PETALING JAYA: PKR secretary-general Rafizi Ramli has challenged Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin to a debate on Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s sodomy verdict, in the wake of Umno’s nationwide roadshow on the case featuring lawyer Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah.
Rafizi said yesterday he was taking up Communications and Multimedia Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Shabery Cheek’s offer last week to host the debate.
“As such, I welcome Shabery’s invitation by challenging Khairy Jamaluddin, the Umno youth chief, to debate on the political conspiracy and verdict of Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim,” Rafizi told a press conference at the PKR headquarters.
He said he is keen to “dispel” the media’s misrepresentation of the sodomy case and urged Ahmad Shabery not to back out of hosting the debate.
“I also urge Khairy Jamaluddin to not back down and bravely come forward to clear Umno’s name, which is already tarnished and is seen as the mastermind behind the verdict against Anwar.”
Rafizi said he had chosen Khairy as his opponent as the youth and sports minister had initiated Muhammad Shafee’s ongoing nationwide road show through Umno Youth.
But he added that he is open to debating with anyone from Umno, even Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan, and that he is armed with all the facts of the case as he had followed it closely for years.
“I’ve spent the last five or six years attending every hearing, I’ve seen all the submissions and I think I’ve memorised all the arguments. So I have no hesitation to face anyone willing to debate on the case,” he said.
But Rafizi added that the format of the debate and the moderator must be agreed upon by both sides, and it should be telecast live so that it cannot be edited.
Last Tuesday, Khairy said Umno would organise a nationwide road show with Muhammad Shafee to explain the Federal Court judgment on Anwar’s sodomy case now that the judicial process had ended.
Khairy said the party had been accused of and criticised for orchestrating a political conspiracy against Anwar since he was first charged in 2008, but that it had kept silent all these years.
“We have kept silent for six years because the trial was in progress, fearing that we would be in contempt. We waited for the case to be over,” he told some 300 people at a dialogue in Petaling Jaya. “Now that the case is over, do you expect us, as a political party, to keep quiet?”
Asked whether Anwar had sought a royal pardon from the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, Rafizi said he had not.
“No. For the royal pardon, if you want to avoid [the Permatang Pauh] seat from being vacated, the deadline is today (yesterday). I was informed Anwar did not give any instruction for a royal pardon. He is innocent,” said Rafizi.
He said the party would continue focusing on its international campaign to free Anwar, and that it had met with Indonesian lawmakers and Australian senator Nick Xenophon. — The Malaysian Insider
This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on February 24, 2015.