The Battle of the Giants: MUSA Election Debates 2013

battleBy Hanny Kee
 *All photos taken from their respective Facebook groups.*

Two parties: Team Transcend (represented in purple) and Team Sapientia (represented in blue), are currently vying to fill the 38 MUSA positions for 2014. The highlight of the elections was of course the debates of the office-bearers (with the exception of General Secretary), namely the President, Vice-President, Treasurers, Heads of Clubs and Societies, Activities’ Chairpersons, Welfare Officers, Publicity Officers, Wom*n’s Officers and the Editors. I was one of the rare few who could actually adjust my timetable around the debates, which were held from 12.00 PM to 3.00 PM, 18 September to 20 September.

The debates were held in a town-hall style where candidates delivered their opening speeches, after which they would ask and answer questions from the opposing team. When that is done, three questions were opened to current MUSA members of each position to be answered by both teams, and then the questions would be opened to the floor. Written below are the names of the respective candidates and their parties, and a summary of what they have presented through the course of the debates.

President prez

Day One Highlights

Presidential Debate

  • Ivan Lim, (Transcend):
    • Seeks to have a parallel progression between academic and co-curricular activities through a cultivated and pro-active environment within Monash
    • Promises that he and his team would not have a lackadaisical attitude in governing MUSA as they are now currently sub-committee members and are showing due diligence in their work. Their experience within MUSA ranks were also referred to as added networking advantage.
  • Hassam Waheed, (Sapientia):
    • Wants to improve the bridge of communications between MUSA and the student population.
    • Believes that it is a privilege to serve the students in MUSA, rather than a right as elected candidates, a value which he would instill in his team-members.

Vice-Presidential Debate

  • Natalie Tan and Yolanda Wong (Transcend):
    • Plan to create a better environment for students who are less fortunate by raising awareness towards their plights and treating them with respect.
    • Will endeavor towards making student life at Monash more enjoyable by combining an engaging social life and creating a better studying experience for all students.
  • Chrismal Perera and Lydia Verona Chong, (Sapientia):
    • Gear themselves towards continuing the efforts of the current MUSA VPs to bring Monash merchandise into the Malaysian campus under the name “Monash University Malaysia”.
    • Want to instill a sense of unity between all communities in Monash Malaysia through various outlets.

Treasurers Debate

  • Cheong Jia Li and Andrew Chu, (Transcend):
    • Will maintain the greatest level of transparency of the MUSA accounts by publishing them onto social media networks linked to MUSA, and allowing students to check them at their office.
    • Seek to maintain the smooth operation of the department and will cut down the time needed for reimbursements by updating students about any policy changes
  • Kamalanathan and Juliana, (Sapientia):
    • Will focus on value-for-money events
    • Plan to introduce a cash-in-advance system for clubs that direly need funds – provided that they have sufficient grounds for such a request.

Despite the fact that the positions on debate for Day One were among the most important ones in MUSA, the attendance was lukewarm. Both presidential candidates failed to engage the crowds, and they also could not answer questions given to them by the floor in a direct manner – preferring to beat around the bush.  In general, both parties favored the progress of the current MUSA members and found themselves aligned towards replicating and of course, improving their track record. However, none of the parties described the exact manner in which they planned to bring the improvement they promised.

Activities also bros

Day Two Highlights

Heads of Clubs & Societies Debate

  • Tan Yinn Wayne and Joshua Foo, (Transcend):
    • Wish to create a sense of unity – where students could find a sense of belonging in one of the many clubs and/or societies by increasing student participation and by allowing current clubs and societies to grow via sponsorships and other investors.
    • Endeavor towards reducing the processing time needed for event approvals in the EMR system.
  • Aschel Soza and Sarah Wan Idrus, (Sapientia):
    • Will provide clubs and societies with proper equipment, facilities and venues, as well as to provide them with avenues towards better coaching and training by related experts.
    • Encourage the increased levels of competition in both sporting and non-sporting clubs in various levels, locally and internationally.

Activities’ Chairpersons Debate

  • Chuah Seong Han and Kelly Santoso Anggani, (Transcend):
    • Strive towards creating enjoyable and memorable events.
    • Will improve the bonds amongst students through these events.
    • Events planned are:
      • Monash Fun Challenge
      • Costume Dinner Party
      • Crazy Capture Day
  • Shangeeth Sharmilee and Tazkia Arusa, (Sapientia):
    • Brighten and enrich the social lives of the students through the activities/events held
    • Assist in developing the soft-skills of the students by engaging them in MUSA activities.

Welfare Officers Debate

  • Khoo Vincent and Olga Scarlett, (Transcend):
    • Seek to repair all faulty facilities in the campus.
    • Work with the Wom*n’s Officers to introduce ladies’ only hours in the gym
    • Request SMR management to allow students to park at the road leading to SMR (as a temporary measure) and to request the opening of the SMR entrance to non-students.
  • Tan Zong-Ying and Wasay Rashid, (Sapientia):
    • Remedy the parking issue by creating awareness for car-pooling.
    • Improve Wi-Fi coverage on campus.
    • Increase ventilation in the cafeteria.
    • Solve noise-level, lack of laptops and faulty furniture in the library.

The turnout for Day Two was less than Day One. Concrete promises were given by each of the candidates, unlike the previous day. Candidates from both teams gave textbook answers to questions derived from the MUSA and Clubs and Societies’ Constitutions, while they handled questions from the floor with greater aplomb than their teammates from the day before. There was an emphasis of working with other MUSA members to achieve their goal – bringing an image of internal cohesion between the members of both teams – a possible sign that they were able to work together as a functioning unit.

transcend vote sapientia

Day Three Highlights

Publicity Officers Debate

  • Rachel Yap Xin and Hazel Hah Chien Yie, (Transcend):
    • Will improve the social media networks linked to MUSA and also to create a mobile-friendly version of the MUSA homepage to create awareness of MUSA and its comings and goings.
    • Plan to implement online “suggestion boxes” via Ask.fm and other social media networks
      • The establishment of Monash Radio in the Malaysian campus will be an added advantage
  • Jumana Abuwala and Thiviyah Kailainathan, (Sapientia):
    • Create a MUSA Instagram account
      • Instagram is clutter-free, fast and easy to use – successfully delivering information in pictures through various social media formats
    • Transfer the voices of the students collected through all the MUSA channels to the appropriate departments.

Wom*n’s Officers Debate

  • Wooi Sze Lyn and Shannon Dorothy Francis, (Transcend):
    • Organize different activities relative to the female population of Monash University.
    • Provide counselling services to all women who require assistance.
  • Goucelia Seva Kumar and Ilham Fatima, (Sapientia):
    • Focus on the similarities between the women despite their different backgrounds – uniting them through diversity
    • Organize cancer-awareness activities and increase female participation in sports.
    • Ensure female students have access to gym equipment as well as to make the gym a more female-friendly environment.

Editors Debate

  • Wong Wei Ying, Naadia Sehar Buhary, Yiow See Yeng and Soh Ai Lin, (Transcend):
    • Instill a culture of passion, dedication and discipline within the Editorial Board.
    • Use MonDo and MonGa for students to voice out their opinions and creative ideas freely and openly.
    • Promote full transparency by posting MUSA meeting minutes on an improved MonDo website.
  • Ahmed Al-Mansari, Ailyn Low, Parvin Sandhu, Anushiya Suresh, (Sapientia):
    • Add various new content categories to MonDo, as well as making it a more interactive platform for students i.e.:
      • Photo-essays
      • Animal welfare segments
      • Current “world” affairs
      • Surveys related to students’ interests

       

brosHere’s the funny thing: although Day Three was the last day of the Election Debates, it was also the day where the fieriest exchanges took place. Current MUSA Publicity Officer, Charmaine Cheng had to repeat herself three times during the question and answer session, due to either a faulty sound system or other technicalities, while an audience member asked the Wom*n’s Officer Candidates if they would approve the creation of a Men’s Officer, or even an LGBT Officer (a position served in the Australian campuses), which garnered uncomfortable glances among the candidates. Both teams approved of the creation of the LGBT officer should the opportunity arise at the end. Meanwhile, during the Editors’ debate, the Fourth Estate was mentioned, as the MUSA Editor does not have voting rights but has a seat on the Council. Both parties used the term wrongly, thinking that it meant being the “voice of the students”. They were corrected by the current MUSA President, Melvin D’Silva, who stated that the Fourth Estate was essentially the government watchdog. There was also a comment from an anonymous audience member that the debate was a “mere production of pretty words, it’s as if we’re sitting in a garden.”

happy together

Collectively, the speakers from both teams showed their mettle as potential candidates as members of MUSA. Although some of them could not articulate their ideas well, whatever they managed to get across were rather solid solutions to current problems. One key trend from both parties was the heightened proposed use of social media platforms in the administration of MUSA, to be used not only to gather input from students, but also to disseminate information to the student body as well.

I hereby end this commentary by wishing all the candidates the very best of luck, and of course, “May the Force be with you”.

[Disclaimer: The views of the writer of this article do not represent the views of the Editorial Board, MUSA or the student body. They are her own, written here for the very purpose of commentary. This article was also written in collaboration with the Monash Election Reporting Unit. Transcriptions of the Election Debates can be found at this page: http://www.facebook.com/groups/425319784192332/

9 thoughts on “The Battle of the Giants: MUSA Election Debates 2013

  1. Not both questions promopted by MUSA was answered by both teams. Instead a specific question was prompted for each team individually. Which if i am not mistaken is a violation of the rules of debate. The moderator pointed it out but the EC but the person from MUSA who prompted the question just stated that, “it was already discussed”. I don’t know about you guys but I didn’t feel that the debate was held fairly. The representative for the Election Committee (Julius I think) also seemed pretty ignorant to what was going on. From my perspective of things the rules of debate are there to prompt fairness, you can’t just go about and change so it meets your needs.

      1. I am referring to the debates of the future MUSA committee. I I witnessed this for the presidential candidates. My friends say it was followed for the other candidates as well.

      2. Yeah was asking about which department debates had this happening at. Can you describe what you witnessed precisely at the presidential debate?

      3. The current president of MUSA only asked the Transcend team about what a Quorum was and not the member of Serpantia. Moreover, some of the questions prompted by MUSA members contained follow up questions. Which was a clear breach of the debate rules.

      4. Thank you for your comment. We have informed the rest of the council about it, awaiting their comments and replies.

  2. I am just another normal student in Monash University Malaysia. Let’s put aside the points proposed during the debate, what did both teams really do besides campaigning with all those performances and taking pictures for popularity votes? Just take a look at our Malaysia national election, efforts were taken in account even the smaller ones (ie. fixing roads and etc) before election held. Can you clearly state what have both teams done to show worthiness for us, students to vote for one of them? Or maybe both the teams had done something but as a student who spent most of my time in the university, I didn’t notice any prominent effort taken by neither teams to make Monash Malaysia University a better place so make it clear to me. I really do hope the future MUSA takes care of students’ well being, not just entertainment wise. In another note, I was stucked in the university today because I can’t get to my car due to the rain and I’m sure I’m not the only one. Maybe something could be done about that?

    1. Well, let’s look at it this way, most MUSA election candidates do not run again for the same positions, unlike in Malaysian politics, where the same players vie for the same constituencies over and over again. ^.^

  3. I am really not sure if Just Another Student was making a joke about his comment or he really did mean it. Especially the one about the rain. Do check the MUSA lounge for umbrella loaning services which have been going on a for a few years now. About the rain, well you have to consult God or whatever you believe in for that. And for the credibility of Malaysian politics, do you really want to drag that in with a bunch of University kids trying out on a small field of student body leadership? Do ponder on what you have to say before saying or asking. Thanks.

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