Concordia Lutheran Secondary School and Po Kok Secondary School both shone bright in the 14th Nesta-SCMP Debating Competition.
Concordia defeated Kowloon Sam Yuk Secondary School to claim first place in Division One B, which is for Chinese Medium Instruction (CMI) schools.
In the final of Division Two A, also for CMI schools, Po Kok defeated Sam Yuk to win the title.
The schools debated the motion that public transport in Hong Kong should be free.
The debates were adjudicated by Gina Green, regional NET co-ordinator from the Education Bureau; Jeff Bell from HKFEW Wong Cho Bau Secondary School; and Julian Galvin, CEO of Palladian Financial Planning.
The debaters from Concordia - Form Five students Tony Ng Hei-tung and Mandee Lung Nok-yee, and fourth former Anderson Cheung Yu-hin - supported the motion.
Sam Yuk's team - Vivian Ma Wing-yan, Queena Cheong Ka-wing and Michelle Wu Miaoxuan, all Form Five students - opposed it.
Concordia said making public transport free was a great way to reduce the number of private cars and make Hong Kong a greener city. They cited the examples of Discovery Bay and Lamma Island where private cars are not allowed.
The judges were impressed by the reference. "They were able to make use of a local example to build their case, which made their argument strong," Bell said.
The affirmative side also earned praise for their presentation. "The speakers managed to make their speeches individual. I could see their personality and that made them stand out," Bell said.
The Division Two A final was a hard-fought battle among Form Four students. Bela Cheung Tung-sheung, Phoebe Leung Tsz-yan and George Chan Yat-hei from Sam Yuk were the affirmative side. Arguing against them were Po Kok's Alice Wong Chin-chun, Lulu Kam Tsz-ching and Coby Siu Lok-yan.
Sam Yuk said making public transport free could reduce pollution by reducing the number of cars on the city's roads.
Po Kok countered that free public transport was not feasible because the companies that run buses and trains would not give up on their profits. That argument helped them win.
Galvin said the negative side's approach in tackling the motion from an economic point of view was impressive.
"The affirmative side talked about the environmental costs but those are soft numbers that cannot be measured, so I found the negative argument more convincing," he said.
The debates were held at City University on May 30. 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.