Thursday, July 17, 2008

Anwar vs Shabery in historic debate (1 of 8)

The historic debate

Information Minister Datuk Ahmad Shabery Cheek should be commended for organizing the historic debate with Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim on the oil price hike. It was immaterial who emerged the winner in the duel but what mattered was that such a debate truly materialized in our country. That was itself a great success and the government should be praised for allowing such an event that was unprecedented.

The hosting of the debate has won the praise of the vast majority of Malaysians including the opposition. There are many opinions as to who was the winner of the historic debate. To my mind the debate itself was the real winner not Anwar or Shabery. As Shabery puts it was a victory for openness and the real winner was democracy.

The debate was conducted in a highly professional manner and the speakers and audience exhibited tremendous maturity in discussing the issue at hand. It just goes to show that Malaysians today are mature enough for openness and dialogue to overcome the many problems facing them.

They are ready to listen with discern to opposing views and accept what is right and reject what is wrong and the government should build on this readiness of the people to push for a more open system of governance, where opposing views are encouraged. It would the best way to overcome street protests and rallies that are obsolete in this modern era of Information Technology.

Whether Anwar can bring the fuel price down is not the point as he is not in a position to do so. However he has put forth his ideas on fighting the increasing fuel costs that is becoming a real burden for the people. The government must be receptive to his suggestions. He must not be seen as just an Opposition politician trying to woo support from the people but as an experienced senior citizen who is representing the voices of almost 50% of the voters and one who has the heart of the well being of the rakyat.If the suggestions of the debaters are ignored if would defeat the very purpose for which it was intended in the first place.

Malaysians in general have responded positively to the debate and they hope this will not be the first and last of such debates. Similar debates to present one’s views on important issues affecting the nation should become the norms in the future and there is a need to inculcate such a mindset of dialogue and debate in our younger generation. There should not be any issue that will be too sensitive for debate as long as it is done in a professionally controlled manner.

The developments in the country since the recent elections show that that the people are ready for a more mature and elitist dialogue and debate on all issues confronting all sections of the population. It is the question of whether our political leaders are ready for such a positive change.

Dr.Chris Anthony

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