Lim Kit Siang is better off spending his remaining days in the political arena, keeping the government in check rather than engaging in a fruitless debate with a former leader, S Arutchelvan said today.
The PSM central committee member in a statement dubbed the DAP veteran's initial agreement to debate former prime minister Najib Abdul Razak a stunt which ultimately backfired.
"Lim's decision to withdraw from the debate with Najib is a good move.
"In fact, Lim's suggestion to fix the debate title to 'How Malaysia became a global kleptocracy' was lopsided, and he expected Najib to disagree and back down," Arutchelvan said.
The DAP veteran clearly did not expect Najib to agree, he added.
"Najib has nothing to lose, and nothing to be ashamed about anymore, and thus, he agreed. This trapped Lim in his own game.
"Lim is a local political giant with much wisdom, but in this issue, he miscalculated by forgetting that Najib is no longer the prime minister with power. Najib today is like a caged animal which would do anything to break out of its shackles."
Yesterday, Lim announced that he would not debate with Najib, claiming that it could be used to stir up racial sentiments.
In reply, Najib claimed that he received information that Pakatan Harapan was planning to pull the plug on the event, to begin with, as there were concerns within Harapan and DAP that Lim could be defeated.
'Lim should keep gov't in check'
While expressing admiration for Lim's political experience and contribution, Arutchelvan said the veteran, however, should stop focusing his attacks on Najib, who has been rendered powerless by electoral loss.
"Continuously bashing a political opponent who has lost power will only backfire.
"I think Lim will get more credit if he uses his remaining days in his political career to keep Harapan, and Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad, in check," he said, adding that in the current line-up, only Lim is experienced enough to question the prime minister.
PKR president Anwar is careful in not crossing lines with Mahathir, as he is the prime minister-in-waiting, while the other Harapan leaders are too "junior" to question the prime minister, Arutchelvan said.
"If (the late DAP veteran) Karpal Singh was still alive, many would have expected him to play a principled role (in reprimanding Harapan) if the coalition makes a mistake.
"Lim should pave the way in leading the country in its 'Malaysia Baru' quest, and not get entangled in old politics."
The debate was first mooted by Najib in a recent media interview due to Lim constantly attacking him in media statements on the 1MDB scandal.
Following this, Lim accepted the dare and mooted the kleptocracy title for the debate.
Najib subsequently agreed to the title but said that in fairness, other topics must also be included.