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Q1. When and where will the debate competition be held?
|Secondary school category
|| : 15 January 2009
|Junior Colleges / Pre-University category
||: 16 January 2009
||2pm to 6pm
||Auditorium at Treasury Building
100 High Street
The finals of the debate competition will be held on 30
January 2009 (Friday), venue to be confirmed.
Q2. What is the format of the debate?
The debate is modeled on the British Parliamentary (BP)
debate format. A layout of the debate format is provided
in the Format section above. Each debate will comprise
of 4 teams (2 Proposition and 2 Opposition teams). Each
speaker has 5 minutes. Points of Information (POIs) may
be offered at all times in all speeches, except in the first
and last 30-seconds of each speech.
Q3. What is expected of each team?
In this adapted BP format, teams are given a specific group
in society to represent, such as small business owners,
teachers or even certain government ministries. These groups
and roles have been carefully identified and selected for
each unique debate in this competition. The reasons for
this are two-fold.
Firstly, we encourage schools to challenge themselves by
exploring the full range of arguments unique to their
assigned role so as to deepen critical thinking on their
given topic. We hope to see students attempting to place
themselves in the positions of the specific sectors of society
they represent in their own debate. However, teams are free
to choose the specific identities they wish to play within
the assigned group roles. Hence, if a team is assigned “Environmental
groups”, the teams can decide which group to represent
(such as Greenpeace-Singapore or a fictional environmental
support group in Singapore whose name teams are free to
come up with) and what specific individuals they represent
in that group. A suggested role here would be the CEO or
organization head and his deputy. Have fun with this!
Secondly, it is crucial for teams to keep within the roles
given to them in terms of the arguments they cover because
it is taken into consideration by the judges. Teams, especially
opening Proposition and Opposition teams who attempt to
disadvantage subsequent teams in their own debate by ‘matter
sweeping’ (i.e. by covering all possible arguments
available, even if irrelevant to their assigned role) will
be severely penalized by judges. In several instances, multiple
roles are suggested. Teams are free to represent one or
both of the suggested groups. However, we encourage making
full use of all suggested roles because it is important
for teams to have enough material spread over both speakers.
Q4. What is the distinct role of each team or speaker?
1st Proposition Team: For this competition,
the opening Proposition team is generally assigned the role
of the Ministry of Finance, represented by the Finance Minister
and his deputy. For some debates (specified in the table
above), the opening Proposition represents the Finance and
Manpower Ministers. In all cases, the opening Proposition
team is expected to outline a clearly considered and detailed
policy in support of the motion, along with 1-2 basic arguments
explaining the principle and rationale behind such a policy
(i.e. the arguments in favour of the policy). The intention
is for teams to imagine that they are the Finance Minister,
speaking in Parliament, outlining a policy (represented
by the assigned motion) and the rationale behind it.
1st Opposition Team: The Opening Opposition
team is expected to rebut the policy and rationale raised
by the Opening Proposition and offer opposing arguments
to build up a substantive Opposition case. What this means
is that Opposition teams cannot merely rebut and must
offer constructive points of their own to add to the debate.
While not mandatory, the Opening Opposition may also wish
to consider offering a counter-policy to support their constructive
Second Proposition and Opposition Teams: The second
Proposition and Opposition teams should extend or add to
the debate. This means that they are expected to bring new
perspectives to the debate and show the judges that their
views contribute to the debate, and that they speak and
defend it persuasively. This could include extending the
debate and adding to arguments on the table by pointing
out economic, social or political implications of the policy
at hand on their own group that have not been considered
by the other teams. Teams could also suggest some slight
modifications to the policy suggested by the opening team
on their side, although outright opposition to it is disallowed.
Second teams’ arguments must not overlap with or contradict
the opening teams’ arguments. The key action strategically
here is to agree largely with the general direction of the
opening team on your side, but present different perspectives
and arguments to stand out as a distinct voice at the table.
Final Opposition and Proposition Speakers. The primary
role of the very last speaker of each side of the debate
is to review and summarise the debate for the judges, although
the last speaker should also allocate 1-2 minutes to rebuttal.
The summary must cover points raised by both teams on both
the Proposition and Opposition sides.
Further details are available in the PowerPoint explanation provided of individual speaker roles
Finally, some advice: When setting cases, it is highly
advisable for all teams to take note of the roles assigned
to them and other teams in the debate and work with a fair
assumption of the arguments the other teams will raise.
This will help you pre-empt what your opposing team will
say and thus help with the thoroughness of your rebuttal
preparation. It will also help avoid overlaps with the other
teams on your side of the debate.
Q5. Are the teams of each proposition or opposition
side expected to collaborate with each other?
As each school is assigned the role of a different interest
group or organisation in society, arguments and rebuttals
made by the second team should naturally come from a different
point of view from the first team on their side of the debate.
Schools should also consider that they are competing against
all other teams in their round, including the team on the
same side of the house as themselves. Hence collaboration
between schools is neither necessary nor encouraged, although
the ultimate decision is left to schools.
Q6. Will MOF be conducting any training for this competition?
No training will be conducted. However, teams with queries
can seek clarifications through email.
Q7. Since there are now 2 schools debating on the same
side, how will you select the winning teams?
Panels of judges will select winning teams by ranking each
team as 1st, 2nd, 3rd or
4th in the debate. During the debate, each judge
will form his or her own assessment of team rankings and
select the 1st-ranked team (the winner). After
the debate, the judges confer in order to agree on the rankings
and select the winner. The winner (the 1st-ranked team)
in each preliminary round will advance to the Finals.