Where will you Find 17-Year-Olds Rattling off “Capital Markets” and “Moral Hazard”? A Debating Tournament, Of Course!

by Chua Jun Yan (13A01A)

The team poses for a photo after their victory, joined by coaches Mr. Timothy Yap, Mr. Tan Yi-Xun and Mr. Suhas Malhotra.

After a 6-year drought, the Raffles Debaters have emerged as the Champions of the Ministry of Education-Anglo Chinese Junior College Inter-Collegiate Debating Championships. The 5-person team, comprising Chua Jun Yan, Antariksh Mahajan, Pavithra Ramkumar, Lim Ying Xuan and Tan Teck Wei, defeated Anglo-Chinese School (Independent) in the Grand Finals by a vote of 4 to 1.

The victory was especially sweet, as the team had suffered bruising defeats in tournaments earlier in the year. To reach the finish line, the team had to brave six gruelling debates over two days, facing traditional powerhouses like last year’s winner, Hwa Chong Institution.

Debating to a crowd of a few hundred schoolchildren, the team wowed the audience with a sleek blend of style and substance. The motion for the Grand Finals was “This house would abolish the Euro” – a topic which policymakers find challenging to grapple with, much less teenagers studying A-level economics. Nonetheless, RI put forward a convincing case, arguing that the current Eurozone crisis should not blind the continent to the long-term benefits of a common currency.

Despite the fact that terms like “moral hazard” and “transaction costs” were traded across the floor, both teams tried valiantly to make the debate accessible to the layperson. While ACS(I) has traditionally been seen as a more stylish team, RI spared no effort in charming the crowd with wit and humour. Our first opposition speaker fired the opening salvo with the hilarious line, “As a 17-year-old, I have only one piece of advice to give to world leaders like Angela Merkel: breaking up is hard to do.”

In announcing the verdict, Chief Adjudicator Mr. Mark Gabriel said that RI had a better understanding of the specific context of the region.  The 5-person adjudication panel also named third speaker, Pavithra, as the Best Speaker of the Finals. All 3 RI speakers were ranked amongst the overall Top 20 individual speakers in the tournament: Antariksh was ranked 17th, Pavithra was ranked 10th, while Jun Yan was ranked 6th. When interviewed, RI coach Mr. Timothy Yap said, “We’re all very proud of the team. The road leading up to the nationals was rocky but everything came together at the end, and it was telling they won every debate they had convincingly.  They learnt fast, and were getting better and better with every debate.”

The win marks the end of the season for the CCA, with their secondary school counterparts clinching the national title in April. Once more, the Raffles Debaters have outtalked their way to the top.

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