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WSDC Team Malaysia: Humble Beginnings & Hopeful Future

WSDC Team Malaysia: Humble Beginnings & Hopeful Future

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By Terence Aaron

There is no point in celebrating the glories of the past when there is little cause to celebrate tomorrow. 2016 was the year the Malaysian debating scene hit its peak with a record number of teams breaking at the World Universities Debating Championship as well as dominating the Australasian scene. The community refuses to let this momentum die in the pages of history and we have a plan set in stone.

It began in 2012 when varsity debaters, with the help of the Malaysian Institute for Debate & Public Speaking (MIDP) seeded the revolution by paying attention to young debaters in high school.

Prior to this, debaters in Team Malaysia for World Schools were selected via a national tournament. The tournament unfortunately, only occurred once a year and the participants were expected to perform without any regimented training. Many had potential but due to their lack of resources and access to tournaments, were inevitably left behind. MIDP soon recognised this gap and made a tenacious decision to explore this untapped realm of potential.

Instead of debaters having to train themselves and compete for a few spots in the team, a newfound selections process was held. From there, a team of debaters was selected according to their knowledge, potential and skills. With this new selections format, MIDP was able to fund training sessions for the debaters. This in turn opened an avenue for younger debaters to feel motivated as well as gave access to talented, struggling debaters who had no training opportunities. As the sport progressively becomes more diverse and accessible on the account of this new support structure, MIDP has successfully laid the foundation of a debating powerhouse.

Strong Foundations, Solid Achievements

Breaking at World Schools was unprecedented before this. However, once equipped with topnotch coaching and guidance from the best varsity debaters, trainers managed to bring a ragtag team of debaters to break 13th at Worlds. To top it off, Razzaq Fazail and Aaron Luke managed to secure the 11th and 10th ESL best speaker spots that year.

2013 started with a bang with the Malaysian team crowned champions of the Asian World Schools in Thailand. This time, Aaron Luke topped the tabs and Tan Tse Hao ranked 9th best speaker. 2014 was their glory year again when members of the World Schools competed against varsity debaters and snagged the Borneo Championship. From not breaking at worlds, Malaysia became the undefeated champions by securing the 2014 Asian World Schools Championship, defeating the notable South African team in the grand finals. As trainings become more consistent, so did their performance when the team reached the Octofinals of World Schools in 2014. To solidify their presence, the top 3 ESL speaker prizes went to the WSDC Malaysian team.

By 2015, the Malaysian World School debaters were consistently debating against varsity debaters, bridging the gap between varsity and high school debaters. In fact, in what was the most competitive tournament in the region, Amrit Agastia ranked as the 10th best speaker at the Malaysia Debate Open (MDO). Throughout the year, the world school teams were breaking high on the tabs. That year alone, they managed to enter the grand finals of the Korea Debate Open, the Borneo Debating Championship, and the World & Law Debating Championship. With them wreaking havoc and turning the scene inside out, it was no surprise that they blazed their way to the Quarter Finals of Worlds. Along the way, they managed to grab the top 3 ESL speaker prizes once again. On top of that, for the first time in history, Team Malaysia bagged an open top 10 award with Kishen Sivabalan ranking as 7th best speaker of the world.

After an intense selection process, coupled with top-notch training by head coach, Siron Pereira, Team Malaysia was ready to conquer Germany in 2016. Representing Malaysia was; Amrit Agastia, Deborah Wong Kai Wai, Kishen Sivabalan, Roshan Sivabalan, Tariq Azlan, Wazir Kahar, Siddharta Nirmala Adaikalaraj and Sonja English. That year, the formidable team won the Brickfields Asia College Debating Championship, HELP Inter-Varsity, and the Taiwan Debate Open. On top of that, reaching the grand finals of multiple tournaments, including the Prague Debate Spring.

Like a well-oiled regiment, the team made their way to the octofinals, with speakers Amrit Agastia, Deborah Wong Kai Wai and Kishen Sivabalan making their way to becoming the top 5 ESL speakers in the world. Additionally, Kishen ranked as the 9th best speaker in the world, for 2016.

These are the valiant stories of young debaters, still at the beginning of their journey. They have exceeded all expectations and goals set and are still hungry for more. This is not a just another list of war stories from debate frontiers, this is a sign of what’s to come. They are the Malaysian plan for debate-domination on a national and global level.

Meet Our Trainers: Torch-Bearers for Our Debaters

2017 is fast approaching, positive record and high achievements are not reasons for MIDP to get complacent. In regards to this, they have selected some of the best debaters from the circuit to be the torchbearers of the coming year. They will be the ones guiding our new crop of debaters, pushing their potential to the limits and crafting their talents to perfection.

Acknowledging that debating is a sport that champions different experiences and skillsets, MIDP has handpicked the most diverse set of trainers to date. Leading the senior team will be; Siron Pereira, the official Team Malaysia coach since 2012 and Jasmine Ho, two time Asians Finalist and one half of the only Asian team ever to rank 2nd in the Worlds University Debating Championship. The developmental team will be led by Ameera Natasha Moore, two-time Asians Champion and Australs Champion and Kelvin Manuel Pillay, former member of Team Malaysia 2012 and Asian Schools Champion. Managing WSDC Team Malaysia 2017 will be Ahmed Faris, CEO of MIDP.

WSDC Team Malaysia 2017 Trainers & Team Manager

From left: Siron Pereira, Ameera Moore, Jasmine Ho, Kelviin Manuel, Ahmed Faris

Hopeful Future

Selections for the first batch of WSDC Team Malaysia 2017 was held a couple of weeks ago. With 15 debaters in the senior team and 13 debaters in the developmental squad, the contingent is the most diverse it has ever been. Training has kick-started and our school debaters are more pumped than ever to begin a strong year for Team Malaysia. Here’s to cheering them on, with high anticipation for the greater things to come.

1 Comment

Susie Naddan

October 12, 2016 at 10:59 pm

Well done to MIDP n d talented debators. Keep soaring high until u reach d sky and u can definitely do it. These recent achievements has placed Malaysia in d world map and am sure under d guidance n coaching of d talented coaches , present n future teams will continue to achieve excellence in international debating. KEEP IT UP

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