Saiful Amin:My Beginning As A Debater

Posted on June 11, 2009


I never debated during my school days except in one inter-class tournament where I suprisingly upstaged the supposed best speaker in the school. I was really fired up that day simply because he said something negative about my pink striped tee shirt. Still, I was considered not good enough to represent the school. Thus I quit debating and concentrated on ‘silat’ and cricket. (Wasn’t that good at both also but some girls said I looked kinda cute in my ‘Silat’ attire@ good enough for me)

In 1989 I was accepted into UPM in their matriculation program. I took part in two Public Speaking tourneys as I did not really want to be fully involve in the then famous orientation program, and finished 2nd in the BM category and 3rd in the English respectively. In 1991 I was selected as the team manager for my college team(I was really wondering why not as a speaker but the girls chosen were much better in terms of poise and looks, I didn’t really complain). The all girl team made it to the finals and they were, all in their special cute ways, said how indebted they were to me for getting them to the finals.( I really thought that I did not do much other than vetting their points as we generally get our topics at least one week in advance those days).

Somehow or rather the organizer turned evil on us. They earlier informed us that the finals was slotted to be on the coming Saturday night but sent an ex-bouncer officer with a loud-speaker lecturer to cordially inform us that it is tomorrow night, kindly forgetting that the other team was informed of this change 3 days earlier. In good sportmanship albeit with a lot of crying, we went, took part and lost. But I was angry, I was so angry at being Shanghaied that I walked up to the organizer and told them with as much venom as I could muster, that next year I will be back as a speaker and I will trash every single team up against my beloved Sixth College. True to my word, I dished rugby for a full month preparing my team next year and won the 1991 UPM Inter College Title together with the best speaker title.

I was happy and also in a boastful mood. I told the organizers that I will come back next year and do the same again which I duly did in 1992. I was satisfied and went back to the real love of my life, the mud and blood of the rugby field. Somewhere in between those months, I went with a strange team to the IIU Australs where my speakers did not really want to debate. After the second round which we won, one of my speakers got ill and luckily I had a nice Singaporean speaker replacing her. Needless to say we did not do well in that tourney.

My rugby team team got third in 1993 Inter-college and I was a permanent fixture in the UPM Angels’ B team when I got a message from the UPM Student Affairs Department that they want to send a team to Australia for the Australs and there will be a selection. I thought.. well never been to Australia before… 3 stitches on my forehead… left knee not doin so well… Sure.