18-Day Countdown to 13GE Polling Day: Invitation to Ghani Othman to a series of seven public debates in Gelang Patah on the importance of the 13th GE to Johore and Malaysia

A week ago, I challenged former and longest-serving Prime Minister, Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, who has become the most powerful person in UMNO/BN and the person whom the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak fears most, to a series of seven public debates on his 22 years as the fourth Prime Minister of Malaysia.

This is because of the very clear and systematic attempt to revive Mahathirism, a campaign led by none other than Mahathir himself.

This series of seven public debates with Mahathir will cover an entire spectrum of achievements and failures, in fact national disasters, of the 22-year Mahathir premiership with its host of human rights violations, mega-financial scandals, rampant corruption, collapse of educational standards and the across-the-board subversion of independent national institutions like the judiciary, the police and the civil service in the country during the long night of the 22-year Mahathir premiership.

But Mahathir has declined the invitation to the series of seven public debates in Gelang Patah to examine his legacy and the baneful effect of Mahathirism on Malaysian nation-building although he has no qualms whatsoever to continue to pump racist poison, lies and falsehoods into the mainstream of Malaysian public discourse, including his seditious, inflammatory and baseless accusation against me for wanting to create a racial confrontation by contesting in Gelang Patah and his open call to the people of Johore to make Gelang Patah my “political graveyard”.

I now invite Datuk Ghani Othman, who is the BN candidate for Gelang Patah to a series of seven public debates in Gelang Patah on the importance of the 13th GE to Johore and Malaysia – the first one to be held before Nomination Day on April 20, for the following reasons:

  1. Yesterday, I invited Ghani to join me in making Gelang Patah the model constituency of clean, free and fair elections out of 222 parliamentary and 505 state assembly constituencies in the country in the 13GE as it is expected to be dirtiest in election history in Malaysia, with two of us reaching a five-point accord as follows:

    • No personal attacks or character assassination, not only by the candidates, but their election teams and workers;

    • No playing the race or religion card, as the 13GE should be an occasion to promote and foster greater and closer race relations among the races to promote national unity, and not an occasion divide and polarise further the diverse races and religions in the country.

    • No politics of money or the use of money to buy votes, which is the root cause of the rampant corruption in Malaysia.

    • Commitment by both of us to condemn and dissociate ourselves from “dirty tricks” perpetrated in Gelang Patah, even by anonymous quarters.

    • Ghani and I should sign the Transparency International-Malaysia's Election Integrity Pledge (EIP) with the establishment of a EIP Watchdog Commission in Gelang Patah constituted by Malaysians of impeccable character.

  2. Today I issue a second invitation to Ghani to make Gelang Patah the model of public discourse and debate as well as the cynosure of the 13GE focussing on the importance of the 13GE to Johor and Malaysia, as well as to future generations.

    This series of seven debates with Ghani can be a useful substitute of the proposed debate with Mahathir on the 22-year Mahathir premiership because:

    (i) Ghani is the proxy of Mahathir in the agenda to “bury” me in Gelang Patah, with Ghani fling the standard for the revival of Mahathirism in Malaysia; and

    (ii) Ghani will be a suitable candidate for a public debate on the 22-year Mahathir premiership because he is a creature of Mahathirism – first becoming a Senator in December 1984, elected to Parliament in 1986, serving respectively as Deputy Minister for the Ministries of Energy, Telecommunications and Pos as well as Finance from 1987 to 1993 and elevated to be Minister of Youth and Sports from 1993 – 1995. He was appointed by Mahathir to become Johor Mentri Besar in March 1995, serving four terms in this post.

  3. Ghani owes not only the voters of Gelang Patah but also the people of Johore and Malaysia a clear exposition of his stand on Mahathir's concept of Bangsa Malaysia and Vision 2020 as well as Datuk Seri Najib Razak's 1Malaysia concept – in particular whether he agrees with Najib or the Deputy Prime Minister, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassinn on the 1Malaysia policy.

Once Ghani agrees to a series of seven public debates on the importance of the 13GE to Johore and Malaysia, we can appoint our representatives to finalise the details about the date, place, time and topics for the public debate series. However, the first of the series of seven public debates should be held before Nomination Day on April 20.

I hope to get a reply from Ghani before my third invitation.

Lim Kit Siang DAP Parliamentary Leader & MP for Ipoh Timur