German Swiss International School won the gold division of the Seventh Senior Debating Championship Grand Finals. They opposed the motion "Whistle-blowers make the world safer", defeating Chinese International School.
The competition, organised by Hong Kong Schools Debating and Public Speaking Community (HKSDC), was held at Yew Ching International School last Wednesday.
The winning team consisted of Caitlin Fischer, Year 13; Petra Ho, Year 12, and Angel Cheung, Year 11. The CIS debaters were Aspen Wang, Year 13, Travis Pilling, Year 12, and Allegra Bersani, Year 12.
Proposing the motion, CIS argued that whistle-blowers do make the world a safer place because they publicise the shady actions and behaviour of authorities, thus inspiring them to change for the better.
The GSIS team rebutted the argument, claiming the sensitive information released by whistle-blowers has led to tense relationships between countries. After disclosing their information, whistle-blowers also put themselves at great risk, as the authorities whose actions they expose will try to hunt them down.
Aspen Wang speaks in defence of whistle-blowers
Mehvesh Mumtaz Ahmed, chief adjudicator of the World Schools Debating Championship and chairperson of the judging panel, said both teams stood up for what they believe from start to finish.
"The [issue in the] debate is black and white," Ahmed said. "The debate is in black and white. The proposition believes whistle-blowers serve a noble purpose, and the opposition thinks whistleblowers are evil. I wish there could be more grey areas."
Even the adjudicators debated intensely over which side was more convincing. The rest of the panel was made up of Peter Broe from the NET section of the Education Bureau; Michael Evershed, a teacher at South Island School and founder of HKSDC; and native English teachers Stan Dyer and Tom Derbyshire.
"The decision came down to two questions: are whistle-blowers making society a safer place because they monitor the government, and how do whistle-blowers damage the safety of the world?" Ahmed said. "In the end, the judging panel decided 3-2 that the opposition was more convincing."
GSIS student Caitlin was named best speaker. "She was able to maintain eye contact with the audience. The variations in her tone are great, and she spoke at the right pace," said Ahmed.
Silver and Bronze division debates also took place on the day. Island School beat La Salle College for the silver division title by opposing the motion "The war on drugs should be ended."
Raimondi College defeated Sha Tin College in the bronze division final by opposing the motion "Hong Kong should ban all forms of gambling." Raimondi argued gambling causes no harm because it has no direct link to unemployment and crime. They also said it was unfair to deprive people of their right to entertain themselves by gambling.
Additional reporting by junior reporter Joy Pamnani