3 Things Every Malaysian Should Know About The Recent Debate “Olympics” We Hosted

by: Lee Yan Cheng

Contrary to popular belief, debating is indeed our culture and (some) Malaysians love to argue. Dating back to the 90s and up until today, Malaysia boasts a rich debating scene composed of speakers from various public and private tertiary education institutions in the nation.

To say that Malaysian debaters are competitive is an understatement. With debating competitions happening locally on an almost bi-monthly basis, and at least 4 major international tournaments annually, you can expect to see Malaysians at every one of these events.

One of these international tournaments is the United Asian Debating Championship, or better known as UADC. Founded in 2010 and adhering to the 3-on-3 Asian Parliamentary debating format, UADC is recognised as the most prestigious debating competition in Asia.

Similar to the Olympics, every year, a nation-host or institution is selected through a bidding process through the Asian debate council and debaters from every corner of Asia will congregate to compete and crown the new Asian champions!

1. Malaysia just organised the most recent edition of UADC

Malaysia is proud to be given the ultimate vote of confidence from the Asian debating community to host the 15th edition of UADC, aptly titled “Malaysia UADC 2024”.

The whole event was organised by the Malaysian Institute for Debate & Public Speaking (MIDP), who has once again put Malaysia on the map of global debating through a classic showcase of Malaysian hospitality in the overall seamless execution of the competition.

The competition saw the participation of more than 230 delegates from 40 institutions across 16 countries in the region – that’s a third of Asia! With the support from Berjaya Corporation Berhad, a total of 14 debate rounds took place at BERJAYA University College and BERJAYA TVET College, while Berjaya Times Square Hotel came on board as the official accommodation for all the delegates.

After 4 years of the tournament being hosted online due the COVID-19 pandemic, MIDP has successfully brought the championship back to its lively, onsite nature, with a large number of the participants describing the competition as one of the best debating events they have ever attended.

MIDP, also known as the leading soft skills education institution in the country, is no stranger to hosting large international events. Since their inception in 2010, MIDP has organised a total of 7 major debating competitions in the world. With just 10 organising team members, the MIDP team has truly created an unforgettable experience for the delegates, most of whom are visiting Kuala Lumpur for the first time!

2. Malaysians did really well!

The best part of it all is our debaters had a spectacular run at Malaysia UADC 2024!

A total of 4 Malaysian teams qualified to the most competitive elimination rounds, securing their seat as the top 16 teams in the 55-team-tournament. The teams from Universiti Malaya, Taylor’s University and Universiti Teknologi MARA reminded Asia that Malaysia continues to be a debating powerhouse in the region. On top of that, two of them made it as far as the Quarterfinals – a bragging right only 8 teams in Asia are entitled to.

Shireen Ali from Sunway University, as well as Ernest Mah and Imran Ilmam from Universiti Malaya were recognised as three of the Top 10 Judges of Asia. This was decided based on the quality of adjudication and justifications delivered to the teams every round. Uniquely at UADC, judges are also competing and strictly evaluated throughout the competition.

Most notably, Haikal Daniel from Universiti Teknologi MARA and Kuhan Karttikeyn from Universiti Malaya emerged as the top 10 Best Speakers of Asia, which means they outperformed more than 160 other debaters to be recognised as Asia’s best.

The icing on the cake is that the Best Speaker in Asia, Ian Dylan Chai, although representing the National University of Singapore, is actually a Malaysian!

3. The Closing & Award Ceremony was one to remember

The pinnacle of the tournament was the Closing and Award Ceremony held at the beautiful Westin Grand Ballroom, where the Asian Champions were crowned. The VIPs in attendance were Emellia Shariff (CEO of MIDP), Norlela binti Baharudin (Executive Director of Berjaya Corporation), Tricia Loh (Director of Business Development and Marketing of Berjaya Times Square Hotel), Ahmad Jeoffrey bin Aladib (CEO of MyFranchise)), Mohairi Mohamad (CEO of Big Nineteen Sdn Bhd), Dr Raslan Haniff Abdul Rashid (Director of Strategic Human Capital Management of Khazanah Malaysia), and Kama Bistari bin Muhammad (Executive Vice President of Operations of Yayasan Peneraju).

At the end of the night, Macao University of Science and Technology emerged as champion in the English as a Foreign Language Category and Nanyang Technological University Singapore was announced as the champion in the Open Category.

In attendance were more than 100 guests, featuring leaders from corporate Malaysia and government agencies, as well as advocates from impact organisations, and representatives from educational institutions. Their presence is not just a show of support for MIDP’s work, but also a testament of the importance of debating and soft skills literacy in Malaysia.