On Saturday 14th March 2020, nearly forty pupils from across the Senior and Prep schools gathered for the second MCMUN conference. With Model United Nations now being a popular and well-attended activity at Marlborough College Malaysia, this was a great opportunity for our more experienced delegates to share their skills and expertise with some of the younger pupils, and for everyone to engage in some hearty debate about two controversial and politically-charged issues.
The pupils who regularly attend MUN as one of their Activities options chose two challenging topics upon which to focus: female genital mutilation (FGM) and the contested territories in the South China Sea. These were felt to be important issues by our pupils; there are 200 million women worldwide living with the effects of FGM today for example, some of whom reside here in Malaysia. To understand the issue, our pupils had to be sensitive to a range of cultural and religious considerations, whilst also learning about the medical and physiological implications of the practice. Researching and debating FGM was therefore a test of their maturity, their global awareness, and their ability to appreciate multiple perspectives. Similarly, competing territorial claims in the South China Sea continue to be a source of conflict between nations, and this challenging topic provided a contrasting, yet no less important focus for our pupils’ discursive energy.
In the week prior to the conference, resolutions were crafted by Eden Fall-Bailey (on the issue of FGM), and by Timothy Whang and Brandon Tan (on the South China Sea), and the delegates set about researching their countries and preparing their arguments. It was particularly impressive to see the Year 8 delegates approaching a new and unfamiliar endeavour with such enthusiasm and confidence, and this was to be reflected in the quality of the subsequent debates. Our debates were confidently chaired by João Nina Matos and Avikgna Linganathan (both in Hundred), whilst the debate administration was adroitly managed by an efficient team of secretaries, led by Zahra Ahmad-Nazhri (U6). The debates were good-natured and lively, but also extremely thought-provoking, illustrating the high quality of preparation that pupils had undertaken. Observing them in action, it was clear that many of them had become remarkably knowledgeable about the topics at hand, enabling unsatisfactory clauses to be challenged and facilitating the passage of a number of amendments. Of particular note was the eloquence of many of our younger pupils, who without exception spoke with assurance and confidence; Mimi Shaw and Lois Lee (both Year 8) excelled at the podium, and Hattie Barry (Year 8) was outstanding, delivering a speech which tore shreds out of the arguments of a much older delegate.
Once again, MCMUN proved to be a really rewarding experience for all involved. The delegates eventually passed the resolution on FGM, whilst the resolution on the South China Sea was narrowly defeated at the vote. More importantly, however, the pupils gained a thorough understanding of two important global issues and exercised their public speaking skills in a forum that was genuinely collaborative. We can certainly look ahead to the next academic year knowing that there is a brilliant new crop of MUN participants in Year 8, ready to take on the mantle that has been so confidently carried by our Senior School pupils thus far.