Guest Article: MUN in Singapore

Article by Prithvi Vijay Kumar

Bio – Prithvi Vijay Kumar, 11 MUNs (Singapore, GIIS). Apart from the time he spends MUNing, Prithvi is a self-proclaimed book connoisseur, and an avid follower of cricket – all whilst lamenting about the looming deadlines his procrastination has made worse.

Although I claim to be an avid MUNner, my first brush with this unique platform occurred not too many years ago – fearing the worst when it comes to external MUNs, it was when MUN fever hit my school that I eventually took the deep dive. And 5 years later –from a newbie in SPECPOL, representing Thailand and cursing my country’s irrelevance to the topic, to Russia in NATO, cursing my country’s relevance to the topic – it has been a ride that I would not trade for anything else in the world. Throughout this journey of mine, there has always been this question asked of me – For what joy are you spending these three days, dressed in an outfit that is in no way suitable to my country’s weather, debating relevant ongoing issues and imagined non-issues, when it is in no way going to have a tangible impact on society? My de facto response has always been to say – MUN is not only about the issues being debated; it is the nurturing of the confidence of an individual; it is a peephole to the real world for him, or it might just be an excuse for them to vent out their anger at a particularly annoying fellow delegate. Whatever the reason, MUNs are an integral aspect of the fabric of High School, and Collegiate life.

MUNs in Singapore tend to be the one of the best received, and well-attended events – even with the number increasing year by year, conferences increasingly overshoot their forecast number for a target audience. Even more than the Organising team or even the delegates of the conference, the Chairs of the various committees have an integral role to play – it is in their hands to make or break a delegate; it is their behaviour and approach which determines whether or not the MUN count of a particular delegate will increase. Being the type of delegate that I am, I tend to participate more in Inter-school MUNs, and almost exclusively in Crisis Committees – where a loud voice and thick skin (both of which I have in abundance) come in handy. So when my first opportunity to chair was in a JCC, it was almost as if the Mothership was calling me home.

I have only chaired a council twice – one as the Head Chair of JCC, and the other as the Co-Chair of WHO. Councils in Singapore tend to increasingly have a reliance on a single, influential delegate, and having been to only local MUNs, I regarded that as the norm; yet, when I went to Cambridge, UK to attend the Inaugural CUIMUN-HS, I was pleasantly shocked to notice the complete lack of a Power Delegate, and was confused as to how easy-going, and friendly delegates where with one another – any of my previous MUNs in Singapore would inevitably have had at least 2 delegates at each other’s throats by the second day. The second aspect which I noticed in Cambridge, and tried to instil in my delegates in Singapore was the need for Blocs – and how much more effective council would be, as a direct result of them. When thinking about the difference between the two councils I have chaired, it was the difference in dynamics of these aforementioned aspects which stood out.

 As I fancy myself to be a Power Delegate, I did not see the big deal with having a one-person lead council – I assumed that the increase in efficiency and speed of proceedings would serve the committee well. Yet as a Chair in JCC, I realised that I had to urge council to not blindly follow the words of a particular delegate, and at one point of time even assume the role of a missing delegate to pinpoint the deficiencies in the argument of the Power Delegate, in an attempt to galvanise council to rise to the occasion – a Backroom always prefers a variety of ideas from a number of delegates, in order to direct debate in a meaningful manner. This problem was not so prevalent in the beginner committee, the bare fact is that the majority didn’t have the experience to wield the Gauntlet of a “Power Delegate”. Interestingly, this phenomenon meant that debate slowed and dawdled in the JCC, as committee centred around one delegate, and debate seldom slacked in the WHO.

 In terms of formation of Blocs, the converse holds – by the time delegates reach the level of an advanced council, they tend to more or less be experts at working Blocs – be it manipulating existing ones, or creating new and interesting ones. The dynamics of these blocs ensured that some level of conflict was always present within committee – and conflict is integral for any committee to move ahead in debate. WHO, on the other hand, tended not to form blocs or be confrontational to one another – whilst this lead to a more cordial atmosphere in the room, what with the absence of assassination plots and nuclear threats, the conformity did lead to certain committee sessions being described as ‘boring’ by the delegates.

“What you see with your own two eyes is false. What you hear with your own two ears is false. Only thorough research yields true answers.”

This is a quote is one which I shared with the delegates who I chaired – MUN isn’t merely about identifying the loudest, most confident delegate; nor are the roles of council written in stone as per the allocation of countries; it more often comes down the depth of research undertaken, and the level to which the delegate has stuck to the stance of his/her country. As a chair, I’d say my biggest takeaway was watching the delegates debate, and picking up tactics and strategies that I, during my time as a delegate, was not mindful off – for never was I able to formulate a full-fledged resolution, win back the independence of my allocated country, and pacify two warring blocs; all in the space of an hour-long lunch break.

MUN01 would like to thank Prithvi for their contribution! This is our last guest article of the year- which means we will be looking for new writers soon! Keep a look out on our social media and the website for updates on when we will be actively looking.

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