Inaugural Methodist Schools Debate Cup Fostering friendship, debating culture in the Methodist family of schools

Neha with the Best Individual Performance Challenge Cup named after Mr Earnest Lau (right). — ACJC picture.

THE inaugural Methodist Schools Debate Cup, a tournament organised by the Oratorical and Debating Society of Anglo-Chinese Junior College (ACJC), was a resounding success.

The idea for this tournament was mooted earlier this year: it would be a golden opportunity for debaters from all the seven Methodist institutions at the secondary level to gather and learn from each other in competitive but friendly debates, as well as to establish friendships with each other. The seven institutions are Anglo-Chinese School (Independent), Anglo-Chinese School (Barker Road), Fairfield Methodist Secondary School, Geylang Methodist Secondary School, Methodist Girls’ School, Paya Lebar Methodist Girls’ Secondary School and St Francis Methodist School.

The hotly-contested tournament, held on Oct 26, 2002, was made prestigious because of its chief sponsors: Bishop Dr Robert Solomon and Mr Earnest Lau, a past principal of ACS. ACJC is grateful that Bishop Dr Solomon agreed to sponsor the challenge cup for the Best Team Performance, and Mr Lau the Best Individual Performance challenge cup, for the most consistent debater of the tournament.

Both Bishop Dr Solomon and Mr Lau were present at the closing ceremony of the tournament to say a few words, give away the prizes, and on the Bishop’s part, to say a closing prayer for the competition.

Some of the schools sent two teams to the tournament, bringing the total number of participating teams to 10.

The competition involved three debates in a day. This was a gruelling contest, for most secondary school tournaments put teams through only one debate a day, and any one debate was often up to two weeks apart from another. Also, to top it all off, the Methodist Schools Debate Cup had one impromptu round of debating, which meant that instead of having one week to prepare for a topic, teams were given their topics only one hour before the commencement of the debate match.

The Earnest Lau Cup for Best Individual Performance was won by Neha Prakash of Methodist Girls’ School and the Bishop Dr Solomon Cup went to Anglo-Chinese School (Independent) Team 2.

Mr Lau delivered what he called “a few words” before awarding Neha the challenge cup, extolling the virtues of arguing a point in debates, which he deemed a skill both difficult to master, and extremely valuable.

Bishop Dr Solomon, before dismissing the debaters with his closing prayer, added that he hoped some of the talented speakers of the Methodist schools might one day find their way into pastoral ministry. This brought a warm round of applause from the debaters and teachers in the audience.

One of the ACJC debate teachers, Mrs Geetha Creffield, repeatedly told the organising committee that “this tournament is about fostering stronger ties within our Methodist family of schools, and then it is about the debating. Let’s try to keep that in mind”.

Joshua Tan Le-On is a first-year arts student in Anglo-Chinese Junior College. He is a member of the National debate team of Singapore, which will compete in the World Schools Debating Championships in August 2003 in Peru.