Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim has again thrown down the gauntlet, challenging Prime Minister Naji Abdul Razak to an open debate.
Najib's response - that it is not the Malaysian political culture to hold debates - is just another excuse to avoid the challenge, Anwar said.
“Does he want to debate or not? He has been organising debates in all schools.... students are told to debate... The prize is the Prime Minister's Debate Cup, yet the prime minister says it is not our culture (to debate). Then what is being taught in schools?
Anwar was speaking to the media after delivering a speech last night at the launch of a book entitled ‘Islam dan Melayu: Martabat Umat dan Daulat Rakyat’, written by Siddiq Fadzil.
Also present were Anwar's wife and PKR president Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, their daughter and party vice-president Nurul Izzah, and deputy president Azmin Ali.
Najib last Friday brushed aside the series of debates between BN and Pakatan Rakyat representatives.
"It is not necessarily a culture, depending on the situation. If there is a need for debate among leaders, then there can be debates. But it is not a political culture as a whole in our country's system," he had said.
Anwar also disagreed with Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin Abu Bakar's argument that Parliament is already a debate platform between the two leaders.
“Debate... when did Najib come (to Parliament)? (Does he) want to debate or not? (He) gave the excuse that there is already debate in Parliament, (but there is) none.
“Is cursing people, beating up people, murder and insulting Malay culture (part of debate)? Abusing the media to victimise people, is this Malay culture?”
Responding to Dr Mahathir Mohamad's remark that toppling the government through 'Arab Spring' style protests should not happen in Malaysia, Anwar said the former prime minister was still living in the past.
“Mahathir represents the past ... Our friend Mahathir still feels the loss of (former Egypt president) Hosni (Mubarak) although the people of Egypt are happy about it,” he added.