The Indonesian debating community mourned after hearing Permata Harahap, or simply known as Perry, died on February 6, 2014. Perry co-founded the English Debating Society Universitas Indonesia, the club that pioneered the activity of competitive debating in the country. The national 3-on-3 championship, the Indonesian Varsities English Debate (IVED), was his brainchild and he convened the first of its kind in 1998. He was the pillar of a community that started small but now has turned into a society of thousands.
For many debaters, they have lost a coach who was willing to go to all corners of the country to train students and proliferate the values of competitive debating. He did not only coached numerous EDSUI teams but also developed speakers of other universities, including Universitas Atma Jaya Jakarta and Universitas Paramadina where he was pursuing his master's degree. His former trainees fondly remember his calm yet strong presence. Some who never met him can also recall their first sessions of debating practice was based on a guidebook that Perry authored.
For others, he was the example of a sharp third speaker and feared opponent. He won the first ALSA UI debate contest way back in 1996 when internationally accepted formats were unknown in Indonesia. He then went to the 1997 Asian Intervarsity Debating Championships as a member of the first Indonesian contingent in the regional tourney. From there he mastered the international styles and went on to become the finalist of the 1st Java Overland Varsities English Debate in 1997, the first tournament using an accepted format. He also debated in the 1998 ASEAN Varsities Debate in Kuala Lumpur and the 1999 All-Asians in Bangkok. Team mates and rivals respect his ability to dissect cases and present logically solid arguments.
On February 16, the former and current debaters who miss Perry will hold a tribute for him after a family-held prayers. The wake will take place from 1 pm at the Paladian Apartment club house in Kelapa Gading, North Jakarta, right beside the hospital where he was treated during his final days. The event is open to all friends, debaters and those who only know him by reputation.