Anwar insists on debate, tells Bernama to recant report

By The Malaysian Insider

Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim has insisted that he wants to debate Datuk Seri Najib Razak on Pakatan Rakyat’s (PR) 100-day plan, and called on national news agency Bernama to recant a report to the contrary.

Bernama early this morning quoted an unnamed Anwar aide as denying the report but stopped short of making a correction.

In its four-paragraph report, Bernama quoted Anwar as saying, “I emphasise here that I am not budging from my previous statement as well as the intention contained in the official letter of my desire to invite Yang (Amat) Berhormat the prime minister to an open debate in the interest of the whole Malaysian population.”

But it did not report the entire three-paragraph statement by Anwar.

“I hope the national news agency (Bernama) will take back and correct its report dated January 19 2011 headlined, I DIDN’T INVITE PM TO DEBATE, ONLY TO DISCUSS, SAYS ANWAR,” the PKR de facto leader had said in his statement received at 1.07am this morning.

In its report, Bernama maintained that Anwar told reporters that it was to be a friendly open discussion involving the prime minister and himself, representing the opposition pact.

The six-paragraph report also quoted Anwar as saying, “But they disagreed. Before this, we asked for it to be through the media. Yesterday, a letter followed. The response is not that good.”

Bernama also reported Anwar as saying he had wanted to have a discussion with Najib because the prime minister was responsible for the economy.

He said the discussion would not be a waste of time because it would explain economic policies to the people, the report added.

On Tuesday, Anwar had repeated his challenge as Najib had not responded positively to his earlier request made over a week ago.

“I hope Datuk Seri accepts this challenge as I am confident that both Datuk Seri’s arguments and mine, as the opposition leader, will boost efforts to strengthen democracy, promote the unrestricted dissemination of information and restore the country’s economy,” he wrote.

Anwar reiterated that the debate topics would centre on economic issues and initiatives in Pakatan Rakyat’s 100-day reform promises, as listed in its heavily-promoted “Buku Jingga”.

“These issues have grown increasingly urgent due to the current rise in the cost of living as well as the rising prices of goods which greatly burdens the people. For the first time in history, the country’s debt has also jumped [to] more than 50 per cent (of GDP). 

“This debate is very important and is of national interest,” he said.