Inaugural political debate resonates with Sabahans

By Luke Rintod

Sabah PKR is ‘waiting for approval’ from Kuala Lumpur to take part in the Democracy Sabah-organised series of debates among party leaders.

PENAMPANG: Sabahans here heard their first ever political debate between opposing politicians in Sabah last night and returned home satisfied at the standards set by speakers Jeffrey Kitingan from the State Reform Party (STAR) and DAP’s Dr Edwin Bosi.

Dubbed the ‘great debate’, it was organised by the newly formed NGO Democracy Sabah or Desah, headed by former Suhakam vice-chairman Simon Sipaun.

A 300-strong enthusiastic crowd sat attentively listening to Jeffrey and Dr Bosi debate on “Which political party is the best alternative for Sabah’.

Both politicians were persuasive and stood their ground though Dr Bosi failed to convincingly deal with persistent questions from the floor on whether Sabah is a state or a country by itself vis-a-vis the 1963 Malaysia Agreement.

Each was given 20 minutes to lay out their main argument and later given three questions to ask the other before they concluded their arguments. The debate was then open to the floor.

The debate was the first of a series which was initially intended to be a face-off between Penampang division leaders only. It was to be a means to gauge the best representative for the Penampang parliamentary and state seats.

However, on Jeffrey’s insistence party leaders were given first go before it went down to divisional level.

Jeffrey felt that a debate between party leaders would help set the tone for meaningful arguments and ensure voters know who are the leaders as well as the vision and mission of the parties and the potential candidates.

Moderator, Arnold Puyok of UiTM, Sipaun and his deputy Michael Liew along with the two debators said the debate would help voters arrive at a better choice of parties and candidates on polling day.

Meanwhile, other political parties have reservations about taking part in the debates.

The Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP) has not confirmed its participation yet but scores of its members attended as observers last night.

Sabah PKR meanwhile said they are “waiting for approval” by their leaders in Kuala Lumpur to take part. – FMT

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