PETALING JAYA: As the Rantau by-election draws closer, Bersih 2.0 has urged Umno deputy president Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan to participate in an upcoming debate challenge organised by the electoral watchdog.
According to Bersih 2.0 chairman Thomas Fann, the debate will be a platform for all prospective candidates to state their position and commitment for the state constituency.
"It's not a debate where you have a winner or loser, or candidates will be put in an awkward position.
"It's a platform for all candidates to speak up," he said to reporters during a press conference at Bersih 2.0's headquarters in 8 Avenue here on Friday (March 8).
Barisan Nasional candidates had refused to participate in debates organised by the electoral watchdog in the previous Cameron Highlands and Semenyih by-elections.
Pakatan Harapan, on the other hand, was present during the Cameron Highlands by-election, but not the Semenyih by-election last March 2.
Fann stressed that all candidates in the upcoming Rantau by-election should partake in debates, as being able to argue in debates is a skill needed by an elected representative.
"Why are debates important? Because that's what the people elect you to do. A criteria for any political candidate is their ability to debate and argue their points.
"We will continue that in Rantau. We will invite political parties to accept our invitation and have a debate for the by-election," he said.
In the recently-concluded Semenyih by-election, Bersih 2.0 decided to call off the debate, which was slated to be aired live on national television, after Pakatan and Barisan refused to participate.
The debate was subsequently re-organised by Bersih 2.0, after it reached a new agreement with Astro to televise another session hosted by Malay daily Sinar Harian, which featured only PSM's Nik Aziz Afiq Abdul and independent candidate Kuan Chee Heng.
The by-election was triggered following the Federal Court decision to uphold an earlier ruling by an Election Court to nullify the results of Rantau.
In GE14, Mohamad won the state seat in Negri Sembilan unopposed.
Election Court judge Azimah Omar allowed an election petition filed by Dr S. Streram, who was denied entry to submit his nomination form as he did not have a tag or pass.
Dr Streram had sought for a by-election to be held for the seat on grounds that Mohamad's election was not valid.
The EC has announced that nomination will be on March 30 and polling on April 13. Early voting for Rantau is fixed for April 9.