THIRTY-two teams from 20 institutions representing six countries — United Kingdom, Australia, the Philippines, Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia — congregated at the recent Quest International University Perak World Universities Peace Invitational Debate 2017 held at WEIL Hotel in Ipoh.
Dubbed QIUP WUPID 2017, the competition saw teams of two debaters representing their university in three rounds — preliminaries, quarter-finals and semi-finals — which ended with the top four teams which proved their worth by winning their rounds in this keenly contested competition.
At the grand finals with the debate motion titled THBT (This house believes that) the United States should end all support to Saudi Arabia, University of Sydney represented by Clyde Welch and James Pacino won RM10,000 and a trophy.
The other finalists from three teams — Louis Collier and Tan Teck Wei (University of Oxford), Razzaq Fazali and Sarah Tay (London School of Economics), and Colin Wu and Lucas Li (National University of Singapore) — received RM2,000 each while Welch won RM1,000 as best speaker.
WUPID 2017 gave the university 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 competition attracted some of the most talented and brightest young minds. It also showcased the best in what Malaysia’s debate community has to offer.
The three-day event saw competitors injecting funny anecdotes into their presentation, grabbing the audience’s attention.
They maintained good eye contact with the crowd, used their voice and hands effectively, attracted attention from the beginning and closed with a dynamic end.
They concluded with a summary and a strong statement that the audience would surely remember.
“The most difficult part was preparing for the motion 15 minutes before every round. James and I had to quickly come up with ideas and find suitable solutions for the motion in that short span of time.
“But being well-read helps you to gain confidence,” said Welch, 22.
He added that the Malaysian debaters did really well in this competition and their oratory skills are on a par with other participants.
Collier, 21, said he enjoyed the competition and the laid-back programme held on the sidelines
“There was plenty of spare time between rounds to visit the beautiful city. I hope to join more competitions in Malaysia as there are many beautiful places that I have yet to explore.
“It was also enlightening to hear different views from an international perspective at the competition,” added Collier.
Jessica Musulin, 26, from Australian National University, said everyone got to know one another at the medium-sized contest.
“It is an experience for me to meet different people from different regions and institutions. We share a lot in common and it is good to be able to relate to other debaters and get pointers to brush up on our skills,” she said.
The Malaysia team of Kajel Kaur Gill, 21, and S. Mubashir Noor, 35, from QIUP, did not make it to the finals, losing by one point.
“We are disappointed but we gained exposure and found out what we are lacking in so that we will improve ourselves,” said Kajel.
Mubashir said he needs to improve his oratory and presentation skills to be on a par with international debaters.
“I am proud not only of myself, but also of the university to have reached this stage even though we didn’t get to the finals. It was indeed an experience for me and I will do this again,” he added.
QUIP, the title sponsor and host university, welcomed 150 participants consisting of university debaters, adjudicators, registered observers and volunteers.
QIUP hopes the competition gave local debaters exposure to international standards of debating and inspired youths to take up debating.
QUIP council member and QI Group non-executive director Tan Sri Megat Najmuddin Megat Khas stressed the importance of debating skills in shaping the youths of tomorrow.
“Debating is an important tool in innovation as it has proven to be a significant element in policy design and decision-making.
“Freedom of innovation is a key driver for economic growth.
“As Malaysia continues to move towards a high-value, knowledge-based economy with a focus on the services and manufacturing sectors, the culture of debating will play a pivotal role that not only raises the overall efficiency and productivity of the nation, but also preserves the moral and ethical standards of the collective society,” he added.
QIUP chief operating officer Nicholas Goh said the aim of the contest was to have the best university debaters argue peace-related issues and formulate possible conflict resolutions.
“We hope that debating activities like this will foster respect, tolerance and, most importantly, togetherness in a world, which despite technological advancements, remains worlds apart.
“Often, it is fear and apprehension of our differences — ideological and cultural — that motivate people to exhibit certain behaviour, which may be considered belligerent.
“After taking part in WUPID, we hope that the world’s future leaders and policy makers will be more open to the diversity of cultures and ideologies which are dissimilar to theirs.
“In the long run, we hope WUPID will be the preferred youth platform for the debate of proposed international policies,” he added.
A private and research-led university, QIUP believes that planting the seeds of curiosity in students will inspire them to make “knowledge-seeking” their quest in life.
“Our programmes are industry-relevant and employ motivational teaching methods which are highly effective.
“QIUP graduates emerge from the university as florets leaving a plant, ready for the job market and will continue their quest to learn.
“We not only focus on academics but also on teaching students the green concept, where love for the environment and the community is nurtured.”
Also present were Higher Education Department senior principal assistant director Mohd Ruzeiny Kamaruzzaman, QIUP vice-chancellor Datuk Professor Dr Raman Narayanasamy, WUPID organising chairman and co-founder Daniel Hasni and WUPID chief adjudicator Dr Chandran Somasundram.