KUALA LUMPUR: DAP has chided television companies, namely satellite television operator Astro, for its refusal to air live the debate between Lim Guan Eng and Dr Chua Soi Lek.
DAP Youth chief Anthony Loke suspected that top level pressure forced Astro to delay the telecast of the second debate between the DAP secretary-general and MCA president.
The debate, organised by think-tank Asian Strategy and Leadership Institute (Asli), would be held at 2pm this Sunday. But Astro would only broadcast it at 11pm on its news channels Awani and AEC.
“We are very disappointed,” Loke told reporters at the party’s headquarters here.
“We are suspicious as to why the debate can’t be held live just as the first debate which drew millions of viewers,” added the Rasah MP.
Observers felt that neither Lim nor Chua were victorious in the first debate that saw the two Chinese political heavyweights square off over various issues.
The debate, titled “Chinese at the crossroads: Is the two-party system becoming a two-race system?” instead became a platform to attack each other’s party and coalition.
But DAP supporters claimed that Lim was the obvious winner, which could suggest why television companies would not broadcast Sunday’s debate live.
The second debate titled “BN and PR: Whose policies benefit the community more?” would touch on policy issues such as education, healthcare, economic prosperity and poverty alleviation.
Asli’s senior vice-president Ng Yeen Seen had denied censorship, saying it was to “enable more people to see the debate as they would be at home at night”.
Loke said the attraction the first debate as well as other debates between leaders of Pakatan Rakyat and Barisan Nasional received should prompt television stations to capitalise.
“Is it because Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak said political debate is not our culture there is pressure for the stations not to broadcast the debate live?” he asked.
Najib himself had been the subject of opposition psychological warfare, being constantly pressured to accept a debate invitation with Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim which the former rejected.
In rejecting the challenge, Najib said there was “no point” to a public debate although leaders from his own coalition believe that a public discourse was a step towards a better democracy.