High schoolers, university students face-off in Kuching Debate League

By Danielle Sendou Ringgit
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Conducted in a British Parliamentary debate style, the debaters are debate on the topic whether sport should be made compulsory for university and college students in Malaysia.


From sports, social media to vaping, debaters in the Kuching Debate League (KDL) argued intensely with each other on these topics, each of them relentlessly presenting their arguments with various reasons, points and examples.

Conducted in the British Parliamentary debate style, teams are divided in two – the Government and Opposition – with four members on each side trying to defeat the other team by putting forward their own arguments and ideas.

On October 31st, Swinburne University hosted the third Kuching Debate League (KDL) which was participated by 12 teams from five schools and higher learning institutions; SMK Batu Lintang, Lodge School, SMK Sains Kuching Utara, Unimas and Swinburne.



Hugh (left) and Albert


“We have it on a three-month basis and it is supposed to be on a rotational basis between us, Unimas and Lodge school,” said Hugh John Leong, one of the advisors of Swinburne Debator Club.

“It is basically to increase the participation of students and try to promote debate competition for students,” said Hugh.

Feeling nervous earlier about having to face her opponents, Nina Pramila, a second year medical student from Unimas who represented the Government side of the topic on whether sports should be compulsory for university and college students, felt much better after the debate session.



Nina Pramila


Also feeling nervous earlier was Form One student from SMK Batu Lintang Timothy Ng who represented the opposition side on the same topic. Having joined KDL the second time, Timothy said that he started debating this year because he was encouraged by his sister -also a debater – to join.

Founded back in 2008, KDL is the result of an agreement between different education institutions who agreed to host KDL in its efforts to help the community improve in the debate scene.

“This is a platform where we allow students to come and debate and improve their language and give them the opportunity to improve their confidence in speaking as well, I think that is important,’ added Hugh where he observed there has been a lack of competition available in debates both at high school and tertiary levels of education.



Timothy Ng


According to Nazmi Ahmad Nizar of SMK Sains Kuching Utara, he and his friends decided to join KDL to develop their speech and debating skills by facing more debaters from different schools or institutions so that they could learn from them as well.

Participated mostly by debaters from high school teams as well as those from the tertiary level, Hugh added that those who are not active debaters are also welcome to participate.

“I got many students in my club who are interested in just improving their ability to present in class and those who want to join for public speaking; we accept those as well,” said Hugh.



Nazmi (right) and his friend Ariz Syaqil Aizuddin from SMK Sains Kuching Utara


According to Hugh, the participation of these students then open up interest in the debating scene as they start to be interested in world news and issues that are happening around the world.

“Here we provide students the opportunity to be in a more conducive environment, which is more of a building process for students to learn how to debate,” said Hugh.

For a higher level of debating tournament, Unimas is organising the Borneo British Parliamentary Championship from November 26th till 30th open for both  national and international participation.



A member from the Government side arguing that sports is necessary for students to be mentally and physically healthy.


According to Albert Kamahlendra of the Unimas Debating Society, there are currently 36 teams registered and they are hoping to get more to enter.

Also part of the debate society, Albert, a final year civil engineering student from Unimas was the former president of the Unimas Debating Society and is now currently the senior holder of the club where he mostly judges debate tournaments and trains debaters.

When asked about the debate scene in Sarawak, he observed that it was largely participated  by high school teams.



A member from the Opposition arguing during the debate session that it was the freewill of each student to whether they wanted to join sports or not.


“Even today, I see probably the majority of the teams are from high school as well. So, high school teams are very active. For a single state, Sarawak has one of – or the most – high school debate teams. Sarawak itself I think is equal to the whole Peninsular, in terms of number of high school teams participate in debating,” said Albert.

“Unfortunately, in university, you do not have that many. So we have Swinburne, Unimas and there is a budding debate club in UiTM, Sarawak that is growing. So, it is not as active as the high school scene,” he said, reasoning that the decline of debaters in higher institutions could be caused by the majority of students who move out of Sarawak to further their studies.



At the end of the session, the judicators discussed with the participants about their performances and points and how they can perform better


Aiming for more institutions to be interested in hosting KDL, Albert said that it would harness interest among the students in the debate scene and get more participation from students in the tournament.

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