TSI to organise Oxford-style debate on Sarawak nationalism on May 6

A promotional material of the Oxford-style debate showcase organised by TSI.

KUCHING, April 26: The Sarawak Initiatives (TSI) will be organising an Oxford-style debate on the impact of the rise of Sarawak nationalism in the country on May 6 at Raia Hotel and Convention Centre from 2pm to 5pm.

According to a media release, the showcase entitled ‘This house regrets the rise of Sarawak nationalism’, will feature four renowned local debaters who had won many accolades in both the national and global scenes .

Penangite Muhyuddin Ahsan and Sarawakian Catherine Alicia Nathan, both Asean Youth Debate 2022 champions, will lead the star-studded showcase line-up along with Terence Aaron Anthony, last year’s Malaysia British Parliamentary champion, and Sunway Asian Parliamentary 2023 champion, Ian Dylan Chai.

The event’s patron is Kota Sentosa assemblyman Wilfred Yap of Sarawak United Peoples’ Party (SUPP).

Event organising chairperson Samuel Desmond Tuah said the TSI Oxford debate showcase aims to highlight important issues that all Sarawakians should be aware of, including on Sarawak nationalism, which could decide the trajectory of Sarawak’s policies and visions for decades to come.

Touching on what civil society hoped to achieve from the showcase, Samuel, who heads TSI Debating Society and will act as the president of the showcase, pointed out that for the people to come to the right decisions regarding their future and State, they must be allowed to discuss and debate ideas, even when such ideas could be controversial.

“That is why ‘Freedom of Speech’ is a right in our Constitution. By debating about the topic we are increasing the awareness of it. But not in the ‘kopitiam’ (coffeeshops) arguments, but through the informed and intellectual method of competitive debating,” he added.

Samuel Desmond Tuah

Commenting on the upcoming showcase, Yap, said he was much interested and fully support in topics that touches on Sarawak nationalism, particularly on highlighting the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63).

“I encourage discussion among the younger generation, and very much interested in listening to their opinions on the issues touching on Sarawak rights,” he said.

Yap also encourages the participation of youth in politics as it is critical because through youth participation in politics through debates of this nature, they develop leadership skills, teamwork abilities, and effective communication skills that are important not only for their own success but also for the development and progress of the country.

Wilfred Yap

Meanwhile, Muhyuddin was the 2017 Datuk Wira champion and had represented his home state Penang five times at the national-level tourney. Last year, he reached the quarterfinals of the Asian British Parliamentary championship and champion of the Australasian Intervarsity Debating Championship in the “English as a Second Language” (ESL) category. He is currently ranked seventh in Asia and holds the title of Best Speaker in Malaysia.

Catherine, a former SMK Lutong student and currently pursuing her tertiary education at Universiti Malaya, had represented Sarawak in the Datuk Wira championship while still in high school. She is ranked one of the top 15 speakers in Asia and was crowned national champion back to back in 2021 and 2022.

She also took part in the Australasian Intervarsity Debating Championship last year, where she won in the ESL category and third Overall Best ESL Speaker. She was also a finalist in the 2022 Cambridge Intervarsity, where her team ranked first place in ESL category. Catherine was also champion in the Royal Intervarsity Debating Championship 2022 and won Overall Best Speaker.

With over seven years of experience in debate, she became a trainer for School’s Camp for Advanced Reasoning Skills 2022 hosted by the Malaysian Institute for Debate and Public Speaking (MIDP), as well as the Podium Academy.

Terence, a former debater under UT MARA Debating Society and is currently the debate coach for Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (Unimas), was a quarterfinalist of the Asian British Parliamentary 2012 held in Beihang University, China. He was honoured the Debate Leadership Award by the MIDP in 2017.

His stint as Unimas’ debate team coach from 2017-2019, and then from 2022 till present, saw the university team reaching finals in the open and novice categories and winning overall best speakers.

Terence also coached SM Sains Kuching Utara from 2016-2019 and from 2022 till present. During this period, the school went on to become the first East Malaysian team to win the Prime Minister’s Cup in its 40 years history.

Chai, with nine years of experience in the debating circuit, was a novice finalist at Yale Intervarsity in 2021, finalist of the Oldham Cup International Debating Competition in 2020 and champion in the East Coast Debate Open that same year. Chai was a semifinalist in the Intertext Asian Parliamentary Open 2023.

He also had an extensive history in debate as an organiser and adjudicator, having judged in tournaments such as the Thoburn Cup, Malaysia National Schools British Parliamentary Competition and the Kuching Interschool Debating Championship. He is currently pursuing a Global Affairs Major at Yale-NUS College in Singapore.

The showcase is open to the public but those interested to attend the event are advised to book their slots early due to limited seats. Those interested can contact TSI via WhatsApp at 019-8767928 or email thesarawakinitiatives@gmail.com for registration. Admittance is free. — DayakDaily