Saturday, September 12, 2015


1.  25 years ago, the very first DEBAT ALAM SEKITAR (DAS) was initiated. As a young ferocious and ‘idealist’ (fuh!) science undergraduate, I led my team UM and marched all the way to the final. 

Despite touted as the hot favourite to win the title, we lost marginally to an all-female team from UPM, which tackled the motion with a sharper approach. I learnt my first bitter lesson in debate: never un
derestimate your opponent. When the battle begins: it no longer discriminates the superiors from the inferiors. It is about who is mentally stronger, and who fights with better strategies.

The following year, my team was defeated by UIAM in the semifinal. It was a very strong team, and they won the final relatively easy against UKM. So by then, for two years in a row, UM lost to the eventual champions. It also officially marked the beginning of rivalry between two of the most feared debating teams in Malaysia (then!): UM and UIAM. But other teams would soon catch up and the competition has gradually become more even.

2.  I captained again UM the year after, for the third consecutive times. But with less expectation and much lesser pressure. It was my final year in the university, and I participated purely for the joy of debating. Then the magic happened, we won it! The final was not as dramatic as it should be, because it was versus UTM, a team that we were naturally expected to beat. But the semifinal against the defending champion UIAM: that was neck to neck until to the very end.

That highly anticipated semifinal was a double victory for me; UM finally defeated the powerful UIAM, and I was declared the best speaker. It was a sweet revenge against Khairil Anas Jusoh (who led UIAM) – arguably one of the finest and wittiest Malaysian debaters of all times. By the way, he now carries the title Dato’ and is currently serving as the leading advisor for PM.

3.  Debat adalah salah satu platform terbaik memupuk bakat generasi muda bagaimana mengolah aliran logik idea. Sebab dalam debat kita dituntut menggali fakta, bukan sekadar pok-pek macam Kiah Ronggeng baru keluar kabaret. Debat juga mengasuh kita berhujah dengan autoriti dan wibawa. Bukan main serkap jarang macam pahlawan internet yang feeling-feeling menteri kabinet. Seni debat bukan sekadar kepandaian berkata-kata. Yang lebih utama adalah pemikiran dan pengisian substances.

Selepas 25 tahun, DAS sudah melahirkan ramai figura berpengaruh dalam pelbagai bidang. Ini kejohanan debat tertua bagi kategori universiti. Untuk menghayati prestijnya dalam konteks orator Malaysia, mari saya terjemahkan aura itu dalam bahasa sukan global. In football, DAS is equivalent to the super competitive and glamorous World Cup. In tennis, DAS is the glorious Wimbledon. And in badminton, DAS is the prestigious All England. You get it now?

4.  Winning the DAS doesn’t necessarily put you among the great debaters. But if you never win this elusive title, you will never qualify to be even considered one of the greats. So it is a real honour for me to be part of this long legacy. To be in the first batch of DAS; to be one of the earliest alumni of this historically rich tournament. By now you probably wonder: what is the occasion today that suddenly brings me to revisit this nostalgia?

OK, sebenarnya begini bah. Saya sedang dalam perjalanan ke Universiti Teknologi Petronas (Perak). Melaksanakan mandat sebagai Ketua Hakim pertandingan Debat Alam Sekitar sempena sambutan jubli perak. Majoriti pendebat dari 30 institusi seluruh negara yang bakal menyertai kejohanan unggul ini – belum lagi lahir semasa saya beraksi di pentas akhir 25 tahun dulu. Saya tidak tau fakta ini patut buat saya rasa bangga dan hebat; atau patut buat saya rasa tua kederat. Well, whatever.

5.  As a former champion: I know what it takes to win. I also know how it feels when losing. Saya fikir semua pendebat juga ada naluri ini. But I don’t think there are many who really understand the legacy of DAS. How it has evolved from a mere conventional debate to what it is now – kombinasi debat terbuka dan ala parlimen – the one and only. Pertandingan ini terlalu kaya dengan reputasi, sejarah dan tradisi.

I hope every participating team is mentally prepared for the challenge, and ready to fulfil the expectation. And together, will make this a great tournament. Because if you are not well equipped – then you know who are you dealing with. Rem Dambul is no ordinary Ketua Hakim, ok. He is the oldest alumnus of this prestigious championship. Bersedialah kena taji, ya. smile emoticon

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