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The Infinity – the 2018 Fiscal Governance Debate Champion

On behalf of my team, named “The Infinity”, the 2018 champion of the debate competition on Fiscal Governance, I would like to share my unforgettable experience from the competition. Personally, I had never debated, and I had never experienced participating in any event related to debate. So, I was very excited and honored to won the debate competition on “Fiscal Governance” organised by Transparency International Cambodia, supported by Oxfam, EU and SIDA.

From this event, We have learnt that there are various aspects and views that debaters or policy makers need to be rational and considerate, both with providing feasible solutions and constructive policy analysis on fiscal governance. Other skills that  I with my team have learnt and developed on top of our existing ones are: researching skill, critical analysis, understanding opponents, supporting team members under pressure, preparing counter-arguments, in-depth discussion, effective persuasion skill, statistic interpretation, forming argument with accurate and credible evidences generated from reputable sources, and defensing own argument and challenging others. Of course, topic like “Whether or not the Government should increase tax on personal income?” is related to economic perspective and required tough researching to gather enough data to either support or against the topic. In debate, there is no right or wrong, instead, it is the matter of fact that one’s idea must be proven better and more practical than other’s. We had to analyse whether or not by increasing personal income tax rate, would it really lead to the increase in overall national tax revenue? If not, what would and should be the better solution to address the problems.

Then, there was also topic like “Whether or not the government provide more tax incentive to foreign investment?” so the debaters would have to do more research on the existing tax incentive and tax exemptions to foreign investment and make critical analysis whether we need more of such or such act would lead to more tax expenditure. We also had to study further and think outside the box whether tax incentive provided in the country is little or already too big relatively compared to other ASEAN countries. The competition was very challenging. From one round to another, I met opponents with different educational background which made it unpredictable during debate. In debate, anything could happen if we did not prepare enough for it. Besides that, I always take my time to see the other teams’ debate so that we can learn from them and make better adjustment for our sides. By witnessing their performance, we can predict their flow of contents and look for their weaknesses and strengths in case if we happen to compete with them in the next round. Listening to the feedbacks and comments from the respective judges were also keys to win the competition as those comments are pricelessly important to better the next performance. Rather than being labeled as enemy, I referred to the other teams as opponent. I believe one of the reasons for debate is not to make enemy but to make friends, to challenge against each other for better solution to address the issues. After we finished debating, we did handshaking because we all believed that the platform was not really a competition where we had to fight for winning, but deep down it was a platform to increase knowledge and insightful understanding as well as a stage where we built networking. We wanted to show youth and inspire them what debate is and the importance to raise their voices when it comes to problems that impact their lives. We were very thankful to the honorable judges from different working fields for the best constructive feedbacks which we could improve from time to time. During the debate, we felt great when the other team challenged us with their counter arguments because the stronger their argument, the louder the crowd, and the more active the debate. We acknowledged that our ideas were not always the best ones, so we opened for questions and counter-arguments if the other team have better ideas in proposing solutions.

For those who have never debated like us and wanted to try such education programme, my message to you is “Go for it!” as Nelson Mandela once said “I never lose; I either win or learn”. Our team gained an insightful knowledge and understanding throughout the journey from the start of our application until the winning hour. This is priceless and especially very beneficial for our future credit and career prospect. Last but not least, I want to give my utmost respect and thankful to TI Cambodia for organising such impactful event. Of course, without financial and technical support from Oxfam, EU and SIDA, the event would not happen. I commit to myself that from now, I will be the person who inspires other youth to take action to promote the culture of dialogue as it is the most effective way to exchange ideas and raising public awareness on social, political and economic issues.

The Infinity was the 2018 Debate Champion of the Youth Debate Competition on Fiscal Governance. The competition intended to raise awareness and increase the participation of the public, especially young people to fiscal transparency and accountability, especially focusing on fair tax, tax compliance and tax incentive.