WHAT ought to have been a debate on Sapura Energy Bhd (SEB) between the former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak and PKR president Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim turned out to be a political positioning of their respective selves.
Sure enough, the debate started off with both stating their respective positions on SEB but even without the debate the positions of both on SEB were well-known.
Anwar had wanted a full audit of the company before assistance was rendered whereas Najib had wanted a government rescue plan.
Did the debate provide any crucial information that the public was unaware of?
The answer is no.
The debate on SEB was merely an appetiser before both the candidates went on to state their respective political stand on the development trajectory of the country.
While Najib had pretended that he knew what was necessary for the country, Anwar took a more cautious approach by saying that not everything in the past had worked well for the country.
Najib had also unashamedly talked about big projects being beneficial to the people without blinking an eye on the infamous and notorious 1MDB scandal that rocked the nation which had then paved way for Pakatan Harapan to claim control of Putrajaya in 2018.
Najib might have talked big and confidently about Barisan Nasional’s (BN) term in office without realising that the BN government had collapsed under its own weight, with Najib himself playing a role in it as well.
Najib might be gaining popularity these days but these does not mean that the people have forgotten his nefarious role in the colossal financial scandal that had rocked the nation.
He wants to be the next prime minister but how is he going to manoeuvre around his criminal conviction is anybody’s guess, and furthermore I understand that the Federal Court has fixed the dates for his appeal.
It helps debaters if they have clean record without any past misdeeds and if that were the case Anwar – the prime minister candidate of Pakatan Harapan – might have won the debate.
Although there were no fresh ideas on the subjects touched upon including SEB, Anwar’s stand in contrast to Najib was avowedly one that represented the rakyat.
While Najib had talked about government stability with the need for big projects, Anwar took a much-guarded approach.
For him it was well and good to talk about big projects, but what about accountability and transparency?
This is why he talked about the need for forensic audit, much to Najib’s amusement.
Anwar further spoke about some of Pakatan’s cost-saving measures before its government had collapsed due to the infamous Sheraton Move.
In a sense, the debate between the two political personalities was not really a debate but merely an endorsement of their respective positions on the political, economic and social position of the country.
Anwar wanted a cautious approach on account of what went wrong in the past whereas Najib wanted a more pro-active government to bring about political and economic stability.
I would have reluctantly taken Anwar’s side not because he came up with fresh and challenging ideas, but he had a clean record.
I would have taken his side not because I am with Pakatan but because the nation has to heal first to some degree from the wounds inflicted by the BN regime.
The famous saying that it better to take one step forward and two steps back might be applicable to Anwar’s position of moving and pulling back to rethink the past.
There is no way I would have supported Najib simply because he is not part of the solution; rather he is part of the problem.
Whether it is Najib or Anwar, they simply cannot pretend that past might not catch up with them.
On this matter, Anwar’s record is a lot better than Najib’s who is dubbed the father of scandals in Malaysia.
Yet some misguided sections of the society are seriously thinking that Najib has all the makings of the next prime minister of the country and such sort of thinking would be the road to yet another colossal disaster. – May 13, 2022
Prof Ramasamy Palanisamy is the state assemblyperson for Perai. He is also deputy chief minister II of Penang.