KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 25 — Malaysia does not have a "culture" of seeing its prime ministerial candidates debate in public, according to the Barisan Nasional's "poster boy" Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob.

Saying there were no benefits to holding public debates, Ismail Sabri today turned down the proposal from his Pakatan Harapan (PH) rival Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim for the two of them to battle each other on policy matters in the run-up to the November 19 general election.

The caretaker prime minister from Barisan Nasional claimed that Anwar would promise "the moon and the stars” in the debate while he is busy working on his electoral campaign.

"Debate is not our culture. We have never done it before and it does not give any benefits.


"If we let him debate, he will give his promise, manifesto, even the moon and the stars will be promised. So I think it is not necessary.

"We have never organised a debate before elections and we form governments based on people’s confidence in us,” he told reporters after attending a briefing at the national police headquarters at Bukit Aman.

On October 20, Anwar suggested that prime ministerial candidates from the three main coalitions clashing in the 15th general election should debate each other ahead of polling day.


The PH chairman said the debate should focus on policy-related matters and not have insults and accusations take centre stage in their electoral campaigns.

Ismail Sabri also said the BN will be tightening its vetting process for electoral candidates this time.

He said potential candidates will have to be filtered not by the police and the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission but the Islamic Development Department as well.

"We want to know whether the proposed candidates got married in Siam or have not paid for nafkah,” he said, using the old word for Thailand.

Nafkah is support money a Muslim man has to pay his wife and children.

Ismail Sabri said Umno's top five leaders will be meeting again soon to finalised their party's election candidates before nomination day on November 5.

The Umno vice-president was also asked about the application from Parti Bangsa Malaysia (PBM) to become a BN component party.

"We are still evaluating it,” he said.

PBM and several other parties applied to join the BN coalition which is anchored by Umno in August.

The last news was on October 10 when BN chairman Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said the decision would be made "soon”.