Singapore Red Cross Hosts National Level IHL Debate Championships

28 teams from all over Singapore gathered at the Anglo Chinese School recently to compete at the national round of the IHL Debate Championships 2014. Set across two days in 14 classrooms with 64 adjudicators from the Debating Association of Singapore, the event saw fierce competition from some of the country’s finest young debaters.
IHL Debate 2014

This year’s competition was organized by the Singapore Red Cross working in association with the Debate Association of Singapore. Ms Faiszah A. Hamid, Head of the Singapore Red Cross Academy explained, “This year, we extended the competition to the upper secondary school students and the participation rate from the secondary schools proves that there is interest in the realm of IHL even at that age. It also proves that more and more young people are seeing the need and relevance of IHL especially with what is going on in the Middle East and Ukraine lately”.IHL Debate 2014

Watching students from Secondary 3 and 4 (15 & 16 year olds) debate the first round motion “This house would allow the use of chemical weapons”, the passion and intensity of competition shone through. Dedication to the art of debating was obvious, some teams even had their own timekeeper within sight giving an indication every minute and half minute in addition to the pings of the official timekeeper! Team dynamics were interesting to observe – some teams were of the quiet, contemplative occasionally explosive genre whilst other teams were all about explosive, loud, passionate speeches.

But all teams were armed with concrete, well researched arguments, analysis and put forward their cases ferociously. There was furious note taking and nodding of heads as the respective speakers took their turn presenting their arguments. Speeches were delivered with passion, conviction and the adrenalin was almost contagious. Reasoned arguments were accompanied by carefully choreographed hand gestures that mimicked dance moves at times. These were punctuated by enthusiastic cries of “point of information” from the opposing side, which were mostly met with polite “no thank you madam” or “not at the moment, sir”. Detailed analysis & debriefings followed each session with appointed mentors and supporters.

Eventually, the team from Anglo Chinese School (Independent) emerged winners of the Senior Category whilst Hwa Chung Institution triumphed in the Junior Category. Organisers and observers agreed that across all the teams the passion for debating shone through and the depth of research in IHL was impressive. Faiszah summed it up when she said “It is very heartening to hear the students debating on topics such as the use of chemical weapons and on humanitarian issues. At the end of the debate, it doesn’t matter who argued better. What is important, everyone learnt something and IHL has received the attention it deserves”.

Story by Jacqueline Fernandez, ICRC