PETALING JAYA: Election reforms coalition Bersih 2.0 has called off a debate among candidates of the upcoming Semenyih by-election following the cold response from the Pakatan Harapan and Barisan Nasional candidates.
It said only PSM’s Nik Aziz Afiq Abdul and independent candidate Kuan Chee Heng accepted the invitation.
Both candidates are seen as the underdogs, with the attention focused on the showdown between PH and BN, which are represented by PPBM’s Muhammad Aiman Zainali and Umno’s Zakaria Hanafi respectively.
“We decided that it would not be meaningful for us to continue with the debate, which would have been aired live on national TV, without the participation of the candidates from the two main coalitions in the country,” said Bersih.
The group also took to task PPBM’s Aiman for reportedly refusing to debate due to the absence of the BN candidate.
“Does he mean that PSM and the independent Kuan are not worthy of contesting against him?
“This makes the boast of a New Malaysia hollow when they choose to do politics the way it was done before GE14,” said Bersih.
It said the refusal of the two candidates “raises questions of their suitability to represent the people of Semenyih”, adding that the debate should have been welcomed as it would reinforce democracy.
It said the PH and BN candidates also missed an opportunity to show that they have the courage to be scrutinised on issues and policies.
“Had they joined the debate, they would have had the opportunity to speak to at least a million Malaysians, including tens of thousands of Semenyih voters,” it added.