Tun Mahathir-Nazri debate to go on, will be an "intellectual discourse"


KUALA LUMPUR: Tourism and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz said his upcoming debate with Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad will be an "intellectual discourse", and not a petty quarrel among children.

Nazri also said he will not budge from his decision to debate the former prime minister on Sunday, despite the event not being aired live on television.

"Of course (the debate) is still on. I met (Home Minister) Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi and he said ‘no problem’," Nazri told reporters at the Parliament lobby here today.

He also said that there is no need to air the event live, as it will be a debate between two "regular" individuals, and not between the government and the opposition.

"I think Dr Mahathir has no post (in the opposition) and he is not the opposition leader. I am also not the head of government," he added.

Nazri made it clear that he is participating in the debate in his capacity as Padang Rengas member of Parliament, and not as a Barisan Nasional or Umno leader.

Asked whether a debate winner would be decided on, Nazri said: "No. I understand this is an intellectual discourse and not a quarrel between children. It is a serious debate. (Dr Mahathir) can ask me questions and I will answer them."

He said he would not mind if Umno members are not invited to, or decline to attend, the event, as he wants to address supporters of the opposition on various issues directly.

It was reported that neither RTM nor TV3 will provide a live telecast of the debate, which will be held in Kuala Kangsar, Perak, on March 25.

Deputy Home Minister Datuk Nur Jazlan Mohamed said his ministry had approved the permit application for the debate after receiving it from the organiser.

To be held at the Sultan Azlan Shah Mara Junior Science College (MRSM), the debate has made headlines lately, as it will touch on issues including the Bumiputra Malaysia Finance (BMF) scandal, which has been linked to Tun Mahathir's administration.