Wednesday, February 1, 2012
Rafizi Ramli VS Khairy Jamaluddin (DEBAT)
THE KHAIRY-RAFIZI DEBATE IN LONDON
After the debate, there was only one conclusion from the attendees:
"Rafizi was good, but Khairy was better"
This was the considered opinion of various members of the audience when asked to comment on the dynamic battle of wits between UMNO Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin (left) and PKR’s strategic director Rafizi Ramli.
What a shame that Malaysians at home missed a lively, stimulating and exciting debate because this is what intellectual discourse is all about. No slanging matches. No name-calling atypical of the usual parliamentary exchanges across the floor of the Dewan Rakyat.
The lively banter between Rafizi and Khairy, was an inspiration for Malaysia’s youth and debates like this should be replicated in Malaysia. Both are products of British universities and the civility that they showed, with the enthusiastic crowd egging them on, should prove to the old guard in UMNO that debates in the public realm are healthy and not to be feared. Although not in the Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich league, for Malaysia it was a brilliant first attempt.
The two contenders presented their arguments at the first event of 2012 organised by the United Kingdom and Eire Council for Malaysian Students. Their topic was ‘Public Policy: Vision 2020, Is Malaysia moving towards the right direction?
Students had sacrificed their Sunday to hear the other speakers, Rafidah Aziz, Marina Mahathir,Pang Khee Teik, Yunis Raiss, Karim Raslan, Zainah Anwar, Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad and Dr Carool Kersten.
Without doubt the star-attraction was the "Khairy and Rafizi" segment. Attendance was low in the morning but by the time their session was due, the conference hall was full and spilled over into an adjoining room.
The rivals were like chalk and cheese. The gregarious and gung-ho Khairy looked smart and businesslike in his bespoke suit. Tall and dark, he presented a start contrast to the affable and boyish Rafizi, whose electric blue jumper, the colours of Keadilan, showed an immature and a young politician getting into battle without any sound preparation.
If Khairy seemed like the ‘Action Man’ figure, Rafizi presented an image of a young politician trying his luck in the big boys league. If Khairy looked like he was a notch above the crowd, Rafizi in his smart casual attire, appeared more lay back and approachable.
Many familiar with Khairy’s previous talks, opined that he would probably be the better orator in both Malay and English, and doubted if Rafizi could match or even come close to the UMNO Youth leaders debating skills. They were proven right.
Sincerity from Khairy Jamaluddin
Throughout the debate, Rafizi failed to gain any advantage over Khairy. Rafizi appeared to be trying too hard. He probably expected a thrashing on the economic mismanagement of Selangor, Kelantan and Kedah and was disorientated when Khairy ignored issues like the economic mismanagement of the PR ruled states.
Khairy secured an early impact by acknowledging the role played by former PM Dr Mahathir Mohamed, who he credited with giving the nation a sense of direction. Khairy summarized the state of the economy and said that if Vision 2020 were to be achieved, the target set for the annual rate of economic growth should be maintained and all the Prime Minister projects should be supported bipartisan for the benefit of the country.
Khairy’s talk was sprinkled with facts which were easily grasped because they related to the man in the street.He spoke about the hardship of the people and the various programs implemented by the government such as BR1M, PR1MA and book vouchers etc.
Rafizi failed to downplay Khairy’s arguments of the economy and various programs implemented by the government. Rafizi however managed to pepper the crowd at dizzying speed, with various promises with what PR would do when they are in power, abolishment of toll, lowering of petrol prices, lowering of essential items and what not.
Was this deliberate? Was his intention to confuse or had he made a mistake? There was too much to absorb in one go. It was hard to verify that is PR able to make good on all this promises, or was it just a “promise” to win in the next General Election?
Acknowledging that he was speaking from the heart, Khairy's arguments came in easily digestible portions whereas Rafizi’s use of Buku Jingga appeared to be blinding the attendees with empty promises and made him appear wooden, as if his speech was scripted.
The UMNO Youth leader repeatedly challenged Rafizi on unity in Pakatan Rakyat and quipped: How solid is the union of PR?
Using Kedah, Khairy attacked the Menteri Besar’s stance on the Universities and University Colleges Act (UUCA), his treatment of students and the inconsistencies within Pakatan. Rafizi endorsed Khairy’s assertion that Malaysia always manages to bounce back in times of hardship only because of the resilience of its people and the government of Barisan Nasional (BN).
Khairy defended the BN government and featured Najib"s reforms, the ISA repeal, the proposed amendment to UUCA, Malaysia’s liberal society and the fact that UMNO was committed to free and fair elections.
To end the debate, One political observer said: "Khairy won on style and substance. Rafizi was squashed. A student said, "Khairy 1, Rafizi 0"
But for now, it’s game, set and go up till the 13th General Election