It was a game of mudslinging when political rivals Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek and Lim Guan Eng took the debate stage this afternoon for the second time in months, with both men slagging off on one another over the failed policies of their respective parties.
Dr Chua sniped at Lim’s DAP, accusing it of masquerading as a multiracial party when its leaders only dared to contest in Chinese-majority constituencies.
“Why don’t you contest in multiracial constituencies? We are a mono-ethnic party but are aims are clear,” he said during the debate organised by the Asian Strategy and Leadership Institute (Asli) at the Sunway Convention Centre.
The debate, titled “Whose policies benefit the country more”, is the second such face-off between the two political veterans in months.
“In this country, we have to balance the needs and sensitivities of all races. No particular race will feel happy,” Dr Chua pointed out.
He accused the DAP of often claiming to the country’s Chinese community that they have been marginalised under Barisan Nasional’s (BN) rule but reminded the opposition party that the poverty rate of the Chinese is still the lowest among the country’s three major races.
“Employment (rate), the highest. Property ownership, the largest,” he thundered. “We cannot deny that in the implementation process, there are those who benefit more than others and this is the bone of contention.... it causes a lot of Chinese to be angry with the government and MCA bears the burden of this.”
His political rival Lim, however, questioned the need to segregate races despite BN’s constant unity call of 1Malaysia.
“They say 1Malaysia, nak tipu siapa? (Who are they lying to?) They want to divide us to sapu Malaysia (sweep Malaysia),” Lim said today to loud cheers and applause from supporters.
“BN will keep using the race issue to scare us because they have run out of other issues. If we want to benefit from equal opportunities and realise our potential we must stop extremists from continually degrading others as inferiors,” he added.
Lim said in order to attain peace, Malaysians must “stand united and reject those who wish to divide us by preaching racial and religious hatred”.
“Don’t let BN use the race issue and anti-Malay sentiments just to hold on to power,” he urged.
“We can only be prosperous together. The time has come to focus on the economy, in employment, education and business opportunities as the conditions for prosperity,” he added.
Lim also accused BN of practicing corruption and cronyism, saying the ruling government “cannot reform to end corruption”.
“We know if we wipe out corruption, BN will die. But if we don’t wipe out corruption, Malaysia will die. The choice is clear,” he said.
“That’s why we choose ‘ubah’ (change), we want to live with liberty and dignity.”
Today’s debate was watched online via live streaming on MCA’s website and followed closely on Twitter.
Many local dailies, including MCA-owned English daily The Star, published live updates on the highly-anticipated event, which went on for two hours from 2.30pm today.
A delayed telecast of the event will be aired at 11pm tonight on Astro AEC with a Bahasa Malaysia translation on Astro Awani. -TMI