Today I was pleasantly surprised at the honesty and courage of young Malaysians.
So it is commonly known (in the right circles) that the Oxford-Cambridge debates in Malaysia are generally substandard. This year’s was no exception, and I went not expecting anything. 🙂
What was different this year, however, was the audience participation.
A few of them stood up and expressed their disappointment with the debate. One of them said something to the effect of the debate “being of lower secondary school standard,” and that they expected so much more from Oxbridge students; glamour, prestige, and all. Other comments included the overemphasis on trivialities and specifics rather than general, more pertinent points and arguments.
In all honesty the kids were absolutely right: there was a (not-so) shocking lack of analysis and argumentation from both teams. There was no clash: both teams failed to grasp their rival’s points and either brushed the arguments off or constructed strawman arguments. Bad debating.
The kids were really confident and assertive in speaking out and critiquing the mediocre performance of both teams. It was actually quite cute! And mind you, these are secondary school/pre-University kids!
So in general the audience feedback was quite scathing lah.
One part of me was so proud of them for being so courageous! Criticising Oxbridge students man in front of the entire floor. Got balls. I like.
The other part of me was cringing for the poor debaters on stage. 🙂 Quite painful lah, to receive public criticism. I think some of the kids were hell bent on humiliating the debaters because they expected “an intense & fiery intellectual discourse.” Ouch.
In the long term, I think this bodes well for Malaysia and for Malaysian debate. I think we can expect Oxbridge to give us a better debate next year, or rightly face the wrath of these kids who tolerate no incompetency and give no quarter. 😉