2 July 2024

St Joseph’s Private School and Kolej Yayasan Saad Melaka win 19th Swinburne Sarawak Inter-School Debating Championship

KUCHING – The 19th Swinburne Sarawak Inter-School Debating Championship (SSIDC) held at Swinburne University of Technology Sarawak Campus from 24 to 27 June 2024 saw St Joseph’s Private School crowned as Senior Champion and Kolej Yayasan Saad Melaka as Junior Champion.

In the Senior Category, St Joseph’s Private School triumphed over SM Lodge with a 7-2 split decision. The teams debated the motion “This House supports AI romantic relationships”. Form 3 student Glenys Wong joined her senior teammates, Michelle Ting Chiong Sung and Rachael Chai Xin Ru, to compete in the Swinburne Sarawak debate tournament.

“I am still in disbelief as I didn’t think I would ever win. This is my second time at SSIDC and I’d tell everyone to give it a shot. You may fail or get embarrassed, but at the end of the day, you’ll learn to love it!” said Glenys.

Michelle, who won Best Debater in the Final said, “Words can’t describe how grateful I am to have finally taken the Champion title for this tournament. It is indeed something I’ve been dreaming of achieving since I was in Form 1. I feel incredibly proud of my team for working so hard. All the hours we spent practising and researching have definitely paid off!”

Meanwhile, in the Junior Category, Kolej Yayasan Saad Melaka defeated Kolej Datu Patinggi Abang Haji Abdillah. With this victory, they retained the championship, marking the second consecutive year that the school has won the title in the Junior Category.

The team from Kolej Yayasan Saad Melaka, consisting of Badrul Ariff bin Badrul Akmal, Jood Ammar bin Sazzli Shahlan and Zara Aleesya binti Abdul Haizal, were the Opposition side, debating with Kolej Datu Patinggi Abang Haji Abdillah on the motion “This House would forgive all debts of individuals who have legally retired”. The panel of nine adjudicators came to a 6-3 split decision, giving the Opposition team the win.

Senior champions (from second left) Glenys Wong, Michelle Ting Chiong Sung and Rachael Chai Xin Ru with Mr Dennis Nur Amin Abdullah (left) and Ir Professor Lau Hieng Ho (right).

Senior champions (from second left) Glenys Wong, Michelle Ting Chiong Sung and Rachael Chai Xin Ru with Mr Dennis Nur Amin Abdullah (left) and Ir Professor Lau Hieng Ho (right).

A total of 222 students from 26 schools participated in this year’s SSIDC, one of the largest English debating tournaments for secondary schools in the country. Apart from schools in Kuching, students came from as far as Maktab Rendah Sains MARA Betong in Betong, SMK Lake in Bau, SMK Lawas in Limbang Division and Kolej Tun Datu Tuanku Haji Bujang and SMK Lutong in Miri. Schools from other states that took part were Chung Ling Private High School from Penang, Foon Yew High School from Johor, Kolej Yayasan Saad from Melaka and Sabah Tshung Tsin Secondary School from Sabah.

In line with the Swinburne Debaters’ Club’s aim to encourage and inspire young and novice debaters, trophies were awarded to the Most Improved Team in the Senior and Junior Categories, namely SMK Batu Lintang and St Joseph’s International School respectively; Most Promising Team in the Senior and Junior Categories, namely Sabah Tshung Tsin Secondary School and Borneo International School respectively and the Best Sarawakian Team in the Senior and Junior Categories, namely SM Lodge and Chung Hua Middle School No 1 respectively.

The trophies were presented by Mr Dennis Nur Amin Abdullah, Assistant Director, Student Development Section, Co-Curriculum Unit, Sarawak State Education Department, representing the Director of the Sarawak State Education Department, and Swinburne Sarawak Pro Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive Officer Ir Professor Lau Hieng Ho.

Chief Adjudicator Dr Stanley Nwobodo said, “SSIDC is a learning curve for students and it is always rewarding to see students continue to grow to the next level. One thing to have in mind is win or lose, never lose focus of the bigger picture ahead. Continue to improve yourself.”

Swinburne Debaters’ Club Founding Advisor Dr Christina Yin remarked, “In this time of AI and automation, it is crucial for we humans to distinguish ourselves in our thinking, analytical and speaking skills. Debating is a skill that you will carry with you all your life. Congratulations to all of you for braving the debate floor and pushing yourselves to improve and to grow as thinkers and speakers.”     

Junior champions (from second left) Jood Ammar bin Sazzli Shahlan, Badrul Ariff bin Badrul Akmal and Zara Aleesya binti Abdul Haizal with Mr Dennis Nur Amin Abdullah (left) and Ir Professor Lau Hieng Ho (right).

Junior champions (from second left) Jood Ammar bin Sazzli Shahlan, Badrul Ariff bin Badrul Akmal and Zara Aleesya binti Abdul Haizal with Mr Dennis Nur Amin Abdullah (left) and Ir Professor Lau Hieng Ho (right).

In addition to these annual awards, the Platinum Sponsor, Sarawak Eco Warriors, presented the Best Team in the Environment Round to St Joseph’s Private School in the Senior Category and to Kolej Yayasan Saad Melaka in the Junior Category. All teams had debated on the motion chosen by the Sarawak Eco Warriors, a local conservation organisation that seeks to empower young people through workshops on youth and biodiversity governance, beach clean-ups and tree-planting activities, among others. The motion was “This House believes that teenagers should be consulted and allowed to vote in referendum on environment policies”.

Sarawak Eco Warriors Founding President and Swinburne alumnus Mark Liao said, “We are thrilled to participate in this year’s debate championship, as our values align profoundly with SSIDC’s objectives. While the youth are often hailed as the leaders of tomorrow, they are also among the most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. Preparing them to tackle these challenges is crucial, and this championship fosters critical thinking on a wide range of topics and issues.”

Other sponsors for this year’s tournament were Hock Seng Lee as well as long-time sponsors, the English Language Centre and John’s Pie. Funding from sponsors allowed the organisers to bring experienced adjudicators from other parts of the country to provide wise and fair adjudication for the tournament. Endorsed by the Ministry of Education and now in its 19th year, the tournament is a mainstay of the secondary schools’ English debating calendar.

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

Media Enquiries

Tania Lam
Officer (Communication and Events)


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