S'pore students win world debate championship

(From far left, in jackets) Team Singapore members Wei Shu Yang, Jonathan Yap, Siobhan Tan, Au Wei Ho, alternate member Lee Jit Ping and Ryan Wee, with a volunteer from the organising committee. The team beat defending champions England to win the co
(From far left, in jackets) Team Singapore members Wei Shu Yang, Jonathan Yap, Siobhan Tan, Au Wei Ho, alternate member Lee Jit Ping and Ryan Wee, with a volunteer from the organising committee. The team beat defending champions England to win the competition.PHOTO: TEAM SINGAPORE

Team Singapore beat defending champions England in the World Schools Debating Championships (WSDC) yesterday, after eight out of nine judges voted in its favour.

This is the third time Singapore has won the high school-level competition. Its previous wins were in 2015, when the competition was held here, and in 2011 in Scotland.

This year, the grand final, which was held in Bali, saw the Singapore team oppose the motion that "this House supports restrictions on free speech to combat the rise of right-wing populism".

The five-member team, selected by the Ministry of Education, comprised Hwa Chong Institution and Raffles Institution junior college students Au Wei Ho, Siobhan Tan, Ryan Wee, Wei Shu Yang and Jonathan Yap.

The team won seven of its eight debates in the preliminary rounds before defeating Pakistan, India and the United States to qualify for the grand final.

Fifty teams from around the world took part in this year's competition.

Mr Mark Gabriel, director of the Julia Gabriel Centre in Singapore - which sponsors and organises the Singapore Secondary Schools Debating Championships - is the chairman of the WSDC 2016-2017 executive committee.

The team, made up of mostly first-timers to the world stage, put up an impressive performance, he said.

"Not often in debates do you have the particular rhetorical flourish that really captures the moment and audience," he said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 11, 2017, with the headline 'S'pore students win world debate championship'. Print Edition | Subscribe