Jointly reported by:
Ng Yan Wen Sr1ScF 17188
Ng Choon Hau Sr2A 16066
On two consecutive Saturdays May 30th and June 6th, HELP University held their annual English Debate Workshop— online. In response to the imposition of the Movement Control Order (MCO) to curb the spread of Covid-19, HELP University has gone online and beyond Malaysia’s borders. This year, schools from all over Asia were open to come participate in both workshops held over Microsoft Teams meeting platform. The one held on May 30th was for beginners, whilst the one on June 6th was for regulars.
The May 30th beginners’ workshop saw the participation of seven of our school’s Debate Club rookies, along with 74 others from schools all over Malaysia. Twelve members from our school that were to attend the following week’s regulars’ workshop were present as well, acting as timekeepers and chairpersons for the crux of the event: the practical debates, which would come later in the day.
The workshop schedule was the same as previous years, with minimal fixes. After roll call, Mr Lai Sin Siang, the organiser from HELP University gave everyone an in-depth rundown of the rules of Asian Parliamentary style debating. Then, as the debaters adjourned to prepare for the afternoon showdowns, the attending teachers were given a briefing on adjudicating debates.
At 12:30 p.m. the debaters and adjudicators filed into the separate virtual conference rooms for the debates to commence. Two debaters from our school were matched with a debater from SMJK Heng Ee, Penang to go against a team from Chung Hwa Independent High School, Kelantan. Unfortunately, our team lost. However, the two teams from our school that competed in the second session, which started at 2:30p.m., garnered more favourable results, beating the two teams from SM Kai Dee Bintulu and Sekolah Menengah Sin Min Persendirian, Sungai Petani.
A team member from an opposing team in the beginner’s workshop
On June 6th, twelve of our dutiful members attended the workshop for regulars, which lasted from 8:30 in the morning to 4:30 in the afternoon. The morning was mostly spent on a talk by Madam Audrey Koh, an alumna of HELP University and an experienced figure in the world of English debating. She enlightened everyone with some eye-opening tips on how to build a brilliant case (things to do before, during, and after a debate), and wield wordplay to one’s advantage, both of which would come to be used in the afternoon practical debates.
The regular practical debates pitted a total of 42 debaters from 8 different schools in teams of threes against each other. Kuen Cheng’s Debate Club had four teams of our best, up against teams from Foon Yew High School, Jit Sin Independent High School, Sabah Tshung Tsin Secondary School, and SMJK Kuching High. The results of our showdowns were relatively average, with two wins and losses from the four teams.
One of our regular debaters, Sophia Ng Szu Fei from Sr1ScA, right
However, in the two workshops, due to software issues and miscommunication, several participants were absent and unable to attend. Entire teams going missing and adjudicators unable to join their respective rooms caused the first workshop’s practical debates to be delayed by an hour as the organiser scrambled to reassign teams to deserted members. This led to Ng Choon Hau from the beginner’s workshop and Tham Yuanyi from the regular’s workshop being appointed as last minute replacements, debating twice in a row on the spot.
Presidents Scott Koh Jia Hang and Tham Yuanyi were both satisfied with the participating members’ performances, even though they had missed out on 3 months’ worth of training. The presidents hoped that club members were able to purpose this experience and exposure into improvement for their debating skills. The competing schools were, in their opinion, talented in their own ways and a great inspiration to learn from. They had both expressed desire in taking part again next year, stating how good this workshop is for members in identifying their strengths and weaknesses through applying their skills in a standard debate competition setting.