I refer to the recent ruling by Dewan Rakyat Speaker YB Tan Sri Pandikar Amin Mulia on YB Tony Pua's challenge to debate me on “live” television. I have the utmost respect for the Speaker and his wisdom to safeguard the integrity of the august House and proceedings of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC).
YB Tony Pua challenged me to a “live” televised debate on 29 October 2015. On the same day, I accepted YB Tony Pua's challenge with one condition – "In order to maintain the integrity of the PAC's investigation, and to avoid any conflict of interest, YB Tony Pua must first resign from the PAC". When YB Tony Pua lacked the courage to do the right thing and resign from the PAC, on 31 October 2015, I withdrew the condition. I accepted his challenge with zero conditions as YB Tony Pua has made so many wrong allegations about 1MDB and me personally, that I wanted to publicly debate with and correct him.
YB Tony Pua has now confirmed he will not resign from the PAC and that he will no longer debate me. He has chosen to hide behind his PAC membership, to run away from a showdown he aggressively harassed me to accept, which I agreed to with zero conditions.
In hindsight, I suspect YB Tony Pua's challenge was more politically motivated than a desire for the truth to prevail. As a two-term MP, surely he is well versed in Parliamentary procedures and knew all along, that the debate could not take place.
I note that YB Tony Pua's coalition has now offered YB Rafizi Ramli as replacement debater. The obvious question is why doesn't YB Rafizi Ramli replace YB Tony Pua in the PAC, so that YB Tony Pua can debate me? It was specifically YB Tony Pua who challenged me. He made it personal, and used mocking words like "I will not punch him", "my allegations", "embarrassing me" etc.
YB Tony Pua issued the debate challenge and I accepted, with no conditions. There was never any question of debate with Pakatan Harapan, which has now appeared out of nowhere, in a desperate and last-minute attempt, to save YB Tony Pua from embarrassment. These are clearly political games which I, as a professional, will not be drawn into.
I respect YB Rafizi Ramli as a worthy opponent. He is a good debater, orator and gentleman. I enjoyed sparring with him in our younger days. However, the Speaker is the ultimate authority on all matters relating to Parliament. He has made his ruling on my responsibility as a PAC witness and that any debate should only take place after the PAC hearings.
As for the 10 questions that YB Tony Pua allegedly wanted to raise in the debate, I hereby confirm that 1MDB will respond to these questions, at the appropriate time and in the appropriate forum, including a lawful authority such as the PAC.
1MDB reiterates our readiness to appear in front of the PAC. In the meantime, my team and I remain focused and committed to implementing the 1MDB rationalisation plan.
Arul Kanda, President & Group Executive Director