Malaysian Chinese at a Political Crossroads forum; Chua-Lim Debate, all hype but no climax

Malaysian Chinese at a Political Crossroads forum; Chua-Lim Debate, all hype but no climax

All hype but no climax

Analysis By BARADAN KUPPUSAMY Feb 20, 2012

Many  at the much-touted debate between Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek and Lim Guan Eng were left disappointed as key issues whether a superior two-party system is on the cards and DAP‘s justification of its alliance with PAS were not answered.

DATUK Seri Najib Tun Razak, when opening the Chinese at the Crossroads forum on Saturday morning, had a word of advice for Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek. Citing boxing terminology, the Prime Minister urged the MCA president “to punch above your weight”, which means that Dr Chua had to do better than expected.

While Dr Chua said after the “bout” that there was no winner or loser in the “ring”, except the people, to the disinterested observer he did indeed win the day with his better presentation skill, delivery and unflustered manner.

Dr Chua upstaged his opponent, Penang Chief Minister and DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng, in the hour-long battle.

Lim entered the ring with a formidable reputation as a veteran street fighter, gained from years of lambasting MCA and Barisan Nasional at every ceramah.

Experience, however, carried the day for Dr Chua. That was the verdict of observers including some DAP leaders.

Dr Chua, a survivor of many MCA battles, spoke directly to the larger television audience. He came well-prepared.

He had also the right gestures; not grand-standing, but delivering in a matter-of-fact manner.

Lim came on stage with a public image of a debater, but left with that reputation scarred.

He now wants a second round with Dr Chua, either in Bahasa Malaysia or English, presumably to repair the damage received from the first debate that was held in Mandarin.

While both Lim and Dr Chua are English-educated, moderator Tang Ah Chai was impressed by their use of Chinese proverbs.

The duo’s supporters at the Berjaya Times Square hall were equally matched.

On hudud law, Lim slipped away without answering Pakatan Rakyat’s socio-economic programme.

Instead, he emphasised how well Penang is today with him at the helm.

He reiterated that Pakatan acted as counter-weight to the Barisan; that if it were to take over the Government, it will deal with inflation, remove tolls and give RM1,000 to some 2.1 million citizens annually.

He said Pakatan would ensure transparency by revealing its representatives’ assets, have open tenders and that corruption would not be tolerated.

Dr Chua, on the other hand, stressed that the DAP was merely advancing causes that were dear to PAS, such as the banning of cinemas and alcohol, and making multi-ethnic Malaysia Islamic.

He said DAP did not dare face Umno, but pits the Chinese against each other in all its 48 years of existence, adding that PAS would be the real beneficiary should the Pakatan come to power because it had a bigger membership base.

The audience were partisan to their heroes. And, when question time came, they used the session to embarrass both men.

DAP supporters also shouted down a questioner who raised the issue of PAS demolishing a turtle statue that adorned a roundabout after it came to power in Terengganu in 1995.

Many were left disappointed as the key issues of the day whether a superior two-party system will surface after the general election and how DAP justifies its alliance with PAS and hudud were not answered by either one.

But the fact remains: No matter how DAP justifies PAS (and it failed to do so at the debate), it is a burden to carry along an ally that is religion-based and has its own aims and ideals.

The audience, most of whom will vote at the next general election, has to decide if they want a DAP aligned to an intolerant PAS that has its own narrow-world view and demanding for an Islamic state; or a tried and tested MCA in the reforming Barisan that advocates a secular state.

Guan Eng did not say it

DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng says he did not say: “We do not agree the Prime Minister must always be a Malay because we want the people to decide”.

The Star had erroneously attributed the statement to him in a report during his debate with MCA president Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek and also in a commentary by K. Baradan yesterday.

The error in translation and in the commentary headlined All hype but no climax is regretted. The Star apologises for the error. Tuesday February 21, 2012

A political debate to watch out for


A debate between two of the fiercest ‘fighting cocks’ in Chinese politics next week will add to what many hope will be a culture of civil discussion on political and policy issues.

MCA president Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek will have a debate with DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng on the Chinese Dilemma in the Coming General Election at a political forum in Kuala Lumpur next Saturday.,AAAAybGkmck~,F3GR0Q5_RUi6gx4QbplYHsMIL-n4u_bH&bclid=0&bctid=1442047757001
ANYONE remotely interested in Malaysian politics would probably zero in on the political debate between MCA president Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek and DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng next week.

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MCA and DAP are long-time nemeses and their leaders take shots at each other almost daily, but this will be the first time that the respective top guns of the two parties are taking on each other in a debate format.

Add to this the heightened political climate and the prospect of a general election being called this year and the stage is set for an event that will attract the attention of the Chinese, if not the Malaysian audience.

On top of that, these are two of the fiercest “fighting cocks” in Chinese politics today even though they were trained in rather sedate professions – Dr Chua is a medical doctor and Lim a chartered accountant. Lim is famous for his street-fighter style of politics, who hits out even before anyone tries to hit him.

Dr Chua is an Alpha male and arguably the most aggressive president that MCA has ever elected. He has been described as a wartime president for his ability to take charge in a time of crisis.

Another interesting aspect of the debate is that Dr Chua is coming in as the perceived underdog even though he is from the ruling coalition. He does not hold a government post and he did not contest the last general election.

Lim on the other hand is coming in from a position of strength as Chief Minister of Penang. He is also Bagan MP and Air Putih assemblyman, one of a handful of privileged DAP leaders who contested dual seats in 2008. His party has never been this strong and it is the most powerful component in Pakatan Rakyat.

The topic has yet to be confirmed but it will revolve around the future of the Chinese in the context of the 13th general election. The Chinese are now the most highly politicised community in the country and some are touting the forthcoming debate as a battle for the hearts and minds of the Chinese.

It is probably not that grandiose but it will be a platform for the two men to showcase where they stand on key issues affecting the Chinese. It will provide their audience a chance to assess their thinking and ability to argue under the glare of the spotlight. Of course it is also about scoring political points because the Chinese always look up to a leader who can hit out and also take the heat.

But, generally speaking, this sort of political debates should be a welcome development in Malaysian politics where politicians are given the chance for their personality to come through and more important, to demonstrate the depth of their intellect and knowledge.

Political debates are part of the democratic process and they are a sign of a maturing democracy.

In the United States, the debates by Republican and Democrat candidates fighting for their parties’ presidential nomination have a worldwide following. The debates provide a glimpse of the personality and thinking of the persons vying to be president.

It is surprising that there have not been more of such political debates in Malaysia because previous events have been quite encouraging and generated a great deal of interest. They were definitely a world apart from some of the wild and outrageous stuff one hears at political ceramah.

The most recent debate between two Chinese politicians – Lim and Gerakan president Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon – was in August 2008. It was touted as “Chief Minister versus ex-Chief Minister” and the topic concerned a land controversy in Penang.

Another Chinese debate that took place in the 1990s was between the then Youth chiefs of MCA and DAP, namely Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat and Lim, on the rather plebian topic of “Who is the political parasite?” Those who followed it said it was highly entertaining even though it was lacking in constructive purpose or value.

One of the most watched debates was the one between PKR de facto leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and then Information Minister Datuk Ahmad Shabery Cheek in 2008 where they argued about the rising price of oil and the opposition’s boast that if they came to power, they would reduce the oil price the next day.

It was quite brave of Shabery to take on Anwar given his reputation as an orator but both men actually did well with Anwar having the edge.

The 1980s was a period where PAS and Umno were constantly challenging each other to debate on whose party was more Islamic; it was the era of kafir-mengkafir, where each accused the other of being infidels. Umno was under a great deal of pressure from PAS for being in a coalition with non-Islamic parties. The big irony now is that PAS is doing the very same thing with DAP and PKR.

But around that time, Anwar, who had just joined Umno, had taken on PAS’ Datuk Hadi Awang on the subject at a debate hosted by the Malaysian Islamic Study Group in the University of Illinois, United States. It was a hot topic here even though it was happening far from home.

The most talked about debate in recent weeks is of course the one between Umno Youth leader Khairy Jamaluddin and PKR strategy chief Rafizi Ramli last month in the United Kingdom. The two Generation X politicians spoke quite impressively and in a very civil manner on whether Malaysia was moving in the right direction towards Vision 2020. The video on YouTube had about 64,000 views.

Khairy had also taken on PAS vice-president Datuk Husam Musa in Kota Baru in 2008. Khairy proved he was a “jantan (manly) politician” in taking on Husam in the PAS state and won admirers from both sides of the fence.

The Chua-Lim debate has the promise of being something quite different given the personalities of the two men and the fact that it is taking place at a critical intersection of Malaysian politics.

No change in debate topic

Asli: Misunderstanding led to confusion
By WONG PEK MEI,  Monday February 13, 2012

PETALING JAYA: Asian Strategy and Leadership Institute (Asli) has stressed that there’s no change in the topic of the Feb 18 debate between Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek and Lim Guan Eng.

Asli director and chief executive officer Datuk Michael Yeoh said they had never changed the topic “Is a two-party system becoming a race system” to “Future of the Malaysian Chinese”, as claimed by some.

“I think there might have been a misunderstanding. Both sides had already agreed on this topic,” he said, in response to Lim’s claim that the title of the debate had been changed without his knowledge.

Yeoh said the “The Chinese at a Political Crossroads in the Next General Election” forum would be from 9am to 6pm while the much-anticipated debate between the MCA president and DAP secretary-general would be held from 5pm to 6pm.

The forum, to be conducted in Mandarin and English, at Berjaya Times Square next Saturday, is open to the public and entrance is free.

Yeoh said those interested in attending must call 03- 209305393 (Janet) to register.

Other than the debate, other topics to be discussed are the changing political landscape, the struggle of vernacular education, the social and cultural landscape in the country and the new Chinese dilemma.

Meanwhile, Astro Chinese Language Business head Choo Chi Han said the debate would be aired live from 5pm to 6pm on Astro AEC channel (301) but the channel would begin to broadcast at 4.30pm with a pre-panel discussion.

“The discussion will be moderated by AEC host Siow Hui Min while the guests appearance list is yet to be confirmed,” he said, adding that the discussion would be in Chinese.

The entire programme will be repeated at 11pm the same day after the channel’s Evening Edition News.

Astro Awani (Channel 501) will also broadcast the debate, translated to Bahasa Malaysia, live. Details will be confirmed later.

Chinese voters will be more politically aware in next election, says Asli director

By NG CHENG YEE,  Sunday February 12, 2012

PETALING JAYA: “The Chinese at a Political Crossroads in the Next General Election” forum is expected to raise political awareness and keep voters informed about their options in the next general election.

Asian Strategy and Leadership Institute (Asli) director and chief executive officer Datuk Michael Yeoh said the forum, organised by Asli and MCA think-tank Insap, would allow for intellectual discussions on the future of the Chinese community and the directions they could take in the next general election.

“We hope the forum will help people to make a more informed choice when they vote,” he said.

He said among the topics that would be discussed were the changing political landscape, the struggle of vernacular education, the social and cultural landscape in the country, the new Chinese dilemma and the much-anticipated debate between MCA president Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek and DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng.

Acknowledging that the interest in the forum had shot up due to the debate, Yeoh said it might involve heated arguments but he believed the speakers would do it rationally.

He said Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall chief executive officer Tan Ah Chai had been selected as the moderator of the debate.

On why the organiser shot down the proposal by Lim to have former MCA president Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat as the moderator, Yeoh said: “We wanted someone who does not have a political background.”

The forum will also involve speakers from both sides of the divide, including MCA deputy president Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai, SUPP president Datuk Seri Peter Chin, Gerakan president Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon, DAP deputy chairman Dr Tan Seng Giaw, Liberal Democratic Party president Datuk Liew Vui Keong and DAP strategist and international bureau secretary Liew Chin Tong.

Others include MCA Youth chief Datuk Dr Wee Ka Siong, MCA young professional bureau chief Datuk Chua Tee Yong, DAP deputy secretary-general Chong Eng, Gerakan secretary-general Teng Chang Yeow, DAP MP Teo Nie Ching and SUPP treasurer Datuk David Teng Lung Chi.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak will deliver the keynote address on “Succeeding with Political Transformation”.

The forum, to be conducted in Mandarin and English, will be held at Berjaya Times Square next Satur-day.

It is open to the public and entrance is free.

Guan Eng: I agreed to a different debate topic

Sunday February 12, 2012

BUTTERWORTH: DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng claims that the title for the Feb 18 debate with MCA president Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek has been changed without his knowledge.

The Penang Chief Minister, who declared on Friday that he would take on Dr Chua, said he did not know that the topic had been changed to the “Future of the Malaysian Chinese”, as claimed by some.

“It is not acceptable to talk about the Chinese community only, as DAP is for all Malaysians,” he said after meeting Village Safety and Develop­ment Committee (JKKK) members at the Dewan Besar Sungai Dua here yesterday.

The debate is to be held during the “The Chinese at a Political Crossroads in the Next General Election” forum organised by Asli and MCA think-tank Insap at Berjaya Times Square in Kuala Lumpur on Feb 18.

The debate will be aired over Astro AEC.

Related posts:

Malaysian Two Party System Becoming a Two-Race System?” A question of one or two sarongs!

Malaysian Politics: Chua-Lim Debate Sets New Standard

Malaysian Chinese Forum kicks off with a bang; Chua-Lim showdown!

Is the Two-Party-Sytem becoming a Two-Race-System? Online spars started ahead of tomorrow Chua-Lim debate!

India Upgrades Its Military With China in Mind

By NIRMALA GEORGE Associated Press

India has decided to buy 126 fighter jets from France, taken delivery of a nuclear-powered submarine from Russia and prepared for its first aircraft carrier in recent weeks as it modernizes its military to match China’s.

The documentary discusses how Indian economy compares to Chinese economy and the challenges faced by Indian economy in the years ahead. The documentary is in Hindi.

India and China have had tensions since a 1962 border war, and New Delhi has watched with dismay in recent years as Beijing has increased its influence in the Indian Ocean.

China has financed the development of ports in Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Myanmar, and its recent effort to get access in the Seychelles prodded New Delhi to renew its own outreach to the Indian Ocean island state off western India.

With its recent purchases, running into tens of billions of dollars, India is finally working to counter what it sees as aggressive incursions into a region India has long dominated.

“The Indian military is strengthening its forces in preparation to fight a limited conflict along the disputed border, and is working to balance Chinese power projection in the Indian Ocean,” James Clapper, the U.S. director of national intelligence, told a Senate committee last week.

India has created new infantry mountain divisions and plans to raise a strike corps aimed at countering aggression by China. Their border still has not been set despite 15 rounds of talks, and patrols frequently face off on the ground.

AP FILE- In this March 29, 2011 file photo… View Full Caption
 Analysts say that although the probability of a conflict between the two Asian giants is remote, a short, sharp conflict in the disputed Himalayan heights can’t be ruled out.

“Over the last couple of years, the Chinese have been acting more and more aggressively in the political, diplomatic and military arena,” said retired Brig. Gurmeet Kanwal, director of the Indian army-funded Centre for Land Warfare Studies in New Delhi.

Indian leaders and defense strategists have fretted as China modernized its forces and extended its military advantage over India. For some in India, countering China is taking precedence even over checking longtime rival Pakistan.

“Of late, there has been a realization (in India) that China is the real danger of the future,” Kanwal said.

But Zhao Gancheng, an South Asian expert from the Shanghai Institute of Foreign Studies, said India’s reasons for building up its military go well beyond China.

“Of course, India takes a cautious attitude against China due to some unsettled historical issues. But I still believe India’s fundamental goal of developing the military ability is to become a globally big country,” Zhao said. “Next, it wants to make certain preparation for so-called potential threats coming from China and other countries.”

From China’s perspective, India’s military buildup is “not a main factor” in its defense plans, Zhao said. “Not many people in China regard India as a threat and China has no intention to take part in a military contest with India,” he said.

The drive to modernize Indian forces was long overdue as much of the equipment was obselete Soviet-era weapons, and the orders for fighter jets, naval frigates, helicopters and armaments have made India the world’s largest importer of arms. The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute said India accounted for 9 percent of all the world’s weapon imports in 2010, the latest year for which figures were available.

Last week’s order of 126 combat aircraft, won by France’s Dassault, followed a bitter battle by global jet manufacturers. The initial cost for the fighter jets is estimated as $11 billion, but on-board weaponry, technology transfers, maintenance, warranties and other costs are expected to almost double the price.

The Indian navy last week took command of a Russian Nerpa nuclear submarine, renamed INS Chakra-II, at the Russian port of Vladivostok, propelling India into an elite group of countries operating underwater nuclear-powered vessels. It joins the United States, France, Russia, Britain and China.

The Chakra-II, on lease for 10 years at a cost of nearly $1 billion, is expected to be inducted into the navy by March. Later this year, India is expected to take delivery of a retrofitted Soviet-built aircraft carrier.

In addition, six Scorpene subs being built in India under license from France in a $5 billion deal are expected to start going into service in 2015, three years behind schedule, said Defense Minister A.K. Antony. Labor problems and difficulties procuring needed technology have hampered the project, he told the Indian Parliament recently. Critics also blame India’s sluggish bureaucracy for the delays.

“India’s efforts at modernizing its forces have been very slow,” said Rajeswari Pillai Rajagopalan, a defense analyst at the New Delhi-based Observer Research Foundation.

Some Indian military experts complain that the country is not doing enough to upgrade its forces to the level befitting the regional power it aspires to be.

AP FILE- In this Feb. 9, 2009 file photo, an… View Full Caption

“It’s not only China that is rising. India is on the ascent too, and it’s a trend that will continue for some decades,” said retired Air Vice Marshal Kapil Kak at the Centre for Air Power Studies in New Delhi.

India may be worrying over China’s overtures to its neighbors, but New Delhi is reaching out to the Southeast Asian and East Asian countries in Beijing’s backyard as well.

India has struck a strategic partnership with Vietnam, including helping Hanoi beef up its defense capabilities. Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has been actively pursuing a “Look East” policy, engaging the leaders of South Korea, Japan, Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand, among others. The policy has resulted in a troupe of high-level visits to India, bolstering trade and economic cooperation.

Nowhere is the contest between China and India more evident than in Myanmar, where both of the energy-seeking Asian giants are caught in a race to gain access to the country’s natural gas sources.

India has regularly conducted defense exercises with countries in the region. It is scheduled to host the navies of 14 Asian countries in maritime exercises later this week; the Chinese and Pakistani navies have not been invited.

And, while India is increasing its defense capabilities, China is doing the same, but faster, making it difficult for India to catch up. The Chinese government’s military budget is the second largest in the world after the United States.

India has raised two mountain divisions of soldiers to add to its existing high-altitude troops. Around 36,000 soldiers and officers of the divisions have been posted in the remote northeast, not far from India’s Arunachal Pradesh state, which China claims as part of its territory.

A proposal for a mountain strike corps is awaiting clearance by India’s Cabinet, and an independent armored brigade for the mountain region also is in the works. India hopes to show it can strike deep beyond its neighbor’s borders to serve as a deterrent for any Chinese aggression, Kanwal said.

“India is building up its capability for offensive operations in the mountains with a view to taking the fight into Chinese territory,” Kanwal said.

Singapore warns US on anti-China rhetoric!

By Shaun Tandon (AFP)

Suggestions on how to contain China’s rise may spark reaction

WASHINGTON — Singapore urged the United States to be careful in comments on China, warning that suggestions of a strategy to contain the rising power could cause strife in Asia.

On a visit to Washington, Foreign Minister K. Shanmugam voiced confidence that the State Department accepted the need for cooperation with China but said that US domestic politics “resulted in some anti-China rhetoric.”

Singaporean Foreign Minister and Minister for Law K. Shanmugam attends “The Singapore Conference” in Washington, DC, on Wednesday, Feb. 8, 2012. Shanmugam is currently visiting Washington to meet US policy makers. AFP PHOTO/JEWEL SAMAD

“We in Singapore understand that some of this is inevitable in an election year. But Americans should not underestimate the extent to which such rhetoric can spark reaction which can create a new and unintended reality for the region,” he said.

Singapore is a close partner of Washington and home to a key US military logistical base.

But the city-state is highly dependent on trade and has sought smooth commercial relations with Asia’s major economic powers such as China, Japan and India.

“It’s quite untenable — quite absurd — to speak in terms of containment of China. That’s a country with 1.3 billion people,” Shanmugam told a conference on Singapore at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

China “is determined to progress in all fields and take its rightful place in the community of nations. It will succeed in that venture,” he said.

The United States, while looking to trim spending on its giant military to tame a soaring debt, has set a priority on Asia as rapid economic growth and the rise of China look set to reshape the region.

The US military has sought closer cooperation with the Philippines and Vietnam, which have accused China of increasingly bellicose actions to assert control over disputed territories in the South China Sea.

Shanmugam said that the United States should also look at other ways of engagement in Asia such as pressing ahead with the Trans-Pacific Partnership, an emerging trade pact that involves at least nine countries.

It is “a mistake to focus only on the US military presence in the region, to the exclusion of other dimensions of US policy,” he said.

President Barack Obama’s administration has repeatedly said that it welcomes the rise of China and will try to find areas for cooperation.

Vice President Joe Biden, ahead of a US visit by his counterpart Xi Jinping, called in a statement Wednesday for the two powers to work together on “practical issues.”

Addressing the same conference as Shanmugam, senior US diplomat Kurt Campbell agreed it was “very important we’re careful about our rhetoric” and said that the United States wanted a relationship with China “based on the well-being” of both countries.

“Every country in Asia right now wants a better relationship with China. That’s natural and any American strategy in the region has to be based on that fundamental recognition,” said Campbell, the assistant secretary of state for East Asia.

“It is also the case that every country in Asia, I believe, also wants a better relationship with the United States,” he said.

Shanmugam did not cite examples of “anti-China” comments in the United States, but a number of US lawmakers have raised fears about Beijing’s rise.

At a congressional hearing Tuesday, Representative Dana Rohrabacher called for the United States to ramp up support for the Philippines to help the democratic US ally assert its claims in maritime disputes with China.

“We need to stand as aggressively and as solidly with the Filipino government in their confronting an aggressive, arrogant China — expansionist China — as we have stood with them against radical Islam,” said Rohrabacher, a Republican from California.

Economic disputes with China have also come to the forefront.

In a recent television commercial that outraged Asian American groups, Representative Pete Hoekstra — a Republican seeking a Senate seat in Michigan — attacked his opponent with an advertisement criticizing US debt to China.

In the advertisement, a young Asian woman — in a setting that looked more like Vietnam than China — said in broken English, “Your economy get very weak; ours get very good.”

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