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Monthly Archives:October 2015

Team Malaysia Creates Malaysian Debating History & Ranks First In The World

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Kuala Lumpur, 28 July 2018 – The World Schools Debating Championship (WSDC) held in Zagreb, Croatia has successfully concluded and with it, our national team came home to Malaysia bearing record-breaking news.

Team Malaysia this year was represented by Kishen Sivabalan (18, KYUEM), Kuberan Hansrajh Kumaresan (16, Nobel International School), Joshua George Varughese (18, MCKL), Quah Po Eic (17, SMK Kota Kemuning), Vee Nis Ling (18, International School of Penang). In preparation for WSDC 2018, our national team underwent gruelling training sessions with their coaches, Kelviin Pillay Manuel (23, Brickfields Asia College), Patrick Cheang (25, formerly of University of Malaya) and Ameera Natasha Moore (25, formerly of International Islamic University Malaysia)

With 8 preliminary rounds, Team Malaysia went up against nations from all over the world and breezed through the preliminary rounds finishing on 7 wins out of 8 rounds and collecting 21 ballots out of 24 possible ballots. Team Malaysia was only defeated once in the first round against Scotland on a 2-1 split and proceeded to win all remaining rounds, beating the likes of Indonesia, Israel, Northern Ireland, Wales, Denmark, Canada & South Africa. With 7 wins out of 8 rounds and with the highest number of ballots collected in the tournament, Team Malaysia ranks 1st in the World Schools Debating Championship, a feat never achieved by Team Malaysia before. Qualified to compete in the elimination rounds, Team Malaysia went up against Australia but unfortunately lost on a 1-4 split.


Not going home empty-handed, speakers from our national team won several top speaker awards in WSDC 2018. Kuberan Hansrajh Kumaresan was awarded the 10th Overall Best Speaker in the World as well as the 6th ESL (English as a Second Language) Best Speaker. On top of that,  Kishen Sivabalan, as well as Joshua George Varughese, is tied at 10th for the ESL Best Speaker Award.


Team Malaysia this year has solidified their position as a debating powerhouse in the international debating arena. And this journey would also not be possible without the sponsorship from UEM Group Berhad and Haro Sports & Entertainment. Team Malaysia, as well as MIDP, is extremely grateful for the support that is given to our national team.


MIDP is recognized as the national debate expert under the Ministry of Education and is responsible for selecting, training and funding the Malaysian WSDC Team to attend the World Schools Debating Championships since 2012. Fast forward to the present, Malaysia has now climbed the WSDC World Rankings and is currently ranked Top 10 in the world. Malaysia has also climbed the ranks of other countries such as Canada, England and Australia under MIDP and has been promoted from Grade ‘B’ to ‘Grade A’, which is the highest tier of international school debating.

Malaysian National Intervarsity Debating Championship 2016 – Joint Press Release

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For immediate release


200 Students from 17 universities and colleges compete in third iteration of championship

Kuala Lumpur, 27 November 2016 – Asia Pacific University of Technology & Innovation (APU) and the Malaysian Institute for Debate & Public Speaking (MIDP), co-organised the third Malaysian National Intervarsity Debating Championship, with the support of the Ministry of Youth and Sports Malaysia.

The primary role of the championship is giving university and college students a competitive platform to showcase their skills in critical thinking, knowledge of a vast array of topics as well as their confidence in debating and public speaking. The championship attracted some of Malaysia’s most talented and brightest young minds including Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM), International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM), and Universiti Malaya, among others.

The championship traditionally showcased the best in what Malaysia’s debate community has to offer. Last year’s winning team of Mohd Mifzal Mohd Murshid Kieron and Jasmine Ho, representing Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM) had gone on to perform exceptionally well in this year’s World Universities Debating Championship in Thessaloniki, Greece by ranking second overall. Last year’s Finals Best Speaker, Mubarrat Wassey from International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM) was recently awarded the Overall Best Speaker in the 2016 Cambridge Inter-Varsity Debate, one of the most prestigious debate tournaments in the world.

The championship tested the participants in their current knowledge and understanding of the economic, social, political topics as well as trending global issues covering social harmony, welfare, old age, amongst other things.

The championship followed the British Parliamentary format, which saw teams of two (2) debaters each, debate in five (5) preliminary rounds. Each debate will have four (4) teams representing Opening Government, Opening Opposition, Closing Government and Closing Opposition.

The prizes include the Challenge Trophy, Trophies and Cash Prizes for various categories including Champions, Finals Best Speaker, Overall Best Speaker, Top Ten Best Speakers, Best Adjudicator and Finalists.

As organisers for the Malaysian Nationals Intervarsity Championship for the third consecutive year, the Malaysian Institute for Debate and Public Speaking (MIDP) expressed pride in fulfilling their promise to organise the championship annually, and hope that the championship will continue to give local debaters exposure to meet the international standards of debating, and inspire other youths to take up debating.

“The Asia Pacific University of Technology & Innovation has consistently and continuously invested in, and supported debating as a co-curricular activity. The university’s debate society celebrates its 7th anniversary this year with accolades to be proud of including ranking 24th at the World Universities Debating Championship 2015. We truly believe that critical thinking, speaking and presentation skills are one of the core pillars that formulate the success of students in the future. We always have and will continue to support the growth of debating in Malaysia, and would like to express our gratitude to those who make this possible especially the Malaysian Institute for Debate and Public Speaking for their initiatives, and the Ministry of Youth & Sports for their support” said Mr Gurpardeep Singh, Vice President, Operations, APIIT Education Group.

“For the third edition of the championship, our focus was to extend participation to as many institutions of higher education as we can in order to deliver a truly diverse and inclusive national debating championship. I would personally like thank the Asia Pacific University for co-organising this championship, and to the Ministry of Youth and Sports for their continued support of the Malaysian public speaking and debate community” said Ahmed Faris, Chief Executive Officer of Malaysian Institute for Debate and Public Speaking.




Debate Leadership Award: Mifzal Mohammed, UT MARA
Debating Institution of the Year: Universiti Teknologi MARA
Outstanding Adjudicator Award: Mifzal Mohammed
Outstanding Achievement of the Year: Ameera Moore & Mubarrat Wassey, IIUM
Contingent Achievement of the Year: International Islamic University Malaysia
Newcomer of the Year Amrit Agastia: Taylor’s University
Debater of the Year: Mubarrat Wassey, IIUM


First: Mubarrat Wassey, IIUM
Second: Ameera Natasha Moore, IIUM
Third: Mifzal Mohammed, UT MARA
Fourth: Jainah Jaafar, UT MARA
Fifth: Jasmine Ho Abdullah, UT MARA
Sixth: Amrit Agastia, Taylor’s University
Seventh: Izzat Arif, UT MARA
Tied Eighth: Shitab Daiyan Akash, IIUM
Tied Eighth: Felice Wong Jing-Yi, Taylor’s University
Tied Eighth: Leeroy Ting, University of Malaya


Finals Best Speaker: Amrit Agastia, Taylor’s University
Champion: UT MARA A (Mifzal Mohammed & Jasmine Ho Abdullah)
Finalist: Brickfields Asia College (Kelvin Manuel & Wesley)
Finalist: Taylor’s University (Amrit Agastia & Felice Wong Jing-Yi)
Finalist: UT MARA B (Jainah Jaafar & Izzat Arif)

How Debates Can Teach Us Empathy

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By Terence Aaron

In the face of Hillary Clinton’s defeat, in the United States, a war of words has emerged on the liberal bench. Everyone around the world, even non-Americans were looking for cracks in the Clinton campaign to see what broke the bone.

On one side, we have a group of people calling Clinton’s campaign strategy; cold. According to this camp, the presidential candidate failed to address the economic anxieties of white rural working class voters. This has led them to turn to a candidate they hated and found questionable but offered what Michael Moore in July 2016 described “a legal hand grenade to the establishment.

In their eyes, not all Trump voters are racist. These were the same voters that voted for Obama in 2008 and 2012. Now, there are problems with this argument. But what leftists like Michael Moore are saying is that urban liberals, especially the economic-elite should empathise with people whose economic fears are taking a higher priority over a candidate’s bigotry. (Whether those fears needed are legitimate or not is a different story).

On the flip side, Clinton’s supporters condemned white rural voters (including many who were not working class, were college educated and came from affluent neighbourhoods) for being myopic. These white voters like many times in history decided to be on the side lines. They decided to stay out of the tough battles and voted for their own interests (especially one that had no guarantee). To quote Charles Gaba’s tweet, “Not all Trump supporters are racist, but all of them decided that racism isn’t a deal-breaker. End of story.”

The sentiment that Gaba had was that these rural white working class voters thought their anxiety was more important than the legitimate fears of the LGBT community on what VP-elect Pence would do. The spike in hate-crimes ever since Trump announced his Mexican hating platform and Trump’s association with white supremacist and former Goldman Sachs banker, Stephen Bannon. To the minorities and victims of social injustices, white rural voters were the ones who needed to have empathy for minorities who have been left behind by white America.

This was an introspective battle on who should be the one doing soul searching and choose to empathize with the other. It ranged from Brexit, the Colombian-FARC peace referendum and to elections in Malaysia (especially the Sarawak state elections). The US Presidential election is just another manifestation of this issue.

Regardless of where you stand on this finger pointing war, the underlying theme here was empathy

Slaves of the Algorithm

The question is can we teach empathy and if yes, how do you do it?

To answer that, we have to see what exactly causes people to not understand “the other side.” Most of the time, blame is placed on the lack of exposure to the lives of others. Contradicting information also rarely cross path with people’s fantasies. Facebook at one point was to be blamed for segregating news where people’s newsfeeds became so contrastingly different.

So a person who reads the Economist will never cross paths with information from the National Review, Fox, Reason or other conservative and libertarian talking points. Even worse (for the lack of a better phrase), they get pushed even further in the political scale that The Economist, Vox and Slate reading crowd starts to exclusively read Jacobin and the right leaning readers will start to exclusively read Breitbart.

We became what the Verge and the Awl called “slaves of the algorithm.”

The internet used to be a gateway for people to transfer knowledge that others wouldn’t come across in real life but instead we all get stuck in our echo chambers. We get reinforced with our values over and over again by some obscure talk show across the globe.

So that means the internet of today is reinforcing the segregation, intentional or otherwise that exists in your immediate surrounding today.

Considering that as debaters, how do we free ourselves from the shackles of algorithms and learn about the “other side?”

Trappings of a Middle Class Sport

Like I said in my previous post, debating is a middle class sport. It is very contingent on privilege in more ways than one. While there are people from working class backgrounds, there are also other people from rural areas joining the sport. However to say the marginalized dominate the sport would be a very far stretch. The reality is that that same group of people with privilege will be the same group of people who rise to the top and rewrite the rules of the game in their perspective.

This could come in the form of literally writing the rules or even expressing the way debates are adjudicated. Their most powerful tool however is the ability to craft motions or topics that lead to what other people would read. Considering that most people get exposed to debating in their formative years, this would heavily inform their future political leanings and how they view the world.

Most important of all, debating forces you into positions where you have to immerse yourself in the imaginary role given to you. Most debates have been expressed through the eyes of western liberal democracies because these were the countries that were active from the beginning of the game. To what extent are they liberal is arguable though, and it seems that the scale has been moving closer to the left.

Debating fortunately has evolved to a point where motions have also been crafted to take into account the position of a character you need to empathise. Now, debates are slowly incorporating ideas where you have to understand the lives of people you don’t normally relate with. This goes for both crowds on the right and the left.

For example, in the last Asia-Pacific ABP (Malaysia), a motion that struck me and I think played a vital role in how Malaysian debaters think about debates was “As a socially liberal and fiscally conservative voter, THW vote for the Democrat Party.” (Correct me if the wording was wrong.) For the first time in such a long time, I heard debaters arguing the dilemma of a libertarian debater and how this affected their decision making process.

More recently, from the IMUDO (International Medical University Debate Open) the quarter finals motion was “As a Republican, THW not embrace the Alt-Right.” (Again, correct my wording for the motion.) Rarely do you hear arguments being made by left leaning crowds about the struggle that people who honestly have an evangelical spine and are fiscally conservative going through a mental dilemma in this American election cycle. So now debaters have to reassess whether everyone on the right are as evil or as alien to them as most varsity debate goes. It goes so deep that even this essay started off with the most liberal dilemma ever in this political climate.

On the other hand, I’ve ran motions that challenge the minds of people who would probably not be exposed to left leaning or progressive ideas. During a training session, I got debaters I was helping out for a tournament to debate “As a female voter, THW vote for female candidates regardless of political leaning, until at least half of the legislature comprise of women.” To these 14-15 year olds, Malay-Muslim boys in a boarding school in Malaysia, these ideas may not be intuitive to them. Wouldn’t a voter pick a candidate with a positive track record and has a great public image? It might be confusing and alien for them. But at least at one point in their lives, they have to put themselves in the shoes of another gender that they wouldn’t have done if no one pushed them to do so.

So while they may not live the experience of white rural working class America, the lives of women in patriarchal Saudi Arabia or even the lives of Black Lives Matter protestors, they are told to vividly describe and argue from that view point as if it were their interest. To teach people to be in uncomfortable positions and understand why people go through that decision making process to me is as beautiful as winning a tournament.

No Empathy for Old Men

So regardless of where your political leaning is, we can all agree that there is some level of benefit to get people to ponder what the anxieties of other people are. Sure, debating isn’t the only way for us to do so but now, it is one of the most accessible paths available.

The debating scene in Malaysia is in a unique position. Again, while privilege plays a role and the privileged are more interested in it; participation is at an all-time high. Malaysian debaters have been doing well abroad overseas; both on varsity and world school level. Not often we see debaters grace the covers of magazines. There used to be a time where debaters would only be in the back pages of a school’s magazine. Now they’re on national TV appearing on talk shows. This has generated huge interest and created this new drive for people back home. We have tournaments running almost every week.

December is the last month of the year. In other countries, schools are prepping for their semester’s final exams and the festive season. Yet in its first week, we have three tournaments clashing; a WUDC High Impact Training, the Petaling Jaya Debate Open and the Borneo-British Parliamentary Championship. It’s an amazing number of events for a niche interest in a country only shy of 5 million more than the population of Australia.

This meant debating in Malaysia has the easiest point of entry for everyone regardless of background. That’s where I urge those who have long been in the scene and have the privilege to shape the future of the scene to push for more motions that force people to argue from a diverse background. With the diverse scene described above, we have the tools at our disposal. Do not just let debating become another mirror image of yourself. Don’t make it another echo chamber.

We can no longer afford to have people trapped and we must do our best to have people  understand what’s going in the mind of others. So that’s why I would urge and encourage more people to run motions that go beyond the perspective of the upper middle class or those just in western liberal democracies. We are entering a world where even the latter stands on shaky foundations.

If we can’t get the previous generation to change theirs, and influence their decision at the ballot box or how they campaign then at the very least we do our very best for those who we talk to, we teach and we debate with.

And Justice For All

Every few years, citizens seek to rework their country in their image. It could be due to their sense of social justice. Or it could be their economic anxieties. Whatever it is, democracies cannot work when only one interest group is understood.

For Malaysia, that time is around the corner. However you want to use your inalienable rights is up to you. But it is only meaningful if we can learn stories from all perspectives. Before we wonder why things don’t go our way, we need to burst our bubbles first.

Debating is an excellent avenue and Nationals is the most inclusive varsity-level tournament in Malaysia so far. The topics may or may not be explicit to the country but the principles apply.

So whether, you are debating at Nationals to find a new niche in life or to find make a mark for yourself in the scene, absorb the lessons available. Question why would people you oppose come to those conclusions? Ask how do you convince people who also have other anxieties to deal with aside from yours? And if you’re adjudicating, will you take into consideration views that at first glance seem to be at odds with yours?

If you can ask those questions throughout Nationals, then debating is already on the path teaching us about empathy.

If You Ever Feel Like Quitting Debates, Read This

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By Terence Aaron

ABP and WUDC are approaching and trainers in active debate clubs are in full swing. By now, teams for the BP season are determined and they’re busy thinking of cute names for their teams in future inter-varsities.

For high school debaters, the struggle is too real. It’s the end of the year and all the major exams are coming soon. If the world schools selection for Team Malaysia is any indication of how hard debaters work at such an early age, I’m worried about how the rest cope with all the pressure.

However, behind all the stacks of case files, there will be people who don’t even get to make the team. Then there are people who can’t seem to break in the big four despite all the effort and time poured into debating. These are stories rarely told and often forgotten. Unfortunately, they are the people who quit debating because they think it’s not for them. Some struggle with the idea of being stuck on a plateau and some fear that time is not in their favor.

I’ll admit, I was one of them. I was rarely the first choice for my trainers and there are times I struggle to even remain relevant in the club. To further complicate things, I kept measuring my capabilities with the finest minds the country had to offer.

Here’s my message to people who are stuck there, selections isn’t a measure of your self-worth. At this point, I understand if you feel that debating isn’t for you. But if it means anything, here are a few pointers for you to ponder.

Look At Where You Started

The Malaysian debating scene is probably one of the most active in the region. Some of us struggle to find free time for ourselves. In fact, I had to write the first draft of this article/post on a bus ride back from a tournament in Perak.

While this is good for training, the downside to this is that if you’re new to debating or struggle in debating; you might forget to check your progress. Week after week, you meet the best speakers in the country making it to the break rounds of a local/prestigious debate tournament. It’s the same faces over and over again, and these stellar individuals are your only yardstick. Its easy to see why some people feel rather bad about their capabilities as a debater at this point.

Instead, what you should do is take the time to reflect upon how you started as a debater. We take for granted the small victories that we make along the way. If you’re somewhere in the middle of your debating career, try to look for your first few debates. Even better; look at your old notes (if you can find them). If you’re a hoarder like me, then you probably have stacks of your previous notes that you can track down. I normally get a kick from looking my old notes and realize how relatively mature my sentences are today in comparison. Sometimes I look through notes of debates where I managed to think of some kickass argument I’ve not used in ages.

Then I look through my old speeches and see my speech patterns. I rarely remind myself how horrible I stuttered.. Even today, I can still see remnants of it in my speeches. Especially with my dyslexia, even reading from a piece of paper was a terrifying act. I remember being called a nervous wreck and the smallest intimidating act around the environment of debate could easily bring havoc to the structure of my sentences.

The point is, we struggle with what’s ahead but forget to have some joy in the increments we gain. Sure, some people achieve more goals than us but its only because we started from different points in life. This brings me to my next point.

Like Everything Else, Debating is Heavily Contingent on Privilege

For a sport that features mature discussions on the range of differences we have as people, we rarely speak out loud about privilege in the sport. I do admit, there are helpful initiatives like having categories that facilitate and acknowledge these differences like the “English as a 2nd Language” or “English as a Foreign Language” categories in the big four tournaments.

While language comprehension is a crucial issue, the exposure to the topics presented in the sport also plays a bigger role. So while two different families may speak English as a 2nd language in the household, the educational background of the parents might affect what people know and learn at an early age. Debaters with parents who are educated at the tertiary level are more likely to talk about issues that are closer to their area of expertise. On the other hand, parents who didn’t get their degrees after high school might speak issues of greater importance to them. So these different sets of experiences shape how people approach issues. As unpopular as how this sounds, debaters from well to do families (or more “cultured” families) tend to shun the way people from the lower & lower-middle view things. It could be the jargon, it could just be how their perception of things are.

Debating, unfortunately, is inherently a very middle to upper-class sport. So as much as people would want to create categories for people with different exposures to language, it still doesn’t help people who feel as if the scene is detached from them. Is it any wonder the people who feel more belonged in the scene are kids who grew up in urban/suburban areas, from English speaking backgrounds and those that can relate to common pop culture, consumed by those in an upper middle to upper upbringing?

Then there comes the monetary aspect. Debaters, who can spend more money, tend to go to more tournaments. While those who are broke sit on the sideline. Then there’s institutional privilege with people who are from clubs that are well-funded. They get to pay for the best trainers, they have the financial means to go for tournaments every weekend, they don’t have to work that extra shift to afford to pay for rego in the next IV and they can afford to categorize tournaments into pro-am tournaments and competitive tournaments. While being good helps, being associated with a “brand” does you wonders. When I told my friends that I was furthering my studies in West Malaysia, they kept using the euphemism “going to the mothership.” I knew what they meant. The mothership is the base. It has everything. It’s where people get “promoted.”

No one said it explicitly but I know what they are saying; I’m going to have it easy.

I don’t have a perfect solution to this.

But there is one thing I think could help those trapped under these problems; just show up. If you are there often, it will be hard for them to ignore you. Be part of an adj panel and explain why you view things in a certain way. You have to force them to view things from your angle. If you think there’s another scene that resembles your troubles, prop them up. They need your help more than anyone else. These people would want to find a place they can feel belonged to and they would return the favor in the future. The bigger your circle is, the harder it is for people to ignore you. If you ever doubt this tactic, just look at the Asian contingent in the big four. As much as this sounds like I’m just repping my hometown, this was what Kuching debaters did. They propped each other up, pushed each other and contributed to the scene.

Then there’s one simple thing that people can do; ask for help. But not many are able to climb the mental barrier. Just talking to those who have an advantage over you might very well just change the way they view your problems.

Learn To Love the Game

So prep time is ending and it was the final preliminary round of UADC. All that went through my head was how to figure out the best angle, the best case, the best mechanism and the what I thought was the best argument possible for the motion.

I was so caught up in figuring out on how to do the job that I forgot how to enjoy the game. Debating is a social game. The moment you forget that, you’ll forget how to handle yourself. So that’s what happened to me. I was already a socially awkward human being. To talk in front of people is already a tough act to me. So if I didn’t enjoy myself, I was only a master of word salad.

The only way for a person to give a good speech and not get choked up is to enjoy it. I believe I’m not the only one who experiences this. It is the only way you can stop sounding plastic and put your mind in your intonation. Many inexperienced debaters get caught up in the facts and they get over emotional for the wrong reasons. There’s a reason why manner is half of the game. So unless you already grow up in an environment where you are free to experiment on how you express yourself (guess again which families have this opportunity), you’ll have to put your mind in the manner.

And the only way for you to have good manner is to have fun.

Even if you don’t win a debate with good manner, at least the speech is entertaining. That in itself is a value. The obsession to nail everything right at all cost is unhealthy. It consumes you.

The nights that people spend making stacks of case files retrospectively, scares me. I remember trying to pointlessly look for information that I have no idea if there will be of any value in any arguments. Sometimes, we have to ask ourselves why we searched for all this information.

All of this started because we were curious. If everything else consumes your initial curiosity, then what’s the point? After you cover your bases, pick something that you like or enjoy. Remember, debating is a team sport, not an endless know-your-facts race. I’m not advocating anti-intellectualism. I’m saying that you should pick something you enjoy and spend more time there.

You don’t need to be a know-it-all. The pursuit of knowledge is only useful is you can use that knowledge without damaging yourself further.

But If You Still Wish To Quit, Quit Because You Found Something You Love

At the end of the day, I can’t stop people for who they are. I can’t change what they think and I can’t dictate what amount of effort people can put into a hobby.

However, if you want to quit, don’t quit with the feeling of despair and hate in your mind. Quit because you found something that interests you think and spending so much time debating, might inhibit your potential.

Don’t treat debating as something you hated because you “wasted” so much time on it. Instead, view it as a platform for you to do other things. Be it writing or running your own startup, you can carry the lessons you learned from the debating community over.

If you ever feel down in the gutter because you feel that you never did well in debating, hating the sport won’t help you.

AICHR Youth Debate 2016

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Malaysian Institute for Debate & Public Speaking (MIDP) is proud to announce a collaboration with the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) Malaysia and University Malaya in hosting the AICHR Youth Debate on Human Rights, from the 22nd – 23rd September 2016.

This year’s will be the third edition of Youth Debates on Human Rights organized by the AICHR, with the first being organized by the Philippines in 2013 and followed by Singapore in 2015.

The core objective of the AICHR Youth Debate 2016 is to raise awareness and enhance understanding and interest among the ASEAN youth on the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration (AHRD) and its nexus to the new global agenda on “Transforming Our World: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)”.

This youth intellectual gathering is also aimed at providing an empowering platform for the ASEAN youth to express their aspirations on issues pertaining to human rights by presenting their own thoughts, to listen to those of others and advocate for youth-led solution. This indirectly encourages interaction and friendship among youths from diverse background and affiliation in all 10 ASEAN Member States (AMS).

MIDP is tasked to run the selection process to elect 3 Malaysian youth representatives to participate at this competition and it is with great pleasure that we share you the selection process:

Phase 1 – Participants are required to submit an online application with details like their achievements and several questions on why should they be selected to represent Malaysia to this competition. Elected panel consisting of representatives from AICHR and MIDP will vet through the applicants, to pick the best 40. Application is officially open today and will close on 2 September 2016. Successful applicants will be announced and contacted directly by 5 September 2016. To apply: http://goo.gl/6V4EWj

Phase 2 – Successful applicants will be attending the selection at the National Debate Excellence Center (NDEC) on 10 September 2016 and sit through 2 rounds of persuasive public speaking, with one prepared and one impromptu round, before a final cut to the top 3. Further details will be given to participants directly.

We look forward to receiving your applications!

YB Khairy Jamaluddin: Debate Is The Way Forward

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Debate Is The Way Forward by YB Khairy Jamaluddin

The youth of today are tomorrow’s leaders. It is our responsibility to provide them with the opportunities to grow and to become the best they can be. My name is Khairy Jamaluddin and I believe the culture of debate is the way forward.

Lets talk about what happens in a tournament. Just as the military draw out offence strategies, debaters read and produce fact files. Lots of them! Thick files covering topics that ranges from societal dilemmas and international politics to education policies and medicinal morality. Reading is just one part of the equation. In tournaments such as Nationals, they only have 15 minutes to prepare for a debate. Debaters are who they are because of the rigorous training they put themselves through. It is a comprehensive exercise that builds character, thinking, language and mutual respect. It has the potential to create a pool of highly talented individuals.

I would like to take a moment to commend the achievements of the Malaysian Debating Community. Two Malaysian universities currently rank in the top 30 debating universities in the world. We just won the Asian British Parliamentary Debating Championship. We have ranked in the top teams at the World Universities Debating Championship for two years in a row. Even at the high school level, Malaysians have become Champions of the Asian World Schools Championships for two years in a row and are ranked top 5 in the world.

So how do we as a nation benefit from this? I believe that debating creates critical thinkers, confident advocates and more importantly creates tolerance amidst diversities. It has the potential to create individuals with a wider perspective on issues, and the strength of mind to react in a mature manner to differences of opinions. Debating has the potential to create capable and intelligent young leaders and this is what we need. I would like to encourage the youth of Malaysia to be part of this culture. Every generation will have its differences, and our future leaders must be able to engage each division in a rational and intellectual manner to bridge the gaps between us and bring this nation together.

Malaysia making history, again!

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Breaking the ceiling by Terence Aaron

There are moments in history where you’ll ask the people around you where were they when it happened. These moments don’t come often. On the 20th of July, 2016, that happened to Malaysia. These moments didn’t happen in a vacuum. They happen because of the hard work of individuals passionate in their art.

In 1993, the International Islamic University of Malaysia (IIUM) decided to host the Australasian Debating Championship. They are the first Asian University to do so. This was the first dent in Australia and New Zealand’s dominance in the sport.

Then in 1998, we had the first Malaysian, Praba Ganesan to win the Martin Sorensen trophy. The trophy is for best speaker of the tournament. Praba won it while debating with De La Salle University-Manila.

In 2004, Multimedia University became the runners up to the tournament. Despite years of progress, no Malaysian team won the tournament. The ceiling seems far and impenetrable.

This year, what we thought was impossible happened. The International Islamic University of Malaysia (IIUM) became champions. For the second time in a row, Universiti Malaya (UM) became the champions of the ESL Category. Universiti Teknologi MARA (UT MARA) made it to the semi-finals of the open category. They gave way to the eventual champions.

Every country has their cultural icons. They comprise of laureates, athletes, lawmakers, warriors, or even diplomats. Maybe in Malaysia, our debaters are our cultural icons. These are the faces that MIDP looks up to and shape our future from.

Heartfelt congratulations to IIUM (Ameera Natasha Moore, Sara Abdul Rahim, and Mubarrat Wassey), UM (Sharon Jessy, Leeroy Ting, and Vinodhan Kuppz) and UT MARA (Jasmine Ho, Muayyad Khairulmaini and Mifzal Mohammed).

As we build the next generation of debaters, this generation is the inspiration and MIDP looks forward to continuing this new-found tradition. Thank you for all your hard work, the ceiling no longer looks far; it no longer looks impenetrable.

Strengthening the Debate Culture

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Second Sphere by Saifuddin Abdullah

Malaysia’s debating culture reached another milestone when we successfully hosted the 35th World Universities Debating Championship 2015 (Worlds 2015) from Dec 28 to Jan 3. Worlds is the most prestigious debating competition, and it is every debater’s dream to become the champion.

Worlds 2015 saw the participation of 774 debaters, representing 316 universities from 92 countries. The event was co-organised by the Malaysian Institute of Debating and Public Speaking (MIDP) and University Teknologi Mara (UiTM).

The teams participated in three categories: Open, English as a Second Language (ESL) and English as a Foreign Language (EFL).The four teams that made it to the final of the Open category were Sydney, Harvard, Oxford and BPP. Sydney emerged champion.

The most successful Malaysian team at Worlds 2015 was the International Islamic University of Malaysia (IIUM), which made it to the Open quarter-final. The other Malaysian team that had a good outing was Asia Pacific University (APU), which together with IIUM, made it to the Open Break. This is the first time Malaysia has had two teams making it to the elimination rounds.

For Malaysia, the hosting of Worlds 2015 is very significant because it is like a celebration of 40 years of documented history of debating in this country. Debating, in fact, started a long time ago, notably among the country’s premier schools, but its development was not well documented.

It was only 40 years ago that debating became more celebrated and systematic. It started when, in 1974, the then prime minister Tim Abdul Razak started the Prime Minister’s Cup (PPM) Debating Competition (in Malay and English) among the boarding schools (SBP). This was followed by a similar competition among the Mara Junior Science Colleges (MRSM) and later, among all schools.

About a decade ago, IIUM started the Inter-School Debating Competition (IDC). Today, IDC is the most prestigious inter-school debating competition because it is the only one open to all types of schools (SBP, MRSM, day schools, private schools and international schools) and is conducted in Bahasa Malaysia, English and Arabic.

At the university level, debating competitions became more popular in the mid-1980s. For example, in the Malay category, there was the Selangor Chief Minister’s Cup and the Environment Debate, and in English, the Universiti Malaya Fifth College Debate.

Here, it is important to note that most of the university debaters were — and today still are — former school debaters. That is why, 1974 — the beginning of a more systematic and well-documented debating scene in the country — is considered a watershed year.

By the mid-1990s, there were already about a dozen inter-university debating competitions. In 1994, the Malaysian Universities Debating Council (Madum) was established. In 1995, Madum organised the first Royal Malaysian Universities Debating Competition for public universities.

Last year, MIDP organised the first National Inter-University English Debating Championship (Nationals), which was open to all public and private universities. The Nationals is set to be the most important national debating competition because it serves as the final preparation for Malaysian teams participating at Worlds.

On the international front, our schools and universities have been doing quite well. MIDP is commissioned by the Ministry of Education to recruit and train the Malaysian high school team for the World and Asian schools competitions. The MIDP-trained high school teams were Asian champions for three consecutive years (2012 to 2014). At Worlds in 2014, we were ranked fifth best.

For the universities, besides IIUM and APU, two other universities with strong teams that have been winning Asian-level competitions are UiTM and UM. The Worlds 2015 Convener, Maizura Mokhsein (from UiTM), was Best Speaker of the United Asian Universities Debating 2014.

But debating is not just about competition. It is much more. It is about knowledge culture and education approach and involves larger aspects of life, for example, politics, economics, social and diplomacy.

Minister of Education II Datuk Seri Idris Jusoh was spot on in his speech at the closing ceremony of Worlds 2015, when he said debating is a very important education tool.

Richard Andrews, in his book, Argumentation in Higher Education, offers an antidote to a system that has grown boring with too much focus on the “right answers”, to the extent that students are taught to be simplistic and robotic.

Debating, as one of the modes of argumentation, would be able to enhance a student’s prowess in rationality, thought, critical thinking, communication and discourse.

In the Malaysian context, if we were to add language, for example English, into the equation, then debate is indeed a very important tool in enhancing the quality of our university education and graduates.

This does not mean that all university students are required to debate or attend debating competitions. What is needed is to introduce the elements of debating and argumentation in the class and co-curriculum, for example, in spoken form, such as through forums, discussions, seminars, dialogues and conversation, and in written form, through essays, assignments, position papers, research papers, dissertations and theses.

One may argue that these forms are already in practice. I will rebut that by asking: to what extent? Are they conducted in the spirit of university autonomy and in upholding the principles of freedom of speech and academic freedom?

Our schools and universities have made headway in debating competitions but in the case of debating in the larger education context — as an important education tool — we definitely have to do much more.

And this will only be possible if society, especially the leadership, understands the role and importance of debating, work to develop and strengthen debating culture, and more importantly, engage in debating activities that celebrate the contestation of ideas so that the best ideas will bring about the best policies and programmes for the people.

Saifuddin Abdullah is CEO of Global Movement of Moderates and former deputy minister of higher education. He is active on twitter: @saifuddinabd

Source: The Edge Weekly, 26 Jan 2015


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