Veteran journalist Kadir Jasin, however, thinks the debate will only cause trouble for the prime minister.
KUALA LUMPUR: Umno minister Nazri Aziz has proclaimed himself a “street fighter” in the lead up to the debate with Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (PPBM) chairman Dr Mahathir Mohamad on March 25.
Nazri said he was streetwise, which he said meant he knew how to handle “difficult” situations.
“I have always been a street fighter. Street fighter or streetwise, I know how to get out of difficult situations. You are on your own to take on the fight,” he said on the planned debate between him and the former prime minister in Padang Rengas.
Nazri also discouraged Barisan Nasional and Umno supporters from attending the debate, saying he was capable of going it alone and also because he did not wish to preach to the choir.
As he was there to “convince the opposition”, he said he would prefer that Mahathir’s supporters attend the debate.
“It is better that way. I don’t want to talk to Umno representatives. I want to talk to the opposition. Let them hear my explanation.”
PPBM supreme council member and former New Straits Times editor-in-chief A Kadir Jasin, however, has predicted that Nazri’s participation in the debate would only cause trouble for Prime Minister Najib Razak.
On his blog today, Kadir said Nazri would not be representing the government or Umno, but himself and his “inflated ego” in the debate.
He called Nazri a “loose cannon” who could either defend Najib when Mahathir inevitably raised questions surrounding Najib’s administration, or cause problems for Najib.
Kadir said it was unlikely that Nazri would fully defend Najib because the Padang Renggas MP knew the prime minister was a “burden to Umno and the government”.
“He has to think of public perception.”
Kadir claimed Nazri was also secretly hoping the debate would be cancelled.
“But if it proceeds, he will defend his ego.”
Moreover, Kadir said, unlike the prime minister, Nazri did not have locus standi or the right to debate such issues as 1MDB with Mahathir.
The Mahathir-Nazri debate will take place on Nazri’s home ground, Padang Rengas, Perak, at MRSM Sultan Azlan Shah.
The event comes following challenges thrown to and fro by the two leaders on opposite sides of the political divide.
The 1MDB and BMF controversies and the RM2.6 billion donation deposited into Najib’s accounts are expected to be raised during the debate.