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.
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.
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viral attention especially among Malay-Muslim groups after an Islamic school that took part in the debate had allegedly withdrawn from the competition.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.
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.
Public opinion on the controversy seems to agree that the debate was indeed inappropriate for a competition involving 13 and 15-year-olds
as a subject to be debating about. They are students, they are just 13-15 years old. The motions are too heavy for that age. So piala tun razak issa big turn off.— pia (@imsofhea) October 15, 2019
The problem with piala tun razak issues is it touches Holy Koran as the significant part of the motion. There are a tens, even hundreds of other motions that can be debated on lgbt issues. Kenapa nak touch pasal ubah kandungan al-quran which is very disrespectful— haikal 🇲🇾 (@irfanpomelo) October 15, 2019
“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
Im a debater too, at least a couple of times. And I really like to debate on most of the topic except the motion of rewriting the Al-Quran. Despite the explanation sounds logical. It's against my belief to even think about it.— وان عقيل حازيم (@snowkenobi) October 15, 2019
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.
Dear whiny kiddy debaters,— Hazrina Z. Azizdin (@hazrina_azizdin) October 15, 2019
If you don’t have the intellectual curiosity to see a topic from a different point of view or are scared that arguing in favour of ‘liberal’ motions will destroy your aqidah, please get the hell out of the game.
An annoyed retired debater
and honestly debate is about viewing something from a different perspective . so i really don't get why you gotta be so soft over the topics when all you gotta do is agree/disagree . no need to believe it . just focus on the debate— 𝖘𝖆𝖗𝖆 (@sarahbelacan) October 15, 2019
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.