So, 2 adjudicators of the Piala Tun Razak 2019 debate tournament came under fire and public scrutiny for motioning sensitive subjects during the secondary-school debate competition hosted at Sekolah Dato Abdul Razak, Seremban recently.

(Image Credit: Reddit)

Piala Tun Razak or the Tun Razak Cup is an annual debate competition for Form 1 and Form 3 students from Malaysia’s top boarding schools in an all-out intellectual battle.

The 3 motions tabled by adjudicators, Mohammad Aidil Ali and Iyad Zakiy Amal, in the Cup’s pre-quarterfinals round required contestants to deliberate on topics relating to; the separation between church and state, how the Quran would be reinterpreted in moderate Islamic terms and the views of homosexuality in Islam.

Screenshot of the 3 motions presented during the debate from the Tun Razak Cup official Instagram page, which has now been deactivated
(Image Credit: Facebook)

The debate attracted viral attention especially among Malay-Muslim groups after an Islamic school that took part in the debate had allegedly withdrawn from the competition.

Facing mass criticism over the religious overtones of the topics, the two adjudicators, who were apparently Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM) students, came out with a statement apologizing for their actions.

(Image Credit: Facebook)

The duo stressed that the religious themes presented during the competition were only meant as hypothetical, intellectual scenarios and had no intentions to “brainwash” students or pushing a “liberal agenda”.

Surprisingly, the motions issued during the debate was done so without prior consultation and discussion with the host of the debate.

Following the widespread controversy, the Prime Minister’s Department questioned why such topics were selected for the competition and criticised the tournament for disregarding Muslim sensitivities and questioning Islamic beliefs.

Meanwhile, the Education Ministry said that is reviewing whether action should be taken against the debate adjudicators stating that standard procedure does not allow for debates to touch on delicate religious, ethnic and cultural issues that may threaten national security.

UiTM stated that they had no knowledge that their students participated in the program.

They said that the debate organizers had reached out to the duo directly.

(Image Credit: Facebook)

Public opinion on the controversy seems to agree that the debate was indeed inappropriate for a competition involving 13 and 15-year-olds

“The problem with Tun Razak Cup issues is it touches Holy Koran as the significant part of the motion. There are tens, even hundreds of other motions that can be debated on LGBT issues. Why touch about changing the contents of the Quran which is very disrespectful.”

via Twitter

But, there are those who say that an intellectual platform such as the debate is the appropriate place to have discussions on such sensitive issues.

To put into perspective, a debate is a formal discussion on a particular subject matter where opposing arguments are put forward to argue opposing viewpoints, oftentimes in the presence of a moderator and an audience.

Student debates usually involve a discussion or structured contest on certain issues or resolutions, where one side argues in support of the idea, while the other opposes it.

Each side needs to support an argument with evidence, facts, figures, stats and sources and present their case during a set amount of time for the judges to decide on a winner.


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(Adjudicators respond to criticism over debate topics on Islam, Quran)
(PM's Dept slams debating championship for disregarding Muslim sensitivities)
(Education Ministry mulls action against debate jury chiefs, says no ‘sensitive’ ethno-religious topics allowed)
(Debat kontroversi: UiTM akan ambil tindakan)

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