KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysian Debate Team made history after it reached the semifinals for the first time at the World Schools Debating Championship (WSDC).
The team also received the Best 'English as a Second Language' Team Award.
The Malaysian World Schools Debate Education Society (MWSDES), in a statement said that Team Malaysia consisted of Arjun Gunalan from St. Joseph's Institution International Malaysia, Teioh Nuan Ning from Tuanku Ja'afar College, Umar Fazlan Azri from Garden International School, Lee Yao Ming from Australian International School Malaysia and Sim Yang Ming from Sunway College A-Level.
The team had broken the glass ceiling for the national debate team by defeating the likes of Team England, New Zealand, Poland, France, Germany, Zimbabwe, the Czech Republic and Australia throughout the competition.
"Team Malaysia was also the only non-Western and non-native English team standing as they share this milestone with Team Scotland, Canada and the USA.
"These five members were selected after three stages of nationwide trials against 200 other debating talents, and they have received rigorous training for the last eight months in preparation for WSDC.
"Throughout the season, they have dominated the international debating scene by winning numerous competitions, such as the Asia World Schools Debate Open, Protea WSDC, and Malaysia International WSDC."
The organisation also said that three out of five members also received speaker awards during the championship.
"Umar Fazlan Azri was awarded 7th Best ESL Speaker and Overall 12th Best Speaker, Teioh Nuan Ning was awarded 9th Best ESL Speaker and Overall 14th Best Speaker, and Arjun Gunalan was awarded Overall 23rd Best Speaker."
The debate team's head coach Mai Mokhsein said that the effort by the debaters was years in the making.
"This is the second and third attempt for many of our team members and it's no exaggeration to say that they have put in thousands of hours in order to break this record.
"They have trail-blazed a path for future Team Malaysias, and I am certain that this will not be the last time our national team reaches the semifinals.
"We are ultimately aiming for gold, and what this year has proven to us is that determination, discipline, and hard work does pay off," Mai said.
The WSDC is the most prestigious global debating championships for students aged 14 to 19 years old with this year's edition hosted in Hanoi, Vietnam where it also marks the first in-person competition since the global pandemic pushed the last three years into virtual platforms.
It also marks the largest WSDC ever hosted with 64 nations competing from six continents.