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3 April 2009

Asian championships in disarray

This is a post I would prefer not to have to write but it is the biggest breaking news in debating in quite some time and has to be covered. As many of you will know there has been an ongoing saga about an Asian championships tournament this year. At the start of the year there were two "Asian championships" the AUT hosted by MMU in Malaysia and AUDC hosted by EWU in Bangladesh. Following an extensive campaign for a single tournament MMU, stepped aside in the interests of Asian debating and an impressive series of promises from the EWU-Org-Comm.

Since then there has been a number of issues with the organisation tournament. The concerns most people seemed to focus on were security related (following a military mutiny in Bangladesh) however the more serious ones seemed to be organisational issues as costs increased and questions were raised about having the same individual as both Convenor and Chief Adjudicator.

In order to address these concerns the AUDC council sent a team to do a site visit. During this visit a number of reassurances were given about security, finance and organisation. As a result of these assurances the AUDC council decided to continue with EWU as hosts. Less than 2 weeks later the EWU vice chancellor has been in touch with the AUDC council and it now turns out that some of the assurances about what EWU would provide were not agreed with EWU.

The result is that the tournament cannot now go ahead as originally planned. Three options have been presented to the Asian Debating community to vote on. They basically break down between remaining with EWU but with a reduced quality of tournament, delaying the tournament in the hope EWU org comm can organise a tournament or moving to another host.

If you want more detail and background visit

Here is the e-mail outlining the current status:

Dear Friends,
After the Site Visit, the Exco got in touch with the EWU Vice Chancellor to follow-up on certain promises and commitments made by the EWU orgcomm. Regrettably, we have just recently been informed by the EWU Vice Chancellor that he was not aware of some of the promises made by the EWU Orgcomm to the AUDC Union, both during the bid presentation as well as during the site visit.

He has since informed us that having reviewed these promises, as well as EWU's current finances, they will only be able to provide the following:

1. Registration Waiver as well as complimentary hotel accommodation for the CA, 4 DCAs as well as the Tab Director.
2. Security for the hotel and all venues, as these will be provided by the government.

They will no longer be able to give full adj subsidy, nor will they be able to fund airfare for the adj core. The adj core will have to come at their own expense.

The EWU VC is also requesting for an extension of a month and a half or two months to allow the school to get more sponsorships. We have explained to the VC that this will make it difficult for teams to attend because of schedule concerns, and he has just assured us yesterday that they will be able to host the tournament on the original dates if 60 teams will be registered by April 15.

Because of recent events, the EWU Vice Chancellor also insists that the CA and the Convener be replaced. The EWU Administration will choose a new Convener, while the AUDC Union can simply promote one of the existing DCAs to the CA-position.

Given these developments, the Union has three foreseeable options, all with its own pros and cons:

(Option 1) We retain EWU as hosts and push for the tournament to be held on the original dates. -- For this to happen, we will need to work together to have 60 teams registered and paid by April 15. This will be advantageous for those who have already bought plane tickets for Dhaka on the said dates, and for those who would have trouble attending a tournament if it is not held in May.

(Option 2) We give EWU a month and a half or two months extension to adequately prepare for a tournament and get more sponsorships. There is no assurance, however, that an additional two months will result in full adj subsidies being reinstated. This has the advantage of a potentially smoother-running tournament that will still be held in Dhaka.

(Option 3) We move on to the next ratified host, College of St. Benilde in Manila, Philippines. The exco has spoken to them and they are willing and able to host the tournament, but would most likely be able to host it only by September 2009, during school break. We will of course ask EWU to refund all registration fees paid/wired if the Union decides on this option; but we may not be as successful in requesting a refund from airline companies for those who have already bought their tickets. Of course, all promises with regards to a separate unity session and a DCA from the All Asians will still be upheld by the exco.

I know none of the options above are optimal--I am sure everyone would rather have the tournament as originally promised and planned. Unfortunately, according to the EWU VC, this is no longer possible, so we have to pull together as a united Asian Debating Community and decide how we can best resolve this situation.

To this end, we would like to request the help of the President of the All Asian Debate Community, Jason Jarvis, to kindly facilitate the voting process for his constituents.

The exco, on the other hand, will be asking the national representatives to help us get union reps' votes regarding which option to take. We need to reach a decision soon to allow our chosen host to continue their preparations. The EWU Vice Chancellor will be expecting an update from the exco with regards to our choice by Sunday morning, to know if they should proceed with organizing. We understand that meeting this deadline may not be possible, but we hope to get your cooperation in expediting this voting process as this is a decision that will affect us all.

Much thanks in advance for everyone's cooperation and understanding. Should anyone have constructive comments or other suggestions for how we can best resolve this, we would be glad to hear from you.

Estelle Osorio
Chair, AUDC Exco

Note: Edited following request


  1. And this small bunch of people would be?

    Your external opinion, never having had ANYTHING to do with Asian debating, would be VERY welcome.

  2. I normally dislike responding to anonymous comments but to answer your question the people to blame are whoever decided to lie to the AUDC site visit team and give commitments that were false. Someone took a decision to give false information. This is unlikely to have been all the org comm.

    I believe that people can make mistakes or make bad decisions based on inexperience and if they ask for help they should recieve it. But if they lie about it and try to cover up the seriousness of the problem thus causing things to get worse then that is inexcusable. If this was business then someone would be fired for lying to management.

    As to my experience of Asian debating then it is actually quite extensive. I have been to tournaments in Asia. I have advised Asian debating societies on a wide number of issues and I have a lot of friends in Asian debating. The opinions I voiced here are personal BUT are based on a number of conversations I have had with people currently active in Asian debating in recent months weeks and days.

    I will admit that I dont have a counter point to this view that someone on the org comm seriously screwed up here. That is because no one i have spoken to has yet given one. If you know better and can provide a more accurate picture than the so far majority view then send it to me and I will post it.

  3. Anonymous11:12 am

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  4. Anonymous3:56 pm

    i think the AUDC exco covered up this mess to make sure the EWU AUDC goes through

    the members of the site visit team claimed to have met with the VC and/or high up officials of the school and reported that they ensured all promises were going to be met.

    they also said all preparations were set - like booking hotels and venues. how can that be when they want to change it now???? what about deposits???

    it's obvious this is a cover up. for some reason estelle and iiu want to make sure EWU host the AUDC and have done everything, from propping up a corrupt and useless CA-Convenor to lying to the asian debate community.

    MMU should have held the AUT - everyone would be going there instead!!!!

  5. I have deleted a comment. As I have said before the fastest way to get your comment deleted is to make allegations about someone while hiding behind "Anonymous" yourself. Please use the rule "don't get Colm sued" when posting.

  6. Anonymous10:52 pm

    Anonymous 3:56 PM,

    Let AUDC settle the problem themselves. Options are available and the decision will be made soon. Why are you pouring more fuel into the fire? Playing the devil's advocate, maybe?

  7. Anonymous8:56 am

    It's not just the AUDC. All Asians are also involved. If AUDC had cancelled EWU and came to MMU this would not have happened.

  8. Anonymous6:03 am

    I can see why they chose to stick with EWU initially. Not only had they made a commitment to them, and vice versa, but there was probably a perception (to which I am very sympathetic) that All-Asians should be the tournament to back down. The AUDC has been at least as successful, and the basis for their leaving in the first place was due to perceived wrongs on the part of All-Asians. While it was never said, it was obvious some people felt that justice required All-Asians to merge, not the other way around.

    Unfortunately, EWU has now turned around and let everyone down. Nobody disputes this, but I dislike the suggestion that Malaysia should have been the favoured bid owing to their superior experience. Tournaments can and are run by new hosts very often, and experience is a bad reason to turn down hosts (otherwise they will never get the experience to begin with). On paper, there was every reason to support the EWU bid, future pear shapes notwithstanding.

  9. OK I shouldn't have made it appear that the experience of MMU should be a deciding factor. As I said they were more experienced but EWU had a better package on paper.

  10. Anonymous10:12 am

    The anonymous contributor above Mr Flynn: may I ask why you believe that All-Asians should have backed down before AUDC?

    Personally I think a reciprocal approach would have had the best chance of avoiding continued animosity.

    I say this as someone not from the Asian region.

  11. Anonymous11:26 am

    My views on the matter will just provoke arguments and re-open old wounds needlessly. I personally feel AUDC was broadly in the right of it, for various reasons I don't see much merit in going into. I think anyone reading the mailing list back then, who wasn't personally involved in the situation, would have come to largely the same conclusion. It didn't help that some of the defenders of the All-Asian group were of the Tweety Bird "SLANDER LOUDLY IN BIG TEXT" variety.

    For whatever reason AUDC has since been the more successful and open tournament, and they used that position of strength to make All-Asians back down. I personally can understand why they did so. It would obviously have been for the best (especially in retrospect given the EWU situation) if both sides had abandoned their bids, and chosen as a group to have a new host. However such a course would be practically difficult, and probably would have prevented unification in 2009.

  12. Anonymous10:44 pm

    Well, personally I would hope that the Asians/AUDC debacle serves as a cautionary tale for other regions in the future; that if such a split develops it is everyone's responsibility to resolve it as quickly and amicably as possible.

    In this case, I fear that you're right, and that some people in the AUDC preferred to use their position of strength to make All-Asians back down. I think the evidence is clear that this has damaged Asian debating.

  13. Anonymous12:31 am

    To be fair, the same is true of All-Asians in allowing the split to happen in the first place. It seems that this was the earliest re-unification was possible under vaguely fair terms. All-Asians was understandably not keen to abandon a tournament that had stood for a long time, and they were hoping AUDC would fold, or come back asking for re-unification. So in effect, if one believes that reforms were necessary (and I do) then the only real way for them to happen was for AUDC to become strong enough to force All-Asians to back down. Had AUDC offered to re-merge into All-Asians a few years ago, there would have been no realistic possibility of either a) changing the tournament to a unity tournament, or b) getting any of the hoped for reforms through.

    Would it really have been an appropriate outcome for AUDC to just fold after a year or two and come back to All-Asians? The AUDC had a position of strength for a reason, mainly that they were willing to make the reforms All-Asians had resisted. Why should the tournament that better catered to debaters needs have been the one who should have backed down? You could make the exact same argument that All-Asians were wrong not to back down 1 year after AUDC and offer to merge into AUDC. I agree, this sort of blame throwing only sets you back. But realistically, a unity tournament was not possible until AUDC attained enough strength to basically force All-Asians to accept their terms.

  14. Anonymous3:46 am

    While I don't know the details, and certainly couldn't comment on the rights and wrongs of the split, I don't think you're correct in saying All-Asians were hoping AUDC would fold.

    My recollection is that All-Asians voted for a proposed unity tournament in Korea that was rejected by the AUDC council.

    Of course, I don't know why the AUDC rejected it. Possibly the alternative bid was simply better.

    I'm concerned by this idea that unification depended on one side to back down and the other to triumph. I would hope, as I said before, that if such a split were to happen anywhere else in the future, that both sides would bear the AUDC example in mind and try to reach a compromise before it developed as far.


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