KUALA LUMPUR, April 3 — Tourism and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Nazri Abdul Aziz questioned today if he was a security threat after the police revoked approval for his debate with Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
Nazri added that he has gotten the approval of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, who thanked him for planning to defend him in the proposed debate.
"I've met with the PM two weeks ago. He said thank you to me for willing to have this discourse with Mahathir to defend him. So did the DPM, he also stated his support," Nazri said during a press conference at Parliament today.
The federal minister said he was "shocked and surprised" by Bukit Aman's action as the debate versus the former prime minister was being done democratically.
"I'm shocked and deeply disappointed. Even as a minister I'm considered a threat to national security.
"I don't think the reason is Mahathir, it's me. He is a frail man, no threat at all to national security. Maybe it's me, maybe I'm a gangster," he said.
The Padang Rengas lawmaker also flayed the police for their hasty action despite the terms of the discourse being agreed by himself, the organisers and Dr Mahathir.
Nazri instead sarcastically suggested to the police that the debate location be held at other locations like London, Ireland or Antarctica to avoid posing a security threat.
"We can do it in London or Greenland or Antarctica at any time. There is no problem. If Malaysia is a problem, maybe it can be done in Antarctica; it’s not like the penguins there would understand," he added.
The Umno supreme council member also stressed that he is always ready for a debate with Dr Mahathir and need not do any "homework" on issues that are to be discussed like the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) and Bumiputera Malaysia Finance Limited (BMF) scandals.
Selangor police said yesterday that it cancelled its initial permit for the debate based on intelligence reports that there would be trouble if the debate proceeded as planned at the Karangkraf headquarters in Shah Alam.
Karangkraf has since said it will not continue with the debate, after police prohibited the programme twice.
The debate was originally scheduled for March 25 at the Mara Junior Science College in Kuala Kangsar, Perak, but state police prohibited the event.