Kuching, Sibu and Miri schools to compete in Swinburne Sarawak debating championship

Christina Yin … tournament gaining interest

KUCHING – Three secondary schools from Miri and two from Sibu will be among 25 competing in this year’s World Schools Debating Championship organised by the Debaters’ Club of Swinburne University of Technology Sarawak Campus.

The tournament, to take place at the university from 4 to 7 April, will see a total of 72 teams in the fray for the championship trophy.

This is the first time schools from other towns will be taking part in the six-year history of the championship.

The schools from Miri are Kolej Tun Datu Tunku Haji Bujang, SMK Chung Hua, and SMK St Columba. Each will be represented by two teams.

From Sibu, SMK St Elizabeth will be represented by two teams and SMK Methodist will have one team participating in the tournament.

Students and staff from these schools will be provided accommodation at Swinburne Sarawak’s fully-furnished on-campus hostels.

“We are thrilled that schools from other towns are interested and taking part in the tournament,” said Christina Yin, advisor of the university’s Debaters’ Club which organises the event annually.

“Clearly, this is an indication that this championship is gaining interest among schools throughout Sarawak,” she said. “We hope more will participate next year.”

The tournament, said Yin, is to encourage students of secondary schools to debate in English and sharpen their oral and communication skills as well as their reasoning and critical thinking skills.

The championship, which was originally a student initiative, is intended to be a student-organised event to allow members of the Debaters’ Club and other student volunteers to develop their organisational skills. This year’s organising chairperson is Foundation Business student Cassandra Ong, who is assisted by Commerce undergraduate Stephen Huong.

Last year’s winners … The senior team from Lodge International School took the championship trophy in last year’s tournament. Joining them is Professor Helmut Lueckenhausen, Pro Vice-Chancellor and Chief executive of Swinburne Sarawak.

The World Schools Debating style is organised in such a way that motions (topics) are given to debaters only 30 minutes before they are pitted against one another, although students will know the research areas about two weeks before the tournament.

Debaters therefore need to have good general knowledge to form opinions and make arguments in a very short period of time.

Adjudicators, or judges, comprise mainly Swinburne Sarawak lecturers as well as senior members of the Debaters’ Club, participating school teachers and some independent individuals with debating backgrounds.

The chief adjudicator for the upcoming event is Dr Sucharit Pongprakyun from Kota Kinabalu, an experienced debater since his years as an undergraduate at Universiti Putra Malaysia. He will be assisted by his former debate opponent Irzal Kamal Helme from the International Islamic University, Kuala Lumpur.

Apart from the championship title, also up for grabs are awards for the top five Best Debaters in the Junior (Forms 1 to 3) and Senior (Forms 4 to 6) categories, Best Speaker of English, Most Promising Team, Best Debater in each Final and Champions in each category.

Last year, 44 teams from 13 secondary schools took part in the tournament, and Lodge International School and SM Lodge swept the senior and junior championship titles respectively.

The Swinburne Debaters’ Club is assisted by volunteers from the Swinburne Dance Club, Green Club, Red Crescent Club, Rotoract Club and the Student Council.

Sponsors for this event include Data Print, Fui Lip and Kim Bay Restaurant Sdn Bhd.

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