SEMENYIH: The debate between the by-election candidates organised by Bersih 2.0 has been called off after Pakatan Harapan and Barisan Nasional declined to participate.
The debate was scheduled for Monday at the University of Nottingham.
The electoral watchdog said debates were a good platform for candidates to reach out to voters as conventional events such as dinners and free concerts may run the risk of violating the Election Offences Act 1954.
“We decided that it would not be meaningful to continue with the debate which would have been aired live on national television without the participation of the candidates from the two main coalitions.
“Their refusal to debate raises questions of their suitability to represent the people of Semenyih, as one of the criteria to be an elected representative is the ability to debate in the state assembly,” Bersih 2.0 said in a statement.
The electoral watchdog said another key criterion to be an elected representative was the courage to be scrutinised when speaking in public.
“Bersih 2.0 does not suggest that both (candidates) are cowardly or are lacking in debating skills, but many of the Semenyih voters who are unable to attend local ceramah will not be able to judge them otherwise,” it said.
It added that the excuse given by Pakatan and Barisan for declining to the debate was “insulting” the other two candidates who accepted it.
Bersih 2.0 thanked PSM’s Nik Aziz Afiq Abdul and independent candidate Kuan Chee Heng for their willingness to debate.