Khmer Times/Youth Today supplement’s Srey Kumneth recently interviewed Sau Sakda, 18, the winner of the Second Model Prime Ministerial Debate Competition that supported from the US Embassy at Himawari hotel, and organised by the US Ambassador’s Youth Council. He is a sophomore at the Royal University of Law and Economics majoring in Law.
YT: Why did you decide to participate in the debate?
Mr Sakda: My reasons for joining this debate were its uniqueness and my passion for debate. Geared toward MPMD, it consisted of different compositions and procedures. Each candidate undergoes strict time constraints and works independently.
These characteristics gave me rigorously training in listening, learning and expressing myself. Added to that, debate has been one of my passions for a long time.
The fact that I get to view a controversy from various angles and to synthesise my ideas for others; this is something that has always been firmly rooted in me.
Overall, debate can, piece by piece, build a foundation of courage and a toolbox of knowledge for everyone; it can shift your vision from that of a horse to that of an eagle.
YT: Could you discuss the difficulties you encountered from the beginning? How long does it take to learn?
Mr Sakda: There have been many difficulties along this journey, particularly coming up with a proposition at each debate, and spontaneous responses to moderators and other candidates’ questions and arguments.
Firstly, ensuring that the proposition is practical and contextualised for Cambodia requires tremendous research and flexibility. As a law student, trade and investment has been a new concept that I have needed to decipher and that problem requires relentless and rigorous effort to solve.
Furthermore, during debates, rebutting arguments and defending my policy involves making deliberate responses to each and every point that is brought up, in order to articulate my proposition.
Overall, this competition takes around two months, commencing with the shortlist procedure through application form submission, interview round, a preliminary round consisting of 14 candidates, semi-final round competing with four candidates and last but not least, a one-on-one final round.
YT: At the final around, what percentage did you expect to win? Why?
Mr Sakda: On the one hand, regarding the final round, my expectation of winning was just around fifty percent. After the debate, it seemed to me that it had been a close debate, since everyone has made compelling arguments backed up with convincing statistics. In fact, it was indeed really nerve-wracking waiting for the final result.
YT: What is your message to Cambodia’s young generation?
Mr Sakda: The term “problems” is always resonating in our mind, whereas the term “solutions” is, unfortunately, ignored. This is why it is time that all youths fill in the missing piece of the puzzle of society; these are policies to solve existing problems.
As a matter of fact, any youth has potential to be the next challenger in these debates; if not now, then when will you start? A message to all youths out there: If you choose to embark on any learning path, make sure that you exert yourself to the utmost because at the end of the day, you will always carry something back home.