`Form the Government Today, Fuel Price Down Tomorrow’ Debate
My premonition in my comment in Dato Ibrahim Yahya's blog Dunia Tiger that whether Shaberry Cheek win or lose the debate, Anwar will "win", turned out true. He got what he set to do, and used the occasion to the hilt. Admittedly, we can't deny the fact that Anwar did better as a debater.
It doesn't really matter whether Shaberry Cheek won or lost. Or was he was credible or not? I tend to see he did well given his limitation. Or will Shaberry keep his job or not? He will still have his job. Even if, some believed Shaberry provided more fact and depth in his argument over Anwar's shallow but disgestable to the masses arguments.
Lets forget that Anwar will always take a populist stance for political expediancy. Perhaps, he shifts his stance with the crowd he is talking to. Put aside the fact that Anwar's proposal is not financially viable given our Tapis blend is not meant for vehicular use. Dr Mahathir and Tengku Razaleigh both saw the need to raise pump prices, albeit not a drastic one. Conveniently, Anwar also agreed with that stance.
This was a public political debate. Perception over, who looks, sounds and appeals more to the masses, matter more. It's not an academic forum with discussion held in draggy monotonous voice and the attendee get excited over some hair splitting debate over definition and choice of words.
With most of Malaysians out there seeking for someone to reinforce their opposition to the drastic oil hike, it was political public relation disaster. It may not be as bad as the decision to have the polls on March 8th at the wake of BN's lowest ebb on the opinion poll. But, it could be one if Anwar is taken in by police for his sodomy allegation.
In the end, I agree with Dato Ibrahim that the Rakyat won. Its an appropriate comment by Dato Ahmad Talib that it has "set a new benchmark in the articulation of public issues". With effort like Shah Alam Free Speech already staging inter-partisan debate, do we need to resort to street demonstration? In the long term, this is a better strategy to counter the resentment by the people built by the opposing Pakatan Rakyat.
This was a political debate and its about reaching out to the fence sitter. The content of fact, statistics and argument come secondary and does not need in-depth academic justification.
It is more about exhibiting a better perception of confidence, winning the heart with wits and small gestures, and delivering arguments decipherable to the common folks.
Watch this You Tube of the opening argument that set the stage of the debate.
After the opening arguments, the debate digressed from a policy debate into what it actually is, a political debate. To realised it, compare with the closing arguments below:
Shaberry may have the might of the Barisan Nasional and Government machinery behind him but he was an underdog up against a heavyweight orator.
The odds are stacked against him to defend the Tingkat 4-inspired liberal market-determined economy. As a former Semangat 46, the policy does not jive with his Malay Nationalistic ideological background. Perhaps, one can speculate that his heart is not in it.
The poor quality of questions from his 'wakil' indicate his team did not comprehend Anwar's arguments already expressed in his public rallies. It does he seemed he had no debating strategy or a poor strategy, if there had been one.
Shaberry did caught Anwar on the price set for the 50 sen reduction proposal but missed many of Anwar's weak or generalised arguments like the unaccounted RM3 billion. If not for repeated low blows and few theoretically inconsistent explanation on inflation, which Anwar also uttered, Shabery could have come close to even. Perhaps, he achieved politically what he personally set out to do.
Most of the blog posting and comments expectedly favours Anwar but few postings like that by Bigdog, and Rocky Bru shed a different light.
With the public generally resenting towards the recent oil hike, the people were looking for an argument to reinforce their opposition. This debate provided a rallying point for them in Anwar Ibrahim. Thats a political disaster for UMNO with its popularity sliding further with ole sleepy still holding on to the wheels.
In fact, some political pundit suspect that this is a program to make Anwar more appealing to the masses and eventually UMNO have no choice but to welcome him. On deck are some crossover to UMNO brought in by Trojan horse with Anwar's blessing.
However before it happen, the Government have to contend now with an Anwar that has raised his popularity. He has the fuel to douse more anger and play up a conpiracy the police will take him away on the sodomy allegation to deny his leadership rise.
Thats one possible reason Anwar did not met the police on Monday and using police harassment as an excuse. He need to use the debate for is advantage.
It seems the cabinet was against the debate but sleepy insisted.
However there is no lost there.
It is a new democratic milestone in Malaysian politics. In the long run, people will benefit from access to more point of views. It will raise political consciousness and greater understanding in issues by the people to create a more rationale political climate.
Openness will dispell any need for disruptive and anger driven public demonstration. It will raise the standard of politics in UMNO to improve the people's perception and be more professional, objective, and articulative.
Kudos to Shabery.
Yes, it's one step forward for democrasy.
But will UMNO rise up the expectation set with a leadership that is unable to articulate himself, fear a free press conference and oblivion to the lower voices within his own party?
I just celebrated my birthday. Make your conviction my birthday gift, Pak Lah.
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