I know this is a bit too late. Being a lazy armchair analyst myself, would not want to miss out from commenting on the Famous Anwar vs Shabery debate.
General consensus is that Anwar won the debate while Shabery won respect from all quarters for standing up against Anwar. Shabery should stand for any of the post available in the upcoming UMNO elections and I'm quite sure that with his current standing, after this debate, he will easily find himself in the highest decision making body of UMNO by end of the year.
Many also commented that the actual winner is the people of Malaysia. This includes some major mainstream newspapers who claims that this is a victory for democracy. I'm not sure what this got to do with democracy. It's was just a change of venue and audience, from claims and counter claims that these politicians are good at, only that this time, it's face to face rather than out in the padangs and stadiums shouting out their point of view.
I found that the arguements and questions were quite weak and responses were never straight to the point and at times, both of them had to cheek to claim of lack of time when in fact they were beating around the bush.
I also glaringly found that both Anwar and Shabery missed the main points. Let me elaborate below;
1. Both spoke about Petrol Price and it's relative impact on rising prices and inflation etc. What Petrol price got to do with Rising prices and inflation? No one spoke about diesel price! Rise in diesel price caused transportation cost to go up, which will in turn have impact on prices of goods and public transportation services.
2. Shabery did not speak about rebates given to motorist to counter Anwar's arguement.
3. No one touched the fact that Diesel is still being subsidised via fleet cards issued to transportation companies and fisherman.
4. Shabery simply failed to articulate government's policy of redistribution of subsidies, i.e subsidy and assistance given to the most deserving in the form of rebates for motorist , fleet cards to transportation companies and fisherman etc.
5. Shabery also failed to provide any further measures being taken by the government eg Fuel Subsidies for taxis were announced just a week later and more announcement to come via Budget 2009.
6. Shabery failed to highlight that no other country has reduced fuel prices. He only spoke about nett oil producing countries with high inflation.
7. Shabery also failed to link subsidies to widening budget deficits which will have impact on country's sovereign ratings among creditors.
8. Anwar simply argued on the wastages by TNB and IPPs. Shabery missed to point out that windfall tax has been imposed on the IPPs thus cancelling out Anwar's arguement.
9. Anwar appear not to realise or rather not aware that any forced changes to IPP agreement and even the imposition of Windfall tax has been severely criticised by the market as they the fear impact on our bond market.
10. No one spoke at lenght about rising food prices due to low production, rise in commodity prices, climate issues as a separate reason for inflation. Both linked inflation to rise of fuel prices.
11. Corruption and wastages by government was a weak arguement without being supported by facts and figures. Even prices in Hong Kong, Singapore and scandinavian countries, known for their 'clean' image, rose.
12. I think Anwar chose, for this moment and for the purpose of publicity, to forget numerous advise by IMF and World Bank and economic experts that subsidies are not sustainable.
13. Anwar claims that we may discover more oil reserves when Shabery argued that we maybe a nett importer in 2015. I wonder if Anwar has a crystal ball in his hands or rather his segambut home.
14. Anwar failed to explain what he would do if Malaysia becomes a nett importer in 2015 or earlier. Will he increase the fuel price by few hundred percent or continue to subsidise until bulk of the national budget goes to fuel subsidy rather than education and healthcare?
15. Anwar also failed to explain (Shabery and the panelist failed to ask) what measure he would take if the fuel price rises further to USD 200 per barrel.
To me, the debate was just a political duel which excited supporter from both parties and chance for Abdullah to claim that there's more democracy during his current term.
I would rather think that this was a waste of funds and time as nothing significant came out of this debate. Those who missed the debate : never mind, you did not really miss anything and yes , the fuel price stays.
PS. Anwar was arrested the next day and he claimed that he was under severe pain after being made to sleep on cement floor. But how can he stand for hours on the stage? I have heard advice from expert physicians that for those with back problems, it would only be good to sleep on hard surface rather than a Dreamland mattress.