2 February 2023

SMK Lutong and Kolej Yayasan Saad Melaka win 18th Swinburne Sarawak Inter-School Debating Championship

KUCHING – SMK Lutong has emerged as champion in the Senior Category of the 18th Swinburne Sarawak Inter-School Debating Championship (SSIDC) held from 30 January to 2 February 2023, while the Junior Category was won by Kolej Yayasan Saad Melaka.

In the Senior Category involving students in Forms 4 and 5, the team comprising Ryan Foh Jing Yee, Andrea Ong Li Wei and Kalpana A/P Murugayah from SMK Lutong defeated St Joseph’s Private School’s Daphne Ngu Dai Ning, Michelle Ting Chiong Sung and Rachael Chai Xin Ru on the motion ‘This House would subsidise cosmetic surgery’. In this category, the Best Debater in the Final award went to Ryan Foh Jing Yee.

In the Junior Category involving students in Forms 1 to 3, Eriz Fazli bin Faiz Hussin, Daania Aaleysha binti Khairudin and Tuah bin Nur Azman from Kolej Yayasan Saad Melaka defeated the SMK Lutong team comprising Badzlin Balqis binti Bahtair, Rachel Kok Kah-Ern and Vellan Yue Yaang on the motion ‘This House supports the use of paid protestors in feminist protests’. Eriz Fazli bin Faiz Hussin won the Best Debater in the Final award for the Junior Category.

(From third right) Ryan Foh Jing Yee, Andrea Ong Li Wei and Kalpana A/P Murugayah from SMK Lutong emerge as champions in the Senior Category of the 18th SSIDC.

(From third right) Ryan Foh Jing Yee, Andrea Ong Li Wei and Kalpana A/P Murugayah from SMK Lutong emerge as champions in the Senior Category of the 18th SSIDC.

Endorsed by the Ministry of Education, SSIDC is the largest English debating championship in Borneo. In its 18th year now, a total of 192 students from all over the state and country as well as Wifmi Academy Sintang from Indonesia took part, making up 36 teams in the Senior Category and 28 teams in the Junior Category.

Twenty-three schools were represented, with four schools from Peninsular Malaysia taking part: Kolej Yayasan Saad, Melaka; SM Sains Kota Tinggi, Johor; SM Sains Rembau, Negeri Sembilan and SMJK Sin Min, Kedah. Sabah Tshung Tsin Secondary School also flew in to participate in SSIDC.

In Sarawak, the majority of teams were from Kuching with others coming from Kolej Tun Datu Tuanku Haji Bujang, SMK Chung Hua Miri and SMK Lutong in Miri, MRSM Mukah in Mukah and SMK St Anthony in Sarikei.

An initiative by the Swinburne Debaters’ Club, the aim of SSIDC is to encourage students in secondary schools in Sarawak to debate in English and to hone their oral and communication skills as well as their reasoning and critical thinking skills.

Speaking at the Award Presentation Ceremony, Swinburne Sarawak’s Executive Dean (Academic) Ir Professor Sim Kwan Yong, representing the Pro Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive Officer Ir Professor Lau Hieng Ho, commended all the students who took part in the tournament, saying that the critical thinking and oratory skills they were developing would help them in their university studies and in their future workplaces.

According to the tournament’s founding Advisor Dr Christina Yin, SSIDC brings students from all types of schools in Malaysia, from government schools to private and vernacular schools, to a safe place where they can practise and hone their debating skills. “There’s nothing else like SSIDC to help students grow!” said Dr Yin.

Chief Adjudicator Dr Stanley Nwobodo said that returning to the in-person SSIDC was much welcomed. The Swinburne Debaters’ Club ran SSIDC online for two years at the height of the pandemic, but this year could welcome students and teachers to its in-person tournament once again.

“I am glad to see students excited and pushing themselves to the hilt in person again. It brings their true debating spirit to the fore,” he said.

Senior Champion Ryan Foh Jing Yee, who won the Best Debater in the Final award, expressed excitement over his and his team’s achievements while also applauding his opponents’ talents and skills.

“To all the up-and-coming debaters, never give up. Even if you meet with failure, just know that you’ll be successful one day,” he said when sharing some words of advice for aspiring debaters.

The Overall Best Debater in the preliminary rounds went to Daphne Ngu Dai Ning from St Joseph’s Private School for the Senior Category and Eriz Fazli bin Faiz Hussin from Kolej Yayasan Saad Melaka for the Junior Category.

Aimed to encourage students to persevere and keep striving to improve, awards for Most Promising Team and Most Improved Team were also presented. The Best Sarawakian Team in both categories was also awarded and this year’s winners were SMK Lutong in both the Senior and Junior Categories.

The debate themes included motions on Education, Health, Law, Sports, Technology and an Environment round sponsored by SSIDC 2023’s Conservation Partner, Sarawak Forestry Corporation, which saw students debating complex motions such as ‘This House believes that environmentalist groups should fully abandon advocating for the mitigation of climate change (planting more trees, carbon taxes and offsets), in favour of adaptation efforts (e.g. exploring alternative habitable planets, combatting rising sea levels)’.

An Education round, sponsored by the English Language Centre, found students debating on controversial motions such as ‘This House would ban international schools in Malaysia’ and ‘This House would prioritise university scholarships to students requiring financial aid over merit scholarships’.

Other sponsors included Wellness Foods (better known as John’s Pie), Trillion Indah and Satok Hardware and Engineering. Supported by the different departments of the university, prizes for games and lucky draws were contributed by the Swinburne Sarawak Library.

Also present at the Grand Finals and Award Presentation Ceremony were Tuan Haji Zamzaitul Akmal Hisham bin Ahmad, Deputy Director, Student Development Sector, representing YBhg Datu Dr Haji Azhar bin Haji Ahmad, Director of the Sarawak State Education Department; Datin Dr Valerie Mashman, Director of the English Language Centre and Puan Bistari Mahmood, Head of Conservation Education and Training, representing Tuan Haji Zolkipli Mohamad Aton, Chief Executive Officer and Controller of Wildlife, Sarawak Forestry Corporation.

For more information on Swinburne Sarawak, visit its website (www.swinburne.edu.my), Facebook page (@swinburnesarawak), Instagram (@swinburnesarawak), Twitter page (@Swinburne_Swk) or YouTube channel (Swinburne Sarawak).

Media Enquiries

Tania Lam
Officer (Communication and Events)

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