The debate with Dr. Naguib Alatas

Press Statement by DAP Organising Secretary, Lim Kit Siang, on 12.11.68:

The press has asked me for comments on Dr. Naguib Alatas’ statement today concerning the debate.

When I accepted Dr. Naguib Alatas’ open challenge to me to a debate with him on Gerakan’s cultural policy, I said I was prepared to do it ‘any time, any place and anywhere.’

I had suggested that the debate should be at the Chinese Assembly Hall, because it had three times the seating capacity as the MARA Auditorium, which could take in less than 500 people. I had felt sure that Dr. Naguib Alatas, with his great store of learning, would want more people to hear his words of wisdom and culture.

As Dr. Naguib Alatas insists on the MARA Auditorium, I am perfectly agreeable. It is rather childish for him to make charges like I am trying to run away from the debate.

Although the time, date and place have been agreed upon, the procedures of the debate are still unresolved. Dr. Naguib Alatas wants to dictate terms and conditions regarding the procedures of the debate. I must confess I have not expected a scholar, like Dr. Naguib Alatas, to be so unreasonable. Who, in the first place, gave him the right to think he could dictate terms?

Dr. Naguib Alatas wants to debate for five hours or more. Has he asked himself how many members of the public would want to attend a debate from 10 a.m. till 3 p.m., or even after, without his lunch? In the first place, who will sit through a five-hour long debate? Or is the whole intention of the insistence of five-hours to frighten away listeners?

I am one of those who believe that if a speaker cannot express what he has to say in half an hour, he has nothing much to say.

I had said that I have no intention to go to the debate on Nov. 24 to argue over procedures. If the procedures are not agreed before hand, it is unlikely that five hours of argument can even settle it.

The procedures must therefore be agreed on before the debate. I have asked Mr. D. R. Seenivasagam, the chairman for the debate, to call a meeting of both parties to settle the procedures and length of the debate.

I do not see any difficulty in reaching prior agreement on the procedures and length of the debate, if Dr. Syed Naguib will descend from his Olympian academic heights, and act as an ordinary human being.

Audited by: Kieran L. N.