It was a day to remember for Tuen Mun Government Secondary School as they defeated Carmel Secondary School in the grand final of this year's Hong Kong Secondary Schools Debating Competition.
The team of Natalie Wong Suet-man, Kristy Leung Ka-man, and Audrey Chan Man-wai claimed the winners' trophy, while Audrey received the prize for best speaker at the final, held at City University on May 29.
The debate focused on whether environmentally sensitive areas should be added to Hong Kong's country parks.
Tuen Mun argued passionately in support of the motion. Each speaker fully supported the team's main point; that such measures would protect nature and local traditions.
Carmel's team of Alpha Wan Yueng-tak, Ryan Yeung Wai-yen, and Justin Leung argued against the motion.
They relied heavily on the use of numbers to support their claims that such measures would violate the rights of private property ownership.
Ryan captured the team's stance, saying: "We should never be too comfortable with someone else's property being taken."
The debate came down to a clash between whether environmental concerns carried greater importance than property rights.
While the team defending the motion relied heavily on emotional appeal, the opposing side countered with facts and hard numbers.
Hong Kong Schools Debating Council chairman Michael Evershed was one of the three adjudicators, along with Mehvesh Mumtaz Ahmed, an international debating specialist, and Steven Lee, coach of Heep Yunn School's debating team.
Evershed, who is also manager of the Hong Kong World Schools Debating Championship team, recommended that all debaters use analogies to expand their arguments and offer a wider perspective to the audience.
He urged the speakers not to repeat phrases, and to focus instead on rebutting specific statements made by their opponents.
"Direct engagement is something that can improve all debaters," Evershed said.