Introduction

1. It is my pleasure to be back home here, to join you at Nanyang Technological University (NTU), for the 8th Asia-Pacific Intervarsity Chinese Debate Tournament Opening Ceremony.

2. When I shared my Mandarin speech earlier, I highlighted the benefits of this tournament, which I will not repeat, and how it can be the platform to seed the passion for debate and the love for the Chinese language. At the same time, it can sharpen the mind and improve analytical skills as it trains us all on how to think on the spot. This is an important life skill in today's digital era. It also helps us to improve our command and proficiency in the Chinese language, and fosters teamwork, as you come together in teams and work under time constraints.

3. If this is your first experience watching a debate, you will be intellectually stimulated and challenged to form your own opinion.

By Youth For Youth

4. This biennial Intervarsity Chinese Debate Tournament is an initiative by the NTU Chinese Society. I understand we have about 600 members. It has grown from strength to strength � from its early days as the Singapore-Malaysia Open to its current form as a regional competition, with representatives from seven economic zones.

5. Such projects that are organised by the youth, for the youth have a powerful and positive impact. It is not something that is top down, organised by the government, or by the school insisting that you do this. Instead, it is a ground-up initiative. The students felt that there was a gap for this project, and hence, it is organised by the students, for fellow students from the region. As young people come together like you, to explore and expound on your views and thinking, I am sure you are able to create waves to influence and encourage your peers.

6. Now, many years ago, when we first had this debate, we did not even have social media platforms. But as you go into the five days of competition, I am quite sure that the audience and participants will be tweeting away, riding on the social media platforms. Trust me, you actually have a multiplying impact on many other people, not just in Singapore, but also in the region, through your participation in this debate tournament.

7. And this year, the youth organisers have extended the tournament to Upper Secondary students. Like I mentioned, I think this is a really laudable effort because you are going upstream, to try to influence students who may have the talent and the latent strength to do this but did not know that they do. As we know, youths today have many things competing for their time and attention. So, it is important, to reach out to the Upper Secondary students, and make sure that this is something that remains on their radar screens.

8. And I know, the NTU Chinese Society reached out to the younger students through roadshows where they shared their enthusiasm and love for debate. We are very heartened that this youth platform looks set to grow as more young people join the tournament to have their voices heard.

9. I am very certain that our younger students will find good role models in their older peers. Maybe, you participated in this tournament because you were very inspired by a senior. You will, in turn, be a role model for your younger peers. I am sure many of you came because you were inspired to take part in community and outreach projects. On the same note, I hope you will also inspire many of your juniors to do the same.

Conclusion

10. In conclusion, I would like to thank the NTU Chinese Society for their efforts in organising this tournament and the roadshows. 27 of them came together and worked very hard as a team to pull off this tournament. Usually, for events organised at the university level, they will stay confined to the university or national level. But this is a regional tournament, and I think it is a really laudable effort. Can we put our hands together to thank them and encourage them?

11. All the best to the 24 teams. I really look forward to seeing you give your best in the tournament, hear your views and also creative ideas. I always feel that the sound bites at the tournament are very interesting and worth profiling by the various media. It is always refreshing to listen to young people like yourselves.

12. I would like to encourage all of you to go beyond this competition, make friends and try to step out of your comfort zone. I hope you will build friendships, rapport and bonds with the others, so that they will be your friends for life. Let's continue to engage in healthy debates, hold intellectual and cultural exchanges, and spread the passion for doing good in our society. On this note, I want to wish you all a wonderful debate and tournament ahead.

13. Thank you very much.

Source: Ministry of Education, Singapore