Boisterous audience mars Penang DAP-Gerakan debate

Gerakan's Liang (left) makes a point during the debate on the undersea tunnel project with DAP's Lim.

GEORGE TOWN: The public debate between Gerakan and Penang DAP on Tuesday night descended into a din of thunderous shouts, jeers and boos because of an unruly crowd, made worse when state government debater Lim Hock Seng started berating them.

"Kalau sudah kalah, cakap kalah! Jangan bising! (If you've lost, admit it! Don't make noise!)" Lim shouted at the Gerakan side of the floor when it was his turn to pose a question 27 minutes into the debate.

He had a minute to pose his question to Gerakan debater Datuk Liang Teck Meng, but Lim spent it criticising the previous state government over past projects instead.

When moderator Lee Khai interjected and told him to ask his question, the main hall of the Penang Caring Society Complex reverberated with the bawling of Gerakan supporters to the extent that Lim could not be heard even through the public address system.

Lim, then obviously inflamed, continued to fan the politically-charged emotions of the Gerakan supporters with more incivilities including "hooligans", "samseng" (gangsters), "bodoh" (stupid) and "Kalau tak tahu, diam!" (If you don't know anything, keep quiet!).

This is believed to be the first public debate between DAP and Gerakan, which are long-time political enemies in Penang. It was titled "Three Expressways and Undersea Tunnel".

A total of 572 chairs were arrayed in the hall, divided equally into two sides. All 572 chairs were filled, with another 50 people standing at the far end of the hall. Outside, about 500 people watched the debate on a large screen.

Gerakan's debater, secretary-general Datuk Liang Teck Meng, kept his cool most of the time, even when the moderator stopped him for spending his one minute meant for questioning without asking any.

In his closing speech, Liang urged the Penang Government to invite the Auditor-General to audit the Penang undersea tunnel project, but his proposal was drowned out by the crowd.

Besides the noise, however, there were no violent incidents and the crowd left the complex about 11pm.


Across The Star Online