KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 23 — The Astro Awani news channel will feature all candidates including an Independent when it hosts a live panel discussion among Semenyih by-election hopefuls, said Bersih 2.0.
The electoral reform group said it received digital broadcast operator Astro’s undertaking to do so for the event to be held at Dewan Karangkraf on February 27.
“Bersih 2.0 commends the progressive team behind Astro who shares our desire to see public debates as a new norm in politics and media organisations like Sinar Harian that provide platforms for public interest discourses.
“The key role media organisations plays as the fourth estate to strengthen democracy in this country is critical and we fully support such efforts,” Bersih 2.0 said in a statement today.
Pakatan Harapan’s Muhammad Aiman Zailani and Barisan Nasional’s Zakaria Hanafi previously declined Bersih 2.0’s invitation for a panel discussion between them, which led the group to abandon the attempt.
Critics denounced Bersih 2.0 for cancelling the previous edition over the two main candidates’ withdrawal, saying it was unfair to PSM’s Nik Aziz Afiq Abdul and independent Kuan Chee Heng (Uncle Kentang).
The group explained today that it was bound by its agreement with broadcasters to secure the participation of most, if not all, of the candidates as it was costly to arrange a live telecast of the event.
It further said it would attempt to organise a similar debate to be telecast live for the Rantau by-election.
Semenyih will vote in a by-election for the state seat next Saturday, March 2.