One of the most discussed topics recently has been whether Hong Kong property should be reserved for Hongkongers.
Debaters from CCC Ming Kei College and Ying Wa Girls' School met in the third round of the 14th Nesta-SCMP debating competition to debate the motion "that only residents should be permitted to buy housing in Hong Kong".
The team of Form Five students from Ming Kei - Cynthia Chan Hei-yi, Joe Law Yiu-man and Rocky Chan Lok-ki - supported the motion, and the team from Ying Wa - Mathilda Kwong Yuan-shang, Hilda To Hing-ka and Shirley Lam Hiu-tung - took the negative side.
The debate was held at CCC Ming Kei College on February 5.
Stephen Farmer, a teacher from Pui Tak Canossian College, was the adjudicator. After both teams produced convincing arguments, Farmer awarded the victory to Ming Kei because they had a clear team line and stronger teamwork.
"The first speaker did a good job giving the team line, and the other speakers were able to further develop this with convincing arguments," he said. "The first speaker of the negative side did not come up with a team line."
The definition of "residents" in the motion was a key to the affirmative side's more convincing argument. The negative side argued that limiting foreigners' rights to buy property in Hong Kong amounted to discrimination.
But the point was quickly shot down by the affirmative side, who defined the term "residents" as people who work and live in Hong Kong. "We are not discriminating against people from any background or race," said Joe Law, Ming Kei's second speaker. "Residents can come from anywhere in the world, as long as they are legally living and working in Hong Kong."
The issue of whether it was fair to allow only residents to buy flats was another point that both sides discussed in depth. The affirmative side said only local residents who had contributed to the economy of Hong Kong should be allowed to buy property. They condemned foreign speculators for pushing up property prices at the expense of local residents.
The negative side rebutted this, saying it was unfair to blame high property prices on foreign speculators, because there were many local speculators in the housing market, as well. They also pointed out that foreign buyers made up only a small percentage of property investors and eliminating them would do little to lower property prices.
The contest, which is sponsored by The Edge Learning Centre, is organised by the Native English Speaking Teachers' Association, and the South China Morning Post.