My father used to give lectures at local mosques , before he passed away. There were about a dozen different places that he went in rotation every month. His students were mostly retired old men; pensioners, and they called him a "guru taalim". Some of his students were his own teacher from his school days. Most of them were twenty years older than him. My father was not a preacher; he was a high school maths teacher; and I do not understand how, or why, but people asked him to talk about hadith every other night. My father himself told them that he was not a preacher; he's a maths teacher, but people does not seem to mind that at all.
His younger brother also gives lectures at local mosques. To my eyes, my father and his brother were essentially the same. They have two sets of cars of the same model , a house with a similar plan and an eerily similar location . They have the same number of eight children, and got married at about the same age . They both have the same hobby, and both of them are teachers during the day. Even their acts and quirks are strangely similar-but there was one thing that made them complete opposites. Their way of giving those night lectures were so different, it's like comparing karipap with lasagna.
My father would calmly read hadiths and their translations from his books, then he would take off his glasses and face his audience. He gave his students brief comments from the writers' point of view, then he would explain it from his own opinion, in a perfectly professional and academic way-and as a child I found that so boring. He kept his voice down in front of his senior students; all of whom listened to him tentatively. He looked like a real professor in a lecture hall, where students who were forced to attend-like I was with him- would fall asleep minutes after the lecture starts.
His brother in the other hand is a very provocative speaker. His voice is very loud and clear. If you happen to pass by a mosque in Muar, and you can hear the lecturer's voice three blocks away, that's probably him. My uncle's way of speech is able to make his audience cry their hearts out, and his students are old men and women with grandkids. He is able to exert pressure upon steel hearts and break them to pieces. The only similarity between their lectures is that they would try to relate their contents with worldly affairs; BN's corruptions, the government's aversion to religion , and voters' responsibility in the Hereafter-my father explains, while his brother provokes, and as a result , my uncle got banned from several mosques which have hardcore macais, among them was the royal Masjid Sultan Ibrahim.
I joined high school debates to show my father that his way of giving lectures was boring, and that I was a better speaker than he ever was. I preferred my uncle's brave and provocative way of speech; loud and unforgiving. I spoke from the depths of my heart , and preferred personal attacks as my favourite weapon. The thunderous claps and laughter from the audience every time I speak made me assume that such provocations were the essence of debates. I once called a female debater an "elephant with big ears, but apparently deaf". It felt kinda cool back then-sorry , my bad. The ratio of my personal attacks to the facts that I presented was about 6:3. I gained support from the audience, but to my surprise, my team lost every competition we went in, even though we were spontaneous speakers, and our counterparts refer to written texts word by word.
I learned that my provocations reduced our points, and the lack of contextual evidence to support our premises, added with my sharp personal attacks led to our downfall. Well, calling a girl an elephant isn't exactly something tolerable.
I was not able to proove anything to my father , as he passed away before I could win anything. He cheated in our competition by dying first.
Later on, I went to my uncle's lectures to study his skills again; as I believed that his way of speech was still the better option. But then, I was honestly surprised; I found that his lectures weren't provocative at all; I as a child had misunderstood him. I was wrong. His way of explaining things was actually similar to my father-too similar in fact, it was just that his voice was way louder! Should he reduce the loudness of his voice, then they would be perfectly alike. Words cannot explain how taken aback I was. I watched recordings of our previous debates, and only God knows how ashamed I was to hear how stupid I sound in those videos.
The essence of a debate is to present an idea to the audience, not to make them laugh. I was a joker back then, not a debater. The facts presented must correlate with the main idea, and in order to do so, I had to be able to make the audience confident with the words that I say. I need to make the audience understand my premise , more than to make them agree with my words. The point of a debate was not to determine the winner, but to find out whose logic is better. After all, even though I gained the most support from the audience, the judges cannot accept my logical fallacies. It is a battle of ideas, not plain provocations and crude words.
Then, in what way are debates unacceptable to the macai community? I believe that the reason that our beloved Prime Minister rejects every debate is that they have exactly no evidence to support their arguments. Pakatan brought forth their manifesto, facts of BN's corruptions, new ideas for a better living; everything that shows their readiness to govern. Macais on the other hand had nothing but sex tapes and plain provocations. They created baseless assumptions using politics of fear; PR's victory means a collapsed nation, LGBT, civil war ...the list goes on.
There is no way that BN's representatives can win debates with assumptions and sex tapes. That's what they meant when they stated that debates aren't part of our culture, I suppose. Plain word wars and crude provocations are a better option, I guess.
In order to create a better future for the nation, our leaders should indulge in debates, in order to present better ideas to the people, rather than slanders and lies. Debates often results in the creation of new ideas; it is after all just a more intense form of a discussion.
Should our PM choose to further refuse to join debates, Piala Perdana Menteri should be changed to Piala Ketua Pembangkang. That way, the dignity of the glamorous competition can be restored. Nobody puts the title of a cowardly speaker for a debate competition .
Back to my story , my fellow debaters and I changed our way of speech drastically , and we managed to win some of the competitions. Alhamdulillah, for a happy ending.
But then, even after all those victories, I still lost to my father, because I only copied what he did, and created nothing new out of it. I lost to a dead man.
And our PM can't even join a debate.