KUCHING: Catholic High School, Sibu emerged champion in the Sarawak Mandarin Debate competition organised by the Kuching Hockien Association Youth Section yesterday.
Kuching Chung Hua Middle School No.1 came in second followed by SMK Kuching High and SM Pei Min, Miri – in third and fourth places respectively.
Both the champion and first-runner-up teams will represent Sarawak to compete at the national-level tournament to be held later.
Kuching Hockien Association vice president Tan Jit Kee said they had been organising the tournament for at least 18 years in the hope that a Sarawakian team would emerge the national champion.
He conceded that Sarawakian teams had to go the extra mile in order to bring home the honour.
“Based on my observations, there is still a gap between Sarawak and Peninsular Malaysia when it comes to standard and performance.
“But I believe that such gap can be bridged with our continued efforts to organise debate competitions like this,” he said.
Tan noted that the highest position that Sarawak had ever attained was the second runner-up spot last year.
“If we could make one of the finalists, it would mean that our standard is on a par with that of Peninsular Malaysia. Let’s keep up our good work and aim to be crowned the champion,” he said.
A total of 11 schools including four government secondary schools competed in the just-concluded Sarawak Mandarin Debate competition.
“It is not easy to organise such a competition given the resources that we have to pool.
“However, we will carry on this initiative for it offers a platform for participants to brush up their language and analytical reasoning skills,” added Tan.
Closing the tournament was Minister of International Trade and E-Commerce and Second Finance Minister Dato Sri Wong Soon Koh, who was represented by Dr Chou Chii Ming.
Wong believed that the tournament had groomed quite a number of youths to not just having a good command of language but also the ability to lay out their argument in a convincing manner.
“I’m pretty sure the association has contributed a lot to the tournament over the years.
“Their efforts must have enabled our secondary school students to acquire more know-how and skills in many relevant aspects,” said Wong in his text of speech read out by Chou.
Wong also pledged a RM10,000 minor rural project (MRP) fund for the Kuching Hockien Association Youth Section to continue its good work.