatedly call on the 1,500-strong crowd to maintain order. The event, dubbed Debate 2.0, is a follow up on an earlier round in Mandarin between the two leaders in February, which ended on a boisterous note.
The debaters took a first round of questions from the moderator, followed by questions from a three-member panel consisting of Roketkini editor Wan Hamidi Wan Hamid for the DAP, Minister of Housing and Local Government Datuk Seri Chor Chee Heung for the MCA and Prof James Chin of Monash University as the independent panellist. The final round was dedicated to written questions posed to the two leaders from the participants.
To Yeoh’s question about the decline in urban support for the MCA, Chua said: "We accept the fact this is a multiracial country and the BN’s policy is the policy of balancing. DAP likes to tell the Chinese they are marginalised, but the poverty rate among the Chinese is still the lowest among three major races. Employment rates are the highest, and property ownership the largest."
However, he acknowledged that there were shortcomings in implementation, with some groups benefiting more than others. "This is a bone of contention," Chua admitted. "It causes a lot of Chinese to be angry with the government and MCA bears the burden of this."
Taking a dig at his opponent, Chua said: "DAP tries to portray itself as a multiracial party, but only dares to contest in Chinese constituencies."
In his question to Lim, Yeoh observed that the DAP was seen as a Chinese-based party. "Are you a Chinese party, or multi-racial party?" he asked.
Lim responded: "From the very start we are a multiracial party. Our chairman is Indian, we have had Indian MPs, Malay MPs and state assemblymen in the past. We are fair to all regardless of race and religion."
In an aside, he said: "I would like the MCA president to know that not every Chinese is as rich as the MCA leaders. Not every Chinese can apply for PR in Australia."
"At the same time we want to see justice and see that our Malay brothers and sisters are assisted," Lim said. "Why is it poor Chinese can't get scholarships, but rich bumiputeras can?"
He cited the MCA-backed TAR College as the "clearest example" of the BN coalition partner's failure. "Why was it established?" he asked. “Because of unfair quota policies where qualified students cannot enter public universities. So you formed TAR College. Shame on you MCA."
In his closing remarks, Chua said: "Your Ubah (Change) is to demonise every government institution that is important for peace, order and the smooth running of the government. Hence you have Bersih 1, 2 and 3, and probably 4, and claim that the electoral roll is tainted and that the election is unfair. At the same time, you keep shouting that you will win the next general election. Who is lying, and who is being tainted?"
Lim, in closing, responded: "Since Merdeka, two million Malaysians have migrated overseas because they do not see a future for themselves and for Malaysia. It is time that we don’t live in our past that is filled with hatred and fear. We should look to the future filled with hope and harmony between all Malaysians."