Boy’s passionate speech for love of durian won hearts of judges


An authentic and captivating delivery scored five-year old Isaac Koh a champion title in the Pre-school category of the 12th YMCA Mandarin Speaking Awards (MSA) 2018. Speaking on his love of durian, the boy won the hearts of judges and left a judge craving for the King of Fruits after listening to his speech.

Isaac’s achievement was celebrated at the 12th YMCA Mandarin Speaking Awards (MSA) 2018 Prize Presentation Ceremony which saw close to 200 guests gather at YMCA’s Lee Kong Chian Auditorium on Friday 25 May 2018. Mr Ong Ye Kung, Minister for Education graced the event as Guest-of-honour and presented the prizes.

“This year we see more outstanding participants delivering emotive speeches with poise and eloquence. As the competition intensifies, I am heartened to see the continued efforts by all students to achieve excellence in public speaking,” said Mr Kenneth Tan, Chairman, YMCA Mandarin Speaking Awards 2018.

The annual YMCA MSA is a national level public speaking competition supported by the Ministry of Education and the Promote Mandarin Council. As a competition, YMCA MSA is designed not only to challenge the participant’s Mandarin-speaking abilities but also their adaptability to think and perform on their feet. At the same time, YMCA MSA strives to inculcate a spirit of community service among its participants. This year, the 20 finalists from the secondary school category volunteered with two of YMCA of Singapore’s community service projects, and they were tasked to draft their finals speech based on that experience.

“The YMCA Mandarin Speaking Awards strives to give our young students the platform to not only practise but also thoroughly master the language they speak. Indeed, the mastery of a language is a truly valuable skill, especially in the interconnected world of today. It is the key to effective communication, leadership, and most importantly nurturing of relationships,” said Mr Leslie Wong, President, YMCA of Singapore.

This year’s competition attracted a total of 201 participants from 60 schools. The selection was held over ten weeks (from 19 March to 25 May 2018) with the aim of sharpening Mandarin speaking skills and building self-confidence among the youths. Students competed in Pre-school, Lower Primary, Upper Primary, Lower Secondary and Upper Secondary categories, and were judged on speech content, language, manner of delivery and expression. The Secondary School finalists were also subjected to an impromptu bilingualism speech segment where they delivered their speeches in Mandarin and English.

Click here to view photos of the event.