Schools face-off in fierce debate over the introduction of a minimum wage law, writes Wong Yat-hei
Pui Tak Canossian College
Sacred Heart Canossian College
In the third round of the 11th Nesta-SCMP Inter-School Debating Competition, Pui Tak Canossian College and Sacred Heart Canossian College tackled the motion: 'Having the minimum wage law will do more harm than good to Hong Kong.'
The contest is jointly organised by the Native English Speaking Teachers' Association and the South China Morning Post, and is sponsored by the Hong Kong Jockey Club. The debate took place at Pui Tak Canossian College on Tuesday.
Pui Tak, which took the negative side, was declared the winner.
Adjudicator Perry Bayer, a native English teacher at CCC Mei Kei College, gave the edge to Pui Tak for their better strategy and consistency. 'First speaker Katie Tong [Ka-yee] came out really strong, introducing the team line and rebutted straight away,' Bayer said. 'Second speaker Josephine Mak [Tsz-yan] was able to provide strong statistics to support their case and third speaker Michelle Yam [Suet-yi] did a great job summarising and concluding the debate.'
Bayer praised the presentation skills of all the debaters, saying they showed confidence and spoke clearly. He advised them to be more aware of the speed at which they are speaking. 'Debating is about getting the points across clearly to the audience, so it always helps to concentrate on what you are talking about by slowing down,' he said. 'Of course it is also important to maintain eye contact with the audience. I suggest debaters find a friend or a person in the audience to look at in order to maintain eye contact.'
Both teams argued fiercely over how the introduction of a minimum wage law will affect employment opportunities in Hong Kong. Sacred Heart said the law would increase production costs, and force employers to fire more workers. This would put huge pressure on the city's social welfare services.
Pui Tak responded by saying that the lay-offs would only have a short-term effect. In the long run, Hong Kong would benefit from higher output as the law would boost workers' morale.
Michelle pointed out that Hong Kong had the lowest unemployment rate in the developed world but suffered from a huge wealth gap because of the low salaries paid to unskilled workers.
Bayer praised both teams for looking up statistics and quoting from famous economists. 'The minimum wage is something I read about in the newspaper every day. Both teams have taught me an economics lesson,' he said.
Sacred Heart's Minnie So Hang-tung was named the best speaker of the debate. 'I think the first speakers of both teams are great. In my opinion, the third speaker tends to be the key to victory as he or she has to summarise the points of the first two speakers and conclude the debate. I would advise both teams to switch their first speaker to be the third in future,' said Bayer.