PETALING JAYA: DAP’s Lim Kit Siang today backed down from taking up Najib Razak’s challenge to a debate, a day after saying he would take on the former prime minister on condition that the topic was centred on “kleptocracy”.
Lim cited what he claimed was an “avalanche of advice” from Malaysians telling him not to proceed with the debate, as well as the likelihood that the debate would be turned into a “Malay vs Chinese conflict”.
“I have decided not to proceed with the debate with Najib,” said Lim, adding that he was aware that his decision would be greeted with the label that he is a coward.
“My 53 years of politics is an open book for Malaysians to judge whether I am a coward or not, and I am always prepared to subject myself to the judgement of Malaysians,” he added.
Analysts had said the debate would be an opportunity for Najib to reach out to a wider support base and cast the spotlight away from all of his alleged transgressions.
Najib had suggested that the debate be held after the Hari Raya celebrations and telecast live. He hoped other topics could also be included.
While he did not suggest these other topics, Najib had in the past criticised the Pakatan Harapan administration on its policies, including Putrajaya’s U-turns and issues related to the country’s economic performance.
“He can ask me anything, even 1MDB. And I can ask him anything. In the spirit of a healthy democracy, he should take up the challenge,” he said.
The DAP adviser, on the other hand, has been constantly reminding the people about Najib’s alleged wrongdoings.
Lim said he had no objection to other topics being discussed at the debate but the subject matter must not be changed.
He said the subject matter must clearly be publicised as “How Malaysia became a global kleptocracy and how can we become a leading nation of integrity”.
He also welcomed those who had views on the subject to contact him.