Selangor Menteri Besar Abdul Khalid Ibrahim’s four representatives were not allowed take their place at an MCA-organised debate on the Talam Corp debt restructuring exercise.
The quartet walked out after it became clear that they would not be allowed on stage, amidst boos from a 500-strong pro-MCA crowd.
A minor scuffle broke out between MCA and Pakatan Rakyat supporters, numbering at about 200, prompting the police to intervene.
At least four persons were seen being taken away by police in handcuffs for reasons that are still unclear, but is believed to be for the possession of retractable batons.
Khalid had earlier appointed four representatives – DAP’s Tony Pua (left, in picture), PAS’ Dzulkefly Ahmad (centre, in picture), PKR’s William Leong (right, in picture) and his political secretary Faekah Husin – to answer all matters related to debt restructuring exercise.
They were at the International Youth Centre in Kuala Lumpur well before 8pm, which was the advertised time for the debate to start.
However, by about 8.20pm, the emcee announced that the event would start, but not before saying a few words to rile up the audience.
“It is now 8.22pm and according to the schedule, the debate is to start at 8.30pm. So with ladies and gentlemen’s permission, I invite you to wait for Khalid’s arrival since our other debater (Labis MP Chua Tee Yong) is already waiting here.
“Let us see whether Khalid dares to accept the organiser’s challenge. There would also be a question-and-answer session... and for the Yang Berhormat representing Pakatan, you are invited to remain here and perhaps you may have questions for Chua...,” he said.
At this juncture, Khalid’s representatives left the hall and were showered with jeers from the pro-MCA crowd.
MCA's missed opportunity
Speaking to reporters later, Pua said Chua should know his place and that he was not qualified to debate with the menteri besar.
“I talk so much but I would not ask to debate (Prime Minister) Najib Abdul Razak because it is not my place,” he said.
However he said he is still willing to debate with Chua despite tonight’s events.
Meanwhile, Dzulkefly said Chua and MCA had missed a major opportunity to expose Pakatan Rakyat’s alleged wrongdoings.
“Tonight was the night where he can shame us with all the supposed facts we have committed (in) this ‘Talam scandal’ before his own supporters as well as ours."
Leong, who was sitting next to Dzulkefly, added that this shows the invitation to debate with Khalid was insincere, and he challenged Chua, as deputy agriculture and agro-based industry minister, to emulate the Selangor government by auditing several alleged scandals involving the federal government and make the report public.
These include the National Feedlot Centre (NFC), Scorpene submarines, Sukhoi jet fighters, and the George Kent contract to extend the Ampang LRT line.
As for Faekah, she held a copy of audit firm KPMG’s audit report and said although the document was still embargoed, she was prepared to read out every transaction to help people understand the issue.
After a 45-minute monologue, Chua took three questions from the floor, of which one asked him to speculate the reason for Khalid’s absence.
“He promised so many things, but they are not fulfilled. He promised a White Paper to answer questions on the deal in the state legislative assembly, to sue me and to appoint five auditors to probe the deal.
“Since he could not keep his promises, the best thing to do is to siam (dodge, in the Hokkien dialect),” he said.
When asked about Pua’s comments that he is not qualified to debate with Khalid, Chua said, “It is not up to him alone to determine whether I am qualified.
“The problem now is that the person in charge of the transaction and is the head of Menteri Besar Incorporated is not Tony Pua, (it is) the menteri besar. Therefore, why is he not here to debate?”
Chua added that some affairs, just as voting in elections, could not be delegated to representatives.