Pentecostal Lam Hon Kwong School took home the championship at the NESTA-SCMP Debating competition after defeating SKH Chan Young Secondary School in yesterday's showdown at City University of Hong Kong.
In the finals of the 15th NESTA-SCMP Debating Competition, organised by the Native English Speaking Teachers' Association and the South China Morning Post, the schools debated the notion that Hong Kong should abolish the live-in rule for maids.
The team of fifth-form pupils from Chan Young - Cammy Lam Sze-ning, Bess Chan Lam and Alison Tang Chui-ting - argued in favour of abolishing the rule.
Debaters from Lam Hon Kwong School - Sally Chiu Sze-on (form five), Peter Yau Hok-sum (form six) and Kenny Chan Long-hei (form four) argued against it.
Kenny, who won best speaker in the debate, credited the team's success to their thorough preparation. "Many teams like to brainstorm ideas but we like to take a practical approach towards things. Every point we raise, we try to anticipate how the opponent will rebut us," he said.
Kenny was happy to see his team's hard work pay off. "The victory is not only for the debaters on the stage. The entire debating team with 10 members worked very hard the past week, after school during recess and lunch time to help us get ready. Our classmates kept challenging our arguments; it was much better than thinking of arguments on our own," he said.
The debate was adjudicated by Andrea Hales from the British Council, Gina Green Regional NET coordinator, Education Bureau, Dr Nick Thomas, associate professor, Department of Asian and International Studies, City University of Hong Kong, Greg Forse coach of Hong Kong debating team and Ian Sanderson native English teacher at TWGHs Kap Yan Directors' College.
The topic of the night is a hot social issue after a rash of abuse cases involving domestic helpers made headlines recently.
The debate was a clash between human rights and practicality. The side arguing against the live-in rule said it violated human rights. Those arguing to keep it made the case that with the low income of maids, it was impossible for them to find accommodations. The live-in rule therefore ensures that maids are given a place to live, they said.
Sanderson said two teams brought very different styles: Those in favour of the ban played on the emotions and those against it used logic. "The affirmative speakers were able to highlight the tragic circumstances for the maids, which is appealing. But the negative side responded really well by bringing up the practical issue that maids simply cannot afford to live on their own [here] with such low pay," he said.
In other divisions, Pui Ching Middle School won Division 1B, Carmel Secondary School was crowned champion for Division 2A, Ning Po College was the winner for Division 2B and Diocesan Girls' School was the Division Three champion.
Winners of all divisions will receive a HK$4000 cash prize sponsored by the South China Morning Post.