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The first Malaysian to win the coveted English-Speaking Union (ESU) International Public Speaking Competition last year, Marina Tan Hsien Wei received her prize at a ceremony held earlier last month.

“Leadership and independence are important values in my life and my parents have always taught me to balance academic achievements with extra-curricular involvement.

“I learnt to read at a young age and continued reading voraciously. This was one of the major factors that led to the development of my public speaking skills,” she said after receiving a trophy and a certificate from The ESU chairman Dame Mary Richardson at a ceremony held at the House of Lords in London.

She beat 53 other international participants in a nail-biting grand final.

With the theme “The Head or the Heart?”, Marina wowed the judges with her speech on youth activism titled “The Game Changers”.

Marina won the all-expenses-paid trip to London to represent Malaysia at the international competition held in May last year, after emerging as champion in The Star-ESU Malaysia-SEGi Public Speaking Competition 2012.

She scored 9A+ in her Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia and is currently pursuing her A-Levels at Kolej Yayasan UEM.

“Winning this international competition has reaffirmed my confidence in my own abilities.

“I hope to focus on debating in the near future and try activities that involve critical thinking, discourse and discussion on interesting topics.”

Marina’s advice to all potential speakers is to grow to love speaking.

“An effective speaker must have a message to deliver and it is something he or she believes in. In time, the racing heart and shaking knees will disappear!” she said.

The former SMK Perempuan Methodist Penang student has been active in the fields of public speaking and debate since her primary school days and won the Education Ministry’s National English Speaking Competition when she was in Form Four.

She hopes to study engineering and business in a top institution so that she can contribute to the transformation of Malaysia’s electrical and electronics industry.

Since the country’s participation in the ESU International Public Speaking Competition in 2003, Malaysian representatives have entered the final stage six times where students Jean Lee, Wong Xiao Qing and Siti Khadija Jaafar bagged awards in 2003, 2004 and 2009 respectively.

The Malaysian segment of the competition last year was jointly organised by The Star, The English Speaking Union of Malaysia (ESU Malaysia) and SEGi University.

The competition provides a platform for young Malaysians to develop their confidence in speaking up and expressing their views.

ESU Malaysia was founded in 2000. It celebrated its 10th public speaking competition in 2012.

The union actively carries out activities from book projects to writing competitions, evening tea talks and sponsorship of Malaysians to the International Relations Conference at Oxford University, United Kingdom.

ESU Malaysia chairman Tunku Dara Naquiah Tuanku Ja’afar hopes to take the union to greater heights in the years to come by expanding its membership base and offering more exciting events for Malaysians of all ages, as well as contributing in a bigger way to international goodwill and understanding.

*This article first appeared in The Star newspaper on the 3rd of March 2013.

See 10 Years in Review by clicking here

The Star and the English Speaking Union of Malaysia (ESU Malaysia) Public Speaking Competition recently celebrated its 10th year competition anniversary.

The ESU Malaysia Public Speaking Competition 2012, which was open to all students aged between 16 and 20 provided a platform for young Malaysians to develop their confidence in speaking up and expressing their views.

The grand finals, which was held recently, saw 12 finalists competing for the coveted spot to represent Malaysia at the ESU International Public Speaking Competition 2012 in London. The competition will be held in London from May 14 to 18.

Happy 10th anniversary: (From left) ESU Malaysia committee members Raja Datuk Seri Arshad, Gail Featherstone, Datin Shalini Ganendra, Star Publications (M) Bhd chief events officer Iris Tan, chairman Tunku Dara Naquiah, S. Radhakrishnan and Datuk Seri Azman Ujang posing with the anniversary cake.

ESU Malaysia plays an important role in promoting international understanding and human achievement through the use of the English language.

It has organised public speaking workshops, book projects, writing competitions, fun-with-English workshops in schools, evening tea talks and sponsored Malaysians to the International Relations Conference at Oxford University, UK.

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