Pre-election debates a waste of time, analyst says

Any debate involving the candidates for Semenyih will only be effective if all of them participate, says analyst Awang Azman Awang Pawi.

PETALING JAYA: An analyst has dismissed the value of debates during campaign periods, saying they will have little impact on the election outcome and are a waste of time.

Awang Azman Awang Pawi of Universiti Malaya gave the example of the Cameron Highlands by-election debate, which saw the participation of only three out of four candidates.

The debate failed to generate the desired attendance, with very few voters turning up to watch.

“Even though it was aired live on national television, the impact was not felt as it only drew outside viewers who wanted to know more about the by-election.

“It is not so interesting for local voters who are already well versed with the situation,” he told FMT.

Electoral watchdog Bersih 2.0 had proposed a debate among the Semenyih candidates but it received a lukewarm response, with only PSM candidate Nik Aziz Afiq Abdul agreeing.

Pakatan Harapan’s Muhammad Aiman Zainali and Barisan Nasional’s Zakaria Hanafi both turned it down.

Awang Azman said such debates would attract attention online but would not reflect actual support for candidates.

“Debates are generally good, but more in terms of the culture and democratic practice of speaking out,” he added.

Without the involvement of all candidates, he said, debates would only be a waste of time as the discussions would not be comprehensive.

“It would be better to spend time campaigning from house to house, or for candidates to get closer to the actual voters,” he said.