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Friday, June 5, 2015

Unbecoming of a statesman


Salleh Said Keruak



Those critical of Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak are mocking him for not attending the ‘Nothing2Hide’ dialogue session today. Some have even called him a coward for ‘chickening out’ and for not having the guts to face Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

Personally, I think the public dialogue that was going to be turned into a public brawl between the Prime Minister and Dr Mahathir is a bad idea. I was actually quite relieved when it was called off.

First of all, I do not see what such a brawl can achieve. There are no winners and losers in something like this. I remember when a public debate was held between PKR Youth and Umno Youth, also in PWTC, and it was reduced to a jeering match with both sides claiming they won the debate.

All it did was to reduce the dignity of the debaters to the level of the crowd who were only interested in seeing a fight and were not interested in the facts that the debaters had to argue.

This is what would have happened today. No one would have been interested in what the Prime Minister has to say. What they wanted to see was for Dr Mahathir to hentam Najib in public.

In fact, that was the very purpose for Tun Mahathir turning up, so that he could hentam Najib. Dr Mahathir does not care what Najib has to say. He has already decided he will not accept Najib’s explanation.

Dr Mahathir has reduced himself from the level of a statesman to that of a street brawler. And this is most unfortunate. What is even more unfortunate is that Dr Mahathir expects the Prime Minister to also come down to this level.

Had Najib turned up today the entire event would have become undignified. With the shouting, booing and jeering, and the main purpose being to run down the Prime Minister, nothing would have been achieved.

It was, therefore, a very good idea that Najib did not turn up. I dread to think what would have happened had he turned up and tempers had gone out of control. Under such a situation it does not take much for words to turn to violence.

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