KUALA LUMPUR, April 2 — A hotel venue may be the answer to the police permit issue for the twice cancelled debate between Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and his critic Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz, Datuk Seri Johari Abdul Ghani suggested today.
He was weighing in on the much anticipated face-off between the former prime minister and the tourism and culture minister organised by the Karangkraf Media Group which publishes Malay daily Sinar Harian and scheduled for April 7, until Selangor police suddenly withdrew prior approval on grounds of maintaining public order.
“If can’t get [a permit], just hold the programme in a hotel, problem solved,” Johari was quoted by national news agency Bernama saying after officiating at an event in the Kampong Pandan Settlement here.
The second finance minister also said the government has already responded to all the questions regarding 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), which Dr Mahathir and Nazri were supposed to address in their now cancelled debate, adding that those seeking further information can refer to the report by Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC).
“We are open. What everyone has been saying is in the PAC report. This issue has prolonged since six years ago, and we are certainly looking for a resolution to developing 1MDB’s assets,” he was quoted saying further.
Selangor police explained earlier today that it cancelled its initial permit based on intelligence reports that there would be trouble if the debate proceeded as planned at the Karangkraf headquarters in Shah Alam.
The state deputy police chief was also reported by several news outlets saying police had received a total of 18 objections to the debate, including from residents near the Karangkraf neighbourhood, and from as far away as Hulu Selangor.
Karangkraf has since said it will not continue with the debate, after being twice denied police permission to hold the programme.
The debate was originally scheduled for March 25 at the Mara Junior Science College in Kuala Kangsar, Perak and postponed after Perak police withheld permission.
Bernama also reported today the Malaysian Council of Elected Representatives (Mubarak) commending the police for cancelling its permit for the debate.
Selangor Mubarak chief Tan Sri Abu Hassan Omar was reported saying the debate would have led to a fight between the supporters of the Umno minister and the Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia chairman.