Tuesday, April 21, 2020

And The Most Awards Go To... Team UM (Price Media 2020)

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought the world to a standstill. Most countries are in full or partial lockdown. Borders are closed. International events have either been cancelled or postponed (e.g. Tokyo Olympics and Coachella).

Unsurprisingly, moot competitions have not been spared either. The Jessup International Rounds scheduled in mid-April 2020 was cancelled, crushing the dreams of National Champions worldwide. Some competitions being more flexible and tech-savvy have gone virtual, notably the Willem C. Vis International Commercial Arbitration Moot (Vienna, Austria) and Price Media Law Moot (Oxford, UK).

In March-April 2020, Team University of Malaysia (UM) took part in the inaugural Virtual International Rounds of the Price Media Law Moot. Earlier in December 2019, Team UM had advanced through the Asia-Pacific Regional Rounds in China (in a normal live moot before COVID-19 struck).

Here's the roll of achievements for Team UM:
  • 1st-ranked team in the Preliminary Rounds of the Internationals (out of 28 teams)
  • Semi-Finalist of the Internationals
  • Runners-Up Best Oralist (Peh Qi Hui) plus 2 others in the Top 5 Oralists of the Internationals (Azra Fauzi - 3rd; Saradha Lakshmi - 4th)
  • Runners-Up Best Memorial of the Internationals
  • Runners-Up of the Asia-Pacific Regionals
  • Runners-Up Memorial of the Asia-Pacific Regionals
  • Runners-Up Best Oralist of the Asia-Pacific Regionals (Peh Qi Hui)
The Silver Sisters

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Sadly, Team UM fell short to winning gold.

Still, the team bagged the most awards - a set of silvers! The mooters were consistently highly-rated, from Beijing to Oxford. Such are signs of consistency, not luck (which frequently arises in a moot).

Moreover, such achievements are impressive from a team of such humble stature. This is only Team UM's third foray in the competition (joined since 2018). The eventual Finalists were two veterans bestowed with rich experience and home advantage, Singapore Management University (2010) and University of Oxford (2012).

And unlike other teams filled with fourth and third-year students, Team UM consists of 3 second-years and 1 third-year (one mooter even dropped out from the Internationals due to personal difficulties during the lockdown, cutting down the team to 3 members!). Their mooting journey has only just begun. They're not even at their peak of their powers yet...

* * *

Here's another fun fact: Team Asia utterly dominated the Internationals!

Price Media Law Moot is divided into 8 regions. This year, 6 teams advanced from the Asia-Pacific Regional Rounds (2 Singapore, 2 Philippines, 1 China, 1 Malaysia).

Here's how well Team Asia fared in the Internationals:
  • 4 teams in the Top 5 Teams in the Preliminary Rounds
  • 3 teams in the Semi-Finals
  • 9 mooters in the Top 10 Best Oralist

Another fun fact: the two oralists of Team Oxford who spoke in the Semi-Final and Final Rounds are from Malaysia and Singapore! So technically, all semi-finalist mooters were Asians!

And mind you, this isn't an anomaly - Asia-Pacific teams have been winning the previous 5 Internationals since 2015 (and the 3 finals prior to that were won by teams from India, which fall under the South Asia region).


Few more steps to success...

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Despite the last-minute rush, the virtual moot in the Internationals went on rather smoothly (you can watch the Final Round on Youtube here). Kudos to the organising committee!

As the COVID-19 rages on, no one knows when normalcy will return. Virtual moot may be here to stay for the near future. Even UK Supreme Court hearings are now being held via video-conference. Perhaps this is the future of advocacy. Perhaps virtual moot will gain more traction.

Of course, virtual hearings can't replicate the experience of a real hearing (at least, not until 3D hologram imaging is perfected). Connectivity can be laggy. Teams from lesser-developed countries are at a technological disadvantage.

Nevertheless, great mooters will thrive, no matter the conditions, no matter how hard.

Congratulations, Team UM!

A truly diverse team representing all major races of Malaysia: Azra Fauzi (Malay), Peh Qi Hui (Chinese), Saradha Lakshmi (Indian), and Jowena John (Borneon native). Led by coach and former Price Media 2018 pioneer, Lee Suan Cui.

Malaysia, truly Asia! Stay awesome, keep winning!

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