Muic wins 6th EU-Thai Debate

The environment weathers its way to the forefront

Once again, a student team from Mahidol University International College (Muic) has won a top prize. This time, it was the grand champion award at the 6th European Union-Thailand National Inter-Varsity Debate Championship 2010.

Ana-Beatriz Martins presents a trophy to the winning team in the European Union-Thailand National Inter- Varsity Debate Championship 2010. From left, are Wen-Yu Weng and Panyarak Roque, and at far right is Tawin Kim. PURICH TRIVITAYAKHUN

Green competition

Following several months of collaboration between Muic, the host, and the Delegation of the European Union to Thailand in selecting and training debaters from around Thailand, 64 teams comprising nearly 250 students from 25 universities and high schools nationwide were enrolled in the student-led initiative.

The competition was held under the environment-conscious theme "Offsetting Carbon, Offsetting Ignorance". The contestants not only debated against each other, but they also worked together in many environment-awareness-raising activities, such as tree-planting sessions and campaigns to reduce consumption of energy and water.

The event welcomed several new institutions from different regions of Thailand. Among them were Chiang Mai University, Nakhon Ratchasima Rajabhat University, Prince of Songkla University, Benjamarachutit Nakhon Si Thammarat School and the Demonstration School of Khon Kaen University.

In the final round of the university students division, a student team from Assumption University debated a team from Muic on the motion "This house believes that the European Union Emission Trading Scheme [EU ETS] can serve as a model for Thailand". The government side was represented by AU, while Muic acted in opposition.

After an hour of oratorical dazzlement on both sides, the Muic representatives emerged victorious. The decision of the panel of judges was unanimous.

Under the EU ETS, firms are allocated emission allowances by the government and they can trade the allowances among themselves. Instead of employing this mechanism in Thailand, the triumphant team proposed a progressive carbon tax that would be applied to all emitters of carbon dioxide, ranging from the agriculture sector to large manufacturers.

Ana-Beatriz Martins, charge' d'affaires at the Delegation of the European Union to Thailand and one of the seven adjudicators, commented that the winners were more persuasive because their arguments were stronger and better organised. Nonetheless, she added that she was impressed by the overall quality of all the debaters.

"We regard this as an extremely important experience for [students] to learn to debate. It is important for them to lead a discussion in an informative and constructive way," said Ms Martins.

Speech champions

The recent victory represents the fourth time that Muic has won the EU-Thai Debate Championships. The members of the winning team were Wen-Yu Weng, Panyarak Roque and Tawin Kim.

After the competition, the team members revealed that they were delighted with the judges' unanimous decision. "The government orators were among the most-challenging competitors I had ever met," said Wen-Yu, who was in the team that won last year's tournament hosted by Thammasat University.

Wen-Yu also took the Grand Final Best Speaker prize.

Panyarak, president of the Muic Debating Club, and Tawin, who is also in the club, said that the contest was tough as they needed to organise the event as well as simultaneously prepare themselves as participating debaters. However, they said that the tournament has positively changed them in many ways.

"Debating has made me interested in many things, and it has also made me critical of what I see. On the academic side, you become much more organised in what you write and what you say," said Panyarak. "It teaches you to look at things from many angles. Before, I didn't do that. I always looked at things only one way," Tawin added.

For Wen-Yu, debating has made her a more holistic person, she said. "It makes me try to pursue several interests. I'm a science student. I never thought I had to learn about politics or religion. Now that I know about these things, I have come to realise that it doesn't matter what major you are doing. You can be an artist, a musician or a medical student, but politics and religion and all other subjects around you are very important and affect your life, too," she explained.

Having gained the aforementioned benefits, Panyarak and Tawin said, they are now committed to definitely competing in future debate tournaments, but Wen-Yu said that she might decide to resign from the league and focus on training new debaters instead.

Team members were awarded a 15,000-baht cash prize, a trophy and certificates. The High School Champion Award went to Patumwan Demonstration School.

The next EU-Thai Debate Championship will be jointly hosted by Muic and Khon Kaen University.

Visit  for the full competition results and additional information.

About the author

Writer: Purich Trivitayakhun
Position: Reporter