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18 January 2004

Mail from Ian Lising, Chair of Council

From: Ian Lising

Date: Sun, 18 Jan 2004 00:25:44 -0800

Dear all,

(Please post on the BD, AllAsians, Australasians, African, CUSID, APDA, NPDA, or any other relevant listserve. Thanks.)

Dear Mr. Hoppmann and everyone else still following the proceedings thus far,

Allow me to introduce myself. I am Ian Lising. Chair of the World Council since I was elected to the position in at Toronto Worlds 2002. I have been to 11 World Championships. Twice as a competitor, 8 times as a coach/adjudicator and once as the Championship Director. I am not giving you my cv in order to try to impress nor intimidate, but only to indicate that I speak from some authority.

I have been very quiet since my return from Singapore, sifting through a lot of the silly pettiness that seems to come from the proceedings of the two World Council meetings held on 1st and 2nd January, 2004. The thing that irks me the most are people who seem to make themselves out to be some sort of experts about WORLDS (this WORLDS in particular) when they were nowhere near southeast Asia at the time. Then they choose to speak with such compelling vehemence, making accusations willy nilly without having the proper facts, nor the complete story. I can be silent no longer.

1. I want to make it clear and Iva will vouch for this, that I personally have been very supportive of the Zagreb WORLDS and the potential benefit that it would have brought to the region. We were in contact on several occasions over the past year, discussing a great deal of concerns that their bid might encounter. I was under the distinct impression that everything was under control, and that their process would go smoothly. I was very disappointed with the outcome but I respect and understand Council's decision.

2. The issue here is not so much Ms. Kutle's shortcomings. Nor was it a mere problem of budgetary concerns. Nor was it the fact that their presentation was exactly the same as the year previous. Nor was it Petar's inability to respond to many questions asked by Council members. It was a combination of all of the above. As many people know by now, the first bid defense on 1st January was marred by personal attacks and a lot of unpleasantness. That aside, Zagreb was given ample time to reconstitute their bid without prejudice. In fact, Mr. David Ham (representing the Netherlands) and Ms. Janja Rebic (representing Slovenia) among others spent many hours helping them prep their second presentation. I honestly thought that it would go through this time. Ms. Namrata Verma (Convenor of the Singapore WORLDS) even went so far as to offer their own help in getting this bid across the second time.

Unfortunately much of the presentation, though changed in many areas, left a lot of big questions unanswered. And much of the input from Mr. Ham, Ms. Rebic and Ms. Namrata were neglected or ignored. In fact, (sorry Janja) Ms. Rebic was so visibly frustrated during the presentation that I knew something was wrong.

The bottomline is, in terms of numbers, the result of the vote after the second presentation was far more unforgiving than the vote after the first. Even the most sympathetic delegates decided to abstain, rather than accept Zagreb's bid.

3. What happened in Singapore is not constitutional aberration, nor is it an unjust exercise of power. Allow me to elaborate on this.

The second WORLDS in 1982 was "given" to Hart House after WORLD Council moved the initial bid from its previously appointed hosts. The 1998 WORLDS in Deree was ALMOST given to Ateneo. Deree was defending their bid and there were several problems found with it. Council suggested that a change was possible. The exact words of one of the Council delegates then was "Manila looks more ready than Athens does. Shouldn't we give it to them instead?" The only reason why no such action was taken at the time was that we were not ready to take over and told the Council such.

So, Mr. Hoppmann, there was precedence for such a thing. Yours, Mr. Summer's and others' interpretation of the WORLDS Constitution DID come up during and was part of our discussion, and took up most of our time, which is PRECISELY why it took TWO DAYS. We are not as stupid as you think or as you made us out to sound.

4. Yes, it is my job to help insure that WORLDS is awarded to a host each year. (Sorry, Namrata and Ravi) Last year at Stellenbosch, I was aware of Nanyang's "problem" with their Chief Adjudicator. Ravi Viswanathan replaced Amanda Kiemas as Chief Adjudicator midway through their first year preparations. In fact, some delegates suggested to me, even before I left for Stellenbosch, that they would move to withdraw their support for Nanyang's bid on those grounds. I warned them thoroughly about the possibility of not being confirmed as a result. At that time, I also heard rumors that Council meeting would be bloody and that such action would be seriously taken. Much to their credit, Nanyang responded to the suggestions and proactively took steps to improve their chances of getting the bid confirmed. Iva knew of the problems that Nanyang faced and the potential risk that Nanyang would lose the position as host. The point is, she had been adequately forewarned that such a thing could happen and that she was given more than enough time to prepare Zagreb's own bid.

5. The Andy Hume and MMU issues.I don't think Petar was being disingenuous when he suggested that Mr. Andy Hume accepted a replacement role for Ms. Kutle. It was more likely that it was a statement made in desperation. Mr. Hume, after all, did serve as their DCA at the Europeans. I think that Petar was just banking on the past relationship cultivated with him.

Multimedia University of Malaysia SHOULD NOT be made out to be some vulture. They DID NOT anticipate filling in for Zagreb at any point in time, other than when faced with the unique dilemma of NOT having WORLDS next year. This was not an invention of power politics. Any suggestion to the contrary is pure conspiracy theory and should be treated as such.

6. I apologize if I sound upset, but I am. There's nothing more despicable than people taking potshots from the sidelines. Armchair quarterbacks (my apologies for the American expression) often criticize without knowing all of the facts, details, concerns, angles or reasons that face the people they crucify. I apologize to Iva, Amanda Kiemas, Ravi Viswanathan, Namrata Verma, Janja Rebic and David Ham if I spoke out of confidence. Please know that I am trying to be as transparent as possible for the benefit and understanding of all. Now is the time for healing. So damn it, stop picking at the scab.

There have been many constructive comments from different sources. Andy Hume, for one. One suggestion is that the Executive Committee receive a mid-year report from the future bidders. Incidentally, since I took office, I was in consultation with Kevin Burden and Marika Muller regarding Stellenbosch WORLDS, and Namrata and Ravi regarding Nanyang WORLDS prior to and during the respective competitions. But I think that a mid-year report to ALL Executive members of Council is certainly not just doable but now hereby mandated.

As a result, I will expect a report from both MMU and UCD by the first week of July. This will be viewed first by WUDC Committee members, then released to the listserve at large soon after. Actually, this makes my job so much easier!

I hope this puts to rest all the concerns that have come about from this unfortunate set of circumstances.

Ian Lising
World Debate Council

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