Leonard Goh Zhong Ning (ME113), President of the IMU Debate Society
Leonard Goh wears many hats – he is also actively involved in cheerleading and chess. As a prelude to the upcoming debate competition for IMU cup, we interviewed Leonard to get his thoughts on the event.
So Leonard, what responsibilities do you hold for the IMU Cup debate competition? Would you say that this is your first time organising such an event?
I am the event captain for Debate, as well as the debate captain for Phoenix. I have had prior experience organising debate tournaments with the previous Debating Society 2013/14 committee, such as IMU Debate Open 2013 and Health Science Debate Open 2014, so it isn’t my first time. It is, however, the first time I’ve been placed in charge of the whole tournament. Fortunately, IMU Cup is a rather small-scale event compared to the two aforementioned competitions, so I don’t foresee any complications, especially since I have my wonderful Debating Society committee with me!
How has your preparation been so far?
So far, all the debate captains and I have been recruiting members from our respective houses to attend training sessions, but we didn’t manage to see much response till very recently, with the new intake of medical students. Anyone who is interested in trying out debate is strongly encouraged to contact your respective debate captains! No prior experience is required, only an enthusiasm for learning and critical thinking.
Hydra: Lalina Murugan
Draco: Wan Aisyah Azzahrah
Pegasus: Jagraj Dhillon
Griffin: Ai Ven Tee
Taurus: Arjun Gopal
Anyone who is interested in trying out debate is strongly encouraged to contact your respective debate captains! No prior experience is required, only an enthusiasm for learning and critical thinking.
How has recruitment for the competition been?
Initially it was quite difficult to recruit members, especially since almost all batches across the courses were occupied with exams, electives, projects, semester breaks and whatnot. Some people were probably also intimidated by the idea of speaking for 7 minutes straight without much preparation. (It’s not as hard as it looks, really!) However, with the new ME2/14 intake, we have been seeing an increase in interest in debate, and that has been very heartening.
What is the most challenging part of this event for you?
Most of the Semester One students entering this competition are novices in debating, so the current challenge is to bring them up to speed regarding the format of the British Parliamentary style of debating, as well as speaker roles and how to properly structure their arguments, so that they will be able to fully benefit from their participation in IMU Cup. That said, Debating Society had our first training session with them last Sunday, and their progress looks promising.
What is the most interesting part of this event for you?
I would say the competition itself. Last year, I had to debate on a topic that I was largely unfamiliar with, all within 15 minutes. Needless to say it turned out to be the most fun and the most memorable experience I had during last year’s IMU Cup.
What responsibilities are entailed with your roles in this event?
As event captain of Debate, my role is to ensure that the whole tournament is executed smoothly by the committee. This ranges from mundane stuff like booking rooms and arranging matchups according to the instructions given by the IMU Cup committee, to exciting tasks like setting the debate motions. As debate captain for Phoenix, my role is to coordinate training sessions and to guide the new debaters in my houseas they set off on their debating journey.
What have you put in place to make the team work out?
My committee has been working together for quite some time now, so I didn’t have to do anything per se to make us click. Our team dynamics is great, and I am thankful for that!
How do you manage time between your studies and extracurricular activities?
To be honest, I haven’t been managing my time as well as I would have liked, but I guess time management is largely dependent on our individual priorities, and these priorities can change from time to time. Therefore, it is important to review them regularly to ensure that time allocation for each activity accurately reflects its respective priority level.
What are your expectations by the end of this event?
I hope that this Debate segment in IMU Cup would be a great learning experience for all our new debaters irrespective of which house they belong to, as well as a platform to exhibit Debating Society. I also hope for people to realise that debating is not all about using profound language and arguments to confound opponents, but rather,creating meaningful public discourse about important issues. All that is required of you is to have an opinion, a willingness to defend it logically, and an open mind; everything else is secondary.
I hope that this Debate segment in IMU Cup would be a great learning experience for all our new debaters irrespective of which house they belong to, as well as a platform to exhibit Debating Society.
Is there anything you would like to tell other IMU students?
I would like to encourage everyone to join IMU Cup, as it is really a wonderful opportunity for us to explore new sports and events. Besides that, it is one of the few times when we actually get to meet people from other courses and forge close friendships with them over training sessions.
Last but not least, IMU Debating Society holds weekly training sessions on Saturdays, from 2 pm to 5 pm. Everyone is welcome to join us! For more information, feel free to join our Facebook group.