No Q&A, no live audience for 1MDB debate, minister tells Tony Pua

Last Wednesday, Pua challenged 1MDB president and group executive director Arul Kanda (pic) to a live televised talk show session following the latter’s appearance in an interview conducted by national news agency Bernama. — Picture by Mohd Yusof Mat Isa
Last Wednesday, Pua challenged 1MDB president and group executive director Arul Kanda (pic) to a live televised talk show session following the latter’s appearance in an interview conducted by national news agency Bernama. — Picture by Mohd Yusof Mat Isa

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KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 2 — The highly-anticipated debate between 1Malaysia Development Berhad’s (1MDB) Arul Kanda Kandasamy and DAP’s Tony Pua will not be in the form of a question-and-answer (Q&A) session or be conducted before a live audience, Communications and Multimedia Minister Datuk Seri Dr Salleh Said Keruak said today.

The minister said it was inappropriate to have the session in the form of a Q&A where only one party questions the other, pointing out that a debate involves both parties arguing out their respective points.

“RTM is ready to broadcast it (the debate) live so we leave it to the two parties to decide on the verbal format, whereby it has to be agreed by RTM,” Salleh said referring to national broadcaster Radio Televisyen Malaysia.

“However, when it comes to the question of the debate, this is not a question and answer session… not a mere question and answer session but a debate where both parties argue and table their views in relation to 1MDB,” he told reporters when met at the Dewan Rakyat lobby here.

When he first issued the challenge, Pua had asked Arul Kanda to face him in a live talk show where he could bombard the 1MDB president with questions about the troubled firm’s deals.

Salleh also said today that there will be no live audience for the Arul Kanda-Pua session, unlike during the previous debate between now jailed Opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and then communications and multimedia minister Datuk Seri Shabery Cheek.

This is, he said, is because he finds such a concept “not that suitable”.

“We feel it is better to have this debate in the studio and be televised live to allow the public to follow the programme,” he said, adding that the debate will be held by the end of this year.

“But what is more important, if you want to conduct a debate, it must be held in a very conducive environment.

“It should not be emotional and every party must argue with facts. That’s more important. At the end of the day, the audience will make their judgement, it’s not about scoring points,” he added.

Last Wednesday, Pua challenged Arul Kanda to a live televised talk show session following the latter’s appearance in an interview conducted by national news agency Bernama.

Arul Kanda then accepted the challenge but on the condition that Pua first resign from the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), a suggestion backed by Tourism and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Aziz and BN MP Liang Teck Meng who is also a member of the committee.

Last weekend, following criticism from Pua and others in the opposition, Arul Kanda withdrew the condition and told the Petaling Jaya Utara MP that he would agree to face the latter in a “live discussion, or talk show, or debate, without any condition”.

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