Event Review: The Singapore Muslim Youth Debate Grand Finals (2013)
Organizers: Youths of Darul Arqam (YODA) and Darul Arqam Singapore
Date, Time & Venue: 28th September 2013, 2pm-5pm, Masjid Sultan Auditorium.
Motion: Cultural and Religious Diversity in Singapore is Tolerated But Not Celebrated.
Praxis – Proposition (Winners)
1) Noor Hanisah
2) Siti Nur Atiqah (Best Speaker)
3) Nur Zahirah
4) Muhammad Haziq
5) Munira (Reserve)
NUS 1 – Opposition
1) Abdul Hakeem
2) Nur Abidah
3) Nazihah Husna
4) Nurul Huda Atiqa
5) Nadiah Aqilah (Reserve)
Chairperson: Abu Sufyan
1) Sim Khadijah Bte Mohamed – Assistant Registrar with The Supreme Court (Chief Adjudicator)
2) Ustaz Saif-ur-Rahman
3) Dr Albakri Ahmad – Dean of MUIS Academy
4) Guy Ghazali – Lawyer with Tan, Rajah & Cheah
5) Hyder Gulam – Qualified Lawyer and Fellow of the Royal College of Nursing
Team Praxis is the Grand Champions
Team Praxis emerged as Grand Champions of the Singapore Muslim Youth Debate 2013 after deservedly beating Team NUS 1.
Being the more confident side, Team Praxis laid out their points and arguments in a clear and concise manner as opposed to Team NUS 1 who seemed unable to gain any sort of momentum throughout the Debate Round.
What stood out for Team Praxis though was their debunking of Team NUS 1’s arguments in the Rebuttal Round. Dr Albakri Ahmad, Dean of MUIS Academy, agreed:
“They are very good at rebuttal, I think they won when they rebutted the arguments of the opposition but generally it was a very close match,” he said.
Siti Nur Atiqah of Team Praxis bagged the Best Speaker award for the Grand Finals, completing a hat trick of Best Speaker awards throughout the entire competition.
Chief Adjudicator Sim Khadijah Binte Mohamed described her as someone who “did embody a lot of very good debating and advocacy skills” and was very sharp at attacking the heart of the arguments and coming up with the best rebuttals.
Team Praxis, arguing for the motion “Cultural and Religious Diversity in Singapore is Tolerated But Not Celebrated”, centered and solidified their stand based on the lack of trust Singaporeans have towards the different religious and cultural practices.
They used clear examples such as the negative perception of local Muslims after the September 11 attack, widespread disagreement over foreign worker dorms being built in neighborhoods and open discrimination in online platforms to further cement their position.
On the other hand, opposition Team NUS 1 built their stand around various government initiatives for diversity and events such as the Chingay Parade and Pink Dot.
Unfortunately for Team NUS 1, Team Praxis were able to rebut and tear down their examples by explaining that efforts at embracing diversity are only present on the executive level of the country but not in the public at large.
Team Praxis also pointed out that Singaporeans are generally still conservative, especially towards issues such as homosexuality and that events such as Pink Dot were attended by only a tiny fraction of the community.
The Singapore Muslim Youth Debate 2013
The fourth run of the annual Muslim Youth Debate organized by the Youths of Darul Arqam, now renamed as the Singapore Muslim Youth Debate, saw an auditorium fully packed with supporters, participants and families.
Also present was Mr Muhd Faiz Edwin Ignatious M, President of Darul Arqam, Mr Ridzuan Wu, Deputy President of Darul Arqam and Mr Ariff Sultan, Vice President of Darul Arqam’s Da’wah Division.
The Singapore Muslim Youth Debate, first started in 2010, was set up to encourage youths to come together to discuss and debate various contemporary issues affecting the community.
“It is an excellent platform for youths to do research and reading but also to keep abreast with the issues that they are currently facing,” said Dr Albakri Ahmad. “And it is an exemplary method of getting the youth to be engaging, to participate and organize events like this on this scale.”
Most of the participants of this year’s competition were first time debaters. Abdul Hakeem of Team NUS 1 said that his whole team had no prior debating experience when they entered the completion, not expecting that they would be able to reach the finals.
For Muhammad Haziq of Team Praxis, which claimed the title of Grand Champions, it was also his first time debating.
“None of us were part of Team Praxis (last year)… In my team only one of them had prior debating experience,” he said.
Regarding his team’s strategy throughout the competition, Haziq said that they would dissect the key terms of the motion, explore the definitions, lie out the perimeter of debate and then assign their roles.
“We will elaborate on each other’s points so the next time we meet up we’ll critic on each others points. So technically before the debate we’ll have a debate between ourselves first so we’ll manage to cover up most of our flaws before hand,” he said.
The competition’s overall-in-charge Miss Nur Hani Nasir, who was also in charge last year, explained that the universities’ participation this time round helped inject more challenge into the competition.
“Especially if you look at it as a university versus a madrasah and a madrasah student is as young as 15-years-old against the 22 to 23-year-old students (from universities). So it’s a big challenge for them,” she said.
There was feedback that the competition’s wide age range of 15-25 would present a disadvantage to teams with younger participants who are mostly from Madrasahs. Addressing this, Miss Nur Hani explained that the younger Madrasah students would have teachers to guide them through their research and have their school’s support while the university teams are mostly on their own.
Regarding improvements for next year, Miss Nur Hani said that the team would look into further improving and refining the motions of debate and possibly, the judging system, “Because now the adjudicators go by vote but we have some feedback on why don’t you go by point system? Definitely we’ll take that into consideration but we may or may not adopt that.”