It is Good Friday today. Good Friday is all about the grace of God, and this entry is about an experience that had the grace of God written all over it.
Round 3 of the Wira Debate Cup, we were up against Seri Bintang Utara (SBU), defending State Champions of 2003. That year, they finished Seri Hartamas off in the State Finals (Seri Hartamas finished us off in Round 3), and their best speaker, Nik Nadhirah, was still on the team.
So what strategy did we opt for? Of all things, experimentation. The motion was 'Students Should Not be Encouraged to Work Part-Time' and we were the Government. (It should be mentioned here that we only find out which side we're on 60 minutes before the debate, but the topics are given a week in advance.) This was probably the first time I had to debate against my own opinions, as I personally believe students should be encouraged to work part-time.
Given that we had a tricky topic that could be misconstrued to be a discourse on child labour (which it is not), and given our issues with speaker line-up, we decided to move ourselves around a little and experiment with the running order.
Danial, ever confident of his ability to deliver a prepared speech with force, volunteered to go First. It was already decided upon that I would give the Reply Speech, so I had to be either First or Second. Neither Dinesh nor Danial wanted the Third Speaker's burden of rebuttal, but in the end we believed Dinesh was the lesser of two evils, given his experience as an Impromptu speaker at the ISKL SEA Forensics.
The round was at SMK Bukit Bandaraya, in the heart of Dinesh and Kishan territory, and many of their old friends from SK Bukit Bandaraya were there, as well as a few fellow campers from the NSCF Leaders' Camp 2003.
True enough, Danial did not disappoint, and was incredible against SBU's First Speaker. Round 1 to the VI.
On my first outing as the Second Speaker, I delivered one of my finest performances, going one on one against SBU's star debater, Nik Nadhirah. We will always remember my legendary reply to one of her POIs (points-of-information)... unfortunately no one seems to remember what it was about!
However, Dinesh did not fare so well. In fact, his first (and last) appearance as Third Speaker was by and large forgettable: he paced around too much, didn't accept any of the POIs and--if I remember correctly--barely made it to half the time limit. (Of course, in retrospect, we will always remember this occasion simply because in order to learn from mistakes, we must remember what the mistakes were.)
By the end of his speech, we were prepared for a repeat of the previous year when we were knocked out in the Third Round. But it is always good to go down in style, so I went on to deliver the Reply Speech best as I could, and by most counts, it was a decent effort.
In the end? Nadhirah was named Best Speaker (deservedly, considering our lack of organisation and fluidity!) and... we won the round! It should also be added here that we won by one mark, or so the Head Judge said. Whether that meant it was a split decision, i.e. a 2-1 win, or if the mathematical tabulation of the total scores resulted in a difference of one mark, we never found out. But it was a close enough shave.
And from that moment on, we were determined to go all the way to win the State Title. I think it was also on that day that I told the team I'd treat them to Chili's if we won, although I'm not too sure about that.
And... we knew it was back to the drawing board for the speaker line-up!
(Posted at 12:21 AM on Saturday 7 April 2007)