Written by Chee Gee Ren
The Sunway Debate Open 2018 (SUNDO), a two-day event held on the 21st and 22nd of July, was an Open debate tournament in the British Parliamentary style organised by the Sunway Debate Club (SUNDEC). The tournament was the second one in Sunway University this year and marked the beginning of the British Parliamentary debating season in Sunway.
Participants came from all levels of experience, from beginners debating in their first tournament to the crème de la crème of the debating scene. The eclectic mix of people, totalling around 60 teams of 2, made the tournament a competitive and interesting one. Will Tan and Dzul Iskandar from SUNDEC were the conveners of the tournament. The adjudication core included esteemed names such as Leeroy Ting, Sara Abdul Rahim and Muayyad Khairulmaini.
Early on the first day, the debaters registered for the event before proceeding to Lecture Theatre 2 for a briefing. The preliminary round consisted of 5 debates, with the top 16 teams advancing to the elimination rounds. Additionally, the top 8 novice teams (debaters who have not advanced to the elimination rounds of more than 2 tournaments or joined the 4 major global tournaments) are eligible to qualify for the novice elimination rounds. Draws for the preliminary rounds are released before motions are shown, after which teams have 15 minutes to prepare for their debate.
The British Parliamentary style of debate is distinct from the Asian Parliamentary style, a head-to-head debate with 3 debaters per team. A British Parliamentary debate consists of 4 teams, which are the Opening Government, Opening Opposition, Closing Government and Closing Opposition. The opening benches operate similarly to Asian Parliamentary debaters, presenting arguments and rebuttals, while the closing benches have to present extensions of presented arguments to distinguish themselves from their opening counterparts. The teams are ranked based on their performance, earning points that will determine if they advance to the elimination rounds.
French philosopher Michel de Montaigne said, “There is no conversation more boring than the one where everybody agrees.” Debates are engaging scholarly discussions on an array of contemporary issues, ranging from philosophy to sports. The government side will support a given motion and the opposition side will oppose it, making clashes in debates inevitable. Debaters will have to come up with strong arguments, backed by structured analysis and clear explanations, to defend their positions and clinch a victory. The motions for SUNDO, prepared by the adjudication core, were sure to produce compelling debates. Many were themed on current affairs such as the efficacy of a soft and hard Brexit and the ethics of implementing a social rating system to determine one’s socioeconomic status, a system existing in China now.
The novice finals, featuring 3 local teams and one from Sriwijaya University, Indonesia, was a heated discussion on the social rating system. After a well-debated round, team ‘Sunway DE’ claimed the title of winning novice team, with Edmund Kong named best speaker for the round. The open finals, spectated by all participants, was closely fought between the top 4 teams of the tournament on the morality of pursuing excessive wealth. Team ‘Mr. CA, I don’t feel too good’ from Singapore emerged as the winners of SUNDO, with the honour of best speaker for the round going to Arthur Lee. Amrit Agastia was named the best speaker of the tournament, while Sara Shafek was the best novice speaker.
SUNDO 2018 was well received, running on schedule and utilising Sunway University’s world-class facilities. Participants managed to gain invaluable experience being a part of extremely competitive discussions, ultimately improving their critical thinking and grasp of contemporary issues.