Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Here Goes

I didn't really want to post it. But I guess I should let my voice be heard. SOme points may be out of date as there are just too many emails flying around about this. I wrote this a couple of weeks ago. So here goes :

I stepped into a debating competition a 2 weekends ago. To adjudicate. It was good to be back. I can see new emerging talents and it is heartening to know that the community is still very much alive.

One of the main reasons I have stayed away for a while was the politics. I really disliked it. And I still do have an aversion towards it. Sometimes I feel we get too caught up with our differences that we forget the greater purpose of our small community. Which is why I did not defend my old varsity team when they came under fire 2 years ago for purported bad organisation of the All Asians. They can stand on their own two feet, I believed. And I wasn’t involved actively anymore. However, I do have an email defending them which I did not send out, and only a select few contemporaries had the privilege of reading my not so nice email addressed to some people I regard as important people in the debating scene, people that were part of my growing years as a debater.

I now wonder if I should have sent that email then. Because two All Asians after that, the very same people, in my humble opinion, are being hypocritical as they defended the current organiser for the very same crimes they so aggressively attacked my juniors on. No, I have nothing against the current organisers, I view them as firm acquaintances if not friends. Many have devoted their energy and time for the betterment of the debating scene in their respective sphere of influence. And I do understand the many constraints they face in organising something so important and large-scale. I just wish the debate community can extend the same kind of consideration to my juniors two years ago.

If you are an Asian debater, you would have read or heard about the latest development in Asia. The All-Asians versus AUDC issue. Due to dissatisfaction with the representation on the adjudication pool, specifically, there were dissatisfaction with the choice of the DCA and the lack of additional DCA form other regions within Asia. (DCA = Deputy Chief Adjudicator), a break-away tournament AUDC is in the process of being organised. While I haven’t followed the development closely, as I don’t really have time to read every email sent my way (debaters aren’t exactly concise writers), but I’m of the opinion that the formation of AUDC is a double-edged sword.

My thoughts :

There is no such thing as perfect adjudication. I had witnessed enough dodgy adjudicators in action to know that having more or less DCAs does little to improve the quality, unless the DCAs can really filter. What I see if the lack of trust on the DCA which UM has chosen. Personal feelings aside (I have great respect for the man), perhaps if the community largely feels that there is a problem of integrity, they can offer suggestions. I have a feeling there was frustration with UM due to the perceived slowness in responding to the request for an additional DCA, but I hope they understand that it isn’t easy to deal with bureaucracies and money matters in a public university. Yes, I know the grouses had been made a while ago, and perhaps UM didn’t see the need to respond till too late, but an alternative tournament? I know that a list of suggested adjudicators were given to UM but is the AUDC because UM did not select anyone from the list? Again I feel this is well a bit childlike.

And why must AUDC be seen as a competitor to All Asians? Can it not be held further apart (perhaps as a precursor to Australs or Worlds)? I feel it is not gentlemanly be do so. And this whole situation puts smaller institutions at a disadvantage. To get exposure, you have to chose between two tournaments, with some good teams in either one. How do you choose? You want more Singaporean teams, go AUDC? You want more Malaysian teams, go Asians (not entirely true though, Malaysians are split)?

AUDC is being offered as an alternative for those who have lost faith in the All Asians process. But a rather unilateral action doesn’t seem to give comfort at all in terms of cohesion in our already divided community. It doesn’t seem to fit in the concept of consultation and democracy. The question about 2/3 majority needed to amend the constitution shouldn’t arise. 2/3 majority requirement exist in democratic process as a form of safeguard. A simple majority mathematically is just not good enough if it undermines a substantial number of people. When it comes to the All Asians, I’ve been on the 2/3 and 1/3 side before and I hold no grudge against those that voted differently from the way I did. I accepted the decisions in good faith and have in my mind perhaps the time was not right and the proposal may be revived later.

On a smaller context, as team captain, I’ve been on a minority too when it comes to voting for decisions on what our vote should be in the Council. It’s just part of the process really and as much as I have reservations about certain people, I do not doubt the sincerity of their intentions when it comes to improving and upholding the good of the debate community. Issues are meant to be debated (ironic we can’t seem to do so objectively) and then decided upon.

AUDC can be a good thing. If its aims are noble enough. It is a good thing to have, another Asian level debate tournament. But perhaps the founders can look at the impact it has on the larger context. And perhaps it can be organised further apart, and with a different style even (British Parliamentary anyone?)


Post a Comment

<< Home