KOTA KINABALU May 7, 2012: Democracy Sabah or DESAH will focus its efforts to ensure straight fights between Barisan Nasional (BN) and the Opposition in ten constituencies in the 13th General Election.
“We will start with the parliamentary constituencies and for now focus on ten constituencies such as Penampang and Sepanggar,” the civil society group’s deputy chairman, Tan Michael Liew, said.
DESAH would like to work in more constituencies but as the polls loom nearer, they will focus on ten areas initially, he said, adding that DESAH would be organising public debates in those constituencies to find out which political party had the strongest support there.
Liew said this when he and several DESAH members were promoting the group and its objectives to the public at Gaya Street here.
DESAH is a civil society group formed recently to campaign for one-to-one contests in the coming general elections. It is headed by former State Secretary Tan Sri Simon Sipaun.
Meanwhile, two opposition parties have confirmed their participation in DESAH’s first debate which will be held in Penampang on May 9, to determine which is more suited to take on the incumbent Barisan
Nasional for the Penampang parliamentary seat in the upcoming polls.
According to him, the State Reform Party (STAR) and DAP have confirmed their participation in the debate which will be held at the Penampang library at 7pm, to be moderated by UiTM lecturer Arnold Puyok.
The inaugural debate in Penampang would include a poll of about 1,000 randomly selected voters to ask them which party should take on the incumbent.
Liew said yesterday that they hoped to stage a similar debate in Sepanggar later this month and STAR had also confirmed its interest to participate in that event.
“Our hope is to hold debates in at least ten parliamentary seats so that voters will have an idea as to who is better suited for a contest against the incumbent in a particular constituency,” he added.
“The theme of the debate is essentially whether a local or a national party is better to contest the seat,” Liew added.
The debates would consist of several stages, beginning with the representatives being given equal time to explain their respective platforms on relevant issues and followed by challenging the other candidates.
“Each candidate will be given time to answer those challenges directed at him or her. The debate will then allow members of the audience to pose questions to the representatives,” he added.
To the question if DESAH would be disappointed if the straight contests do not take place, Liew said that it would not be because “what is important is setting up a platform for the system to be applied in the next election.”