In the fifth round of the 13th Nesta-SCMP Debating Competition, students grappled with the controversial topic of organ donation. The motion was "consent for organ donation should be assumed".
Debaters from Tuen Mun Government Secondary School - Form Five students Sammi Yu Sham-yee and Joyce Hung Hiu-king, and sixth-former Edwin Leung Lap-pong - supported the motion. Opposing the argument were La Salle College's fifth-formers Chris Ho Wing-yuk, Samuel Ng and Witty Wang. The debate took place on October 3 at Tuen Mun Government Secondary School and was adjudicated by Anne Kiely from Yuen Long Lutheran Secondary School and Brian Maclean from YOT Tin Ka Ping Secondary School.
The supporting side drew listeners' attention to the serious shortage of organs. They pointed out that many people die every day because they are not able to find suitable donors. If consent for organ donation was assumed, many more people would donate their organs and more lives could be saved.
The opposing side said they understood the problem of insufficient organ supply but they thought raising public awareness was a better way to solve it.
"One option is a compulsory choice for organ donation. Citizens would be asked to state in advance whether they want to donate their organs or not. In this way, awareness of the issue would be raised. People should have the right to decide on what they want to do with their organs. Assuming their consent would be unreasonable and unethical," said Samuel, the second speaker from La Salle.
Both sides presented strong arguments but in the end the adjudicators decided to give the edge to Tuen Mun because they had done more research and spoke at a better pace.
Kiely thought the first and second speakers from the opposing side spoke too fast. She also thought that their point on compulsory choice was not strong enough because they did not clearly state at what age citizens could make their choice.
Maclean said the supporting side presented a well-researched debate covering the topic's social, political, economic and ethical aspects.
Maclean reminded speakers to be careful with their gestures and eye contact. "Adjudicators begin to judge a debater from the moment he or she stands up, not when the timer starts. Quite a few speakers started their speech with 'Ladies and gentlemen' today, but they looked at their note cards when they were saying the word 'gentlemen'. They could have done a better job with eye contact," he said.
Edwin, the third speaker of the supporting side, was named the best speaker.
"He spoke with confidence and with good pace. His points were easy to follow," said Maclean.
The annual contest is organised by the Native English Speaking Teachers' Association and the South China Morning Post.