State Polls: Rafizi-Syahir debate can have an impact on voter’s choice?

State Polls: Rafizi-Syahir debate can have an impact on voter’s choice?

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 9 (Bernama) — The debate between PKR deputy president Rafizi Ramli and PAS assistant secretary-general Mohd Syahir Sulaiman tomorrow, will most certainly heat up the campaign ahead of the six state elections this Saturday (Aug 12).

However, considering the fact that neither of them is contesting in the polls, the question arises if the debate titled ‘Malaysia’s New Economic Model’ would have an impact on voters’ choices, especially the fence-sitters?

Some local political analysts are of the view that such debates prior to elections – which have become a common practice in developed countries – need to be nurtured in Malaysia as a platform to encourage mature politics.

But they also feel that the Rafizi-Syahir debate would not have a big impact on voters’ decisions in Selangor, Penang, Kedah, Kelantan, Terengganu and Negeri Sembilan, as debates were still not the main criteria for voters to evaluate their potential leaders.

Political analyst Prof Dr Azmi Hassan said in countries such as the United States, debates had become a culture among its people and were often used as reference points to know the facts, principles and policies of a party or candidate before making a decision.

However, the geostrategist and senior fellow of the Nusantara Academy for Strategic Research (NASR) said the Rafizi-Syahir debate was still uncommon and awkward in the country, besides being constrained by certain formats, and hence, would have minimal impact on voters’ choices.

“In fact, if you look at the impact of the debate between Najib (Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak) and Anwar (Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim) a few years ago, it didn’t have much impact even though both were big icons of their respective parties at the time.

“Not to mention the debate this time, both (Rafizi and Syahir) are only members of parliament, not candidates (in the state elections) and Rafizi is also not (considered) to be representing PH-BN. By right, in this case (debates during the state election season) should involve menteri besar candidates who are contesting, only then would it become an effective campaigning platform,” he told Bernama.

Looking at the topic of the debate and considering the backgrounds of the two figures, Azmi said he was confident that it would revolve around inflation, the high cost of living and the prices of goods.

“Rafizi, who is now in the government may face criticism from Syahir, including the promises made before becoming a minister, but it is also difficult for Syahir because there is no example (of success) that he can highlight in the states where they (PAS) have formed the governments, namely in Kelantan, Kedah and Terengganu,” he said.

Meanwhile, Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM) Kedah’s senior lecturer at the Faculty of Administrative Science and Policy Studies, Dr Jazimin Zakaria said the organising of the Rafizi-Syahir debate could be considered as part of a journey to improve the political maturity and literacy of the rakyat.

“This is a good step, also a bonus for ths Opposition to present their arguments, (as well) open debates would bring about maturity and become a platform for the people to get the full picture on certain issues, and at the same time we avoid partisan politics and obsession with a particular party or individual.

“This is what we want, so like a developed country, the people are politically literate, understand what they want, what their rights are and how important they are to the country,” he said.

The elections in six states on Aug 12 involves 36 state seats in Kedah; Kelantan (45); Terengganu (32); Penang (40) Selangor (56) and Negeri Sembilan (36). The Kuala Terengganu Parliamentary by-election will also be held on the same date.


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