Tuen Mun Government Secondary School defeated Diocesan Girls' School (DGS) in the Division Three semi-final of the 14th Nesta-SCMP Debating Competition.
In a match-up between Form Two students, the teams debated the motion "Tenants of public housing estates should be allowed to keep pets, such as cats and dogs".
Windsor Yau, Sharon Lo and Vodka Ho, of Tuen Mun Government Secondary School, which hosted the debate, supported the motion. Samantha Lai, Ellen Chan and Tiffany Tang, of DGS, opposed it.
Teachers Brian Lee, of Shung Tak Catholic English College, and Sandy Leung, of STFA Leung Kau Kui College, were the adjudicators for the debate on April 18.
The affirmative side said that keeping pets improves the owners' quality of life, especially if the owners are elderly. The team also said keeping pets was a basic human right, which should not be restricted.
The negative side argued that keeping pets can prove a nuisance, especially in the cramped living spaces of public housing estates.
"Dogs barking is a huge concern, especially in the densely populated public housing estates," said Samantha Lai, the first speaker for the opposition.
She added: "Some people may also be allergic to animals."
To highlight safety concerns about keeping pets, her team also mentioned cases of animals that have attacked people.
However, Sharon Lo, the second speaker on the affirmative side, said pets posed no problems if their owners were responsible.
"Education, not restriction, should be the solution to keeping pets," she said.
"Cases of pets attacking people are the result of owners not taking good care of their pets.
"If pet owners are doing their job, there will be no concerns about hygiene or causing problems to" people around them, she said. "Having pets properly trained is the key. Pet owners should be given more education, rather then being banned completely from keeping animals."
Lee said both teams impressed with their research and reasoned arguments. But judges gave the victory to the affirmative side because the three speakers demonstrated better team work.
"The affirmative team had better time-keeping, rebuttals, and showed stronger teamwork. Their case development, using figures and research, was not defeated successfully by their opponents."
The opposition also lost marks because of their poor time management.
"All three speakers in the negative team went over time with their speeches, so there were penalties," Leung said.
However, Ellen Chan, the negative team's second speaker, won the "Best Speaker award.
"Her rebuttals were very strong. She did a very clever job of integrating her rebuttals into her speech," Leung said.
The contest, sponsored by The Edge Learning Centre, is organised by the Native English Speaking Teachers' Association and the South China Morning Post.