Sensitive issues

I think the politicians and the people they want votes form are ready to listen to the pros and cons of arguments on the elections, I think we are even ready to talk about sensitive issues – on rights and responsibilities as citizens. Those who say we are not ready to debate are the ones not ready to debate. They are imposing their fear and ignorance on others.

In debates, not just charisma will be a plus, but wit, intelligence, and good arguments that appeal to the audience count as well. Candidates will be given the chance to be scrutinized on all these qualities. My view is that if a candidate is ready to be nominated, he/she is ready to make a stand on issues and articulate them to the constituents. Only then we will know how to differentiate between street politicians and budding statesmen.

In a debate, it is the appeal to reason, more than to emotions that will ultimately count. The outcome is how these candidates will best present the assets and liabilities of taking this or that stand.

Role of universities

I see Malaysian universities playing a role in hosting these debates. This will be a new dawn of world-classism as a standard to be achieved. I'd like to see all universities enriching the minds of the students with the "blue ocean" strategy of hosting events that will celebrate diverse political points of view.

Every day before voting day can be a time when each candidate for parliament and state seats be given the platform to debate on issues. It would be good to listen to candidates of Umno debating with those of PAS, DAP, PKR or even with an independent. We can then teach our children what it takes to be a Malaysian politician.

As an educator I have had the chance to train and groom debators. A number of them went on to Harvard, Princeton, Yale, Columbia, Cambridge, Wharton School of Business, College de France and many top American and British universities. These are kampong kids trained in the rigour of public debates. They acquire the skills of argumentation through debates.

Political debates event should be made open to the public. Schoolchildren, government servants, businessmen and women, homemakers/housewives and househusbands can all come and be educated of the issues before they cast their votes. There is no need to give them money, kain pelikat, kain batik, sacks of rice, Gucci and Coach handbags, vacation trips, or even huge contracts to make them vote – all will be about respecting the mind of the voters by turning them into intelligent voters who use rational arguments to make rational choices.

by Azly Rahman

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