NUSPA debate series 2019
Commentary | Ayisha Sithika, Events Associate Editor
NUSPA Debate Series took place from 23 February 2019 to 29 February 2019 in University Town.
The annual debate series held by NUSPA hopes to encourage pre-university students to be interested in Singapore related issues. I was given the opportunity to witness the engaging final round of debate between Temasek Polytechnic and Victoria Junior College(A).
The motion for the Grand Finals was: “As the Singapore government, This House would rely on bilateral initiatives rather than international intervention to resolve the Singapore-Malaysia maritime dispute.”
Temasek Polytechnic and Victoria Junior College (A) emerged as finalists from 32 teams after rounds of intense debating.
The finalists had to debate the motion “As the Singapore government, This House would rely on bilateral initiatives rather than international intervention to resolve the Singapore-Malaysia maritime dispute” with Temasek Polytechnic as proposition and Victoria Junior College(A) as opposition.
The motions given throughout the event were a reflection of Singapore’s current events to let participants to gain a better understanding of these questions.
The proposition mainly argued that bilateral initiatives would help contain the conflict and prevent further escalation.
The team pointed out that the current tensions with Malaysia are due to political manoeuvers by the new government to shift public opinion and that Singapore should not feed to this rhetoric by engaging with international intervention.
Speakers heavily emphasised that engaging with the international community would worsen the current relationships with not only Malaysia but also ASEAN neighbours.
Proposition claimed that as a key member of ASEAN, countries look towards Singapore as an example and engaging with ICJ at the first sign of tension is worrying.
The opposition claimed that since the maritime dispute a political manoeuver it will not hold in international courts and thus Singapore would be able to resolve this issue efficiently.
Opposition argued that the maritime dispute involves the issue of sovereignty that Singapore cannot concede on through bilateral initiatives.
Furthermore, by engaging with international courts Singapore would be able to gain backing and support from the international community. They rebutted that Singapore would set a good example for ASEAN to respect the rule of law.
Both teams gave engaging and thought-provoking speeches. The first and third speakers from Temasek Polytechnic were particularly engaging with the use of interesting analogies and metaphors for the situation.
The team from Temesak Polytechnic were able to clinch the grand trophy in the end with the prize of best speaker going to the third speaker from Temesak Polytechnic.
I applaud the finalists for giving the audience a passionate and captivating debate leading the audience to think deeper into the maritime dispute between Singapore and Malaysia.
At the end of the debate series, I felt that the event met its goal of raising awareness on real-time issues in Singapore.
About the author: Ayisha Sithika is a first-year Political science major from the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. She is currently on staff with The Convergence as Associate Editor (Events). She adores to read and watch Korean dramas. She currently hopes to gain a better understanding of exercise and develop a love for it.