PETALING JAYA: Barisan Nasional’s Eric See-To Choong has described as “mystifying” DAP’s Petaling Jaya Utara MP Tony Pua reportedly calling him a “nobody” in rejecting his debate challenge on Penang’s undersea tunnel project.

The Barisan Nasional Strategic Communications (BNSC) deputy director accused DAP, which leads the Pakatan Harapan (PH) Penang government, of not daring to stand up to scrutiny over the allegedly overpriced project.

“When BN declines a debate challenge, Pakatan claims BN have something to hide or are cowards. But when Pakatan declines a BN debate challenge, Pakatan claims debates are to cheat the people,” he said.

He also claimed that before he became an MP, Pua had challenged then Umno deputy youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin to a debate in May 2007, after having made a statement that the civil service needed to be drastically cut as it had become a dumping ground for unemployed Malay graduates.

When Khairy declined, Pua who was then an economic advisor to the DAP secretary-general, went ahead to hold the “debate” and left an empty chair there for Khairy, See-To said.

“When Khairy declined, he did not call Tony Pua a nobody despite Tony’s lack of position then but said this was Tony’s attempt to divert attention from his racist remark,” he added in a statement yesterday.

On Friday, See-To had accepted a debate challenge from PKR vice-president Rafizi Ramli made last month, on condition that Pua agrees to debate him separately on the tunnel project which he alleged cost up to RM15 billion.

Pua had responded yesterday by saying that See-To was not a minister, deputy minister, MP or state assemblyman. “So, you are a nobody in politics,” he said.

“Anything you say in a statement or in a debate, is completely deniable by your political bosses,” Pua added.

See-To also said yesterday that he was giving Rafizi three days to convince Pua to take up the debate challenge.

“After three days Rafizi should just get his Invoke company to organise both the debates at a time suitable for both of us. Rafizi and I shall have two debates instead of one – with or without any DAP presence,” he said.

Meanwhile, Rafizi yesterday accused See-To of giving a “twisted response” to his original offer for a debate on the economy.

The Pandan MP claimed that See-To’s move to set the condition about Pua was an attempt to confuse the public.

“He thinks he is being most clever – running away from debating with me by confusing other people,” Rafizi said in a statement.

“He wants to show that he is brave because he is bold enough to debate with two people at one go,” he added.

Rafizi said he had in the past invited other BN politicians to debate him, including Prime Minister Najib Razak, cabinet minister Rahman Dahlan, current Umno youth chief Khairy and his deputy Khairul Azwan Harun.

All of them gave various excuses to avoid debating, Rafizi said, adding that he was not angry or affected in any way by Umno elements taunting him by calling him a “sotong” (squid).

“The people of Malaysia know if they should vote in politicians who are cowards and run away from a challenge,” he said.-FMT NEWS-

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