On the second day of Hong Kong Model United Nations (HKMUN), heated discussions continued in every room.
The Legislative Council of Hong Kong (Legco), with 53 students representing different lawmakers, discussed the thorny issue of how to select Hong Kong’s chief executive.
But before anything could be done, they had to figure out the seating plan, because it seems that sparked debates in itself.
“There was an abundance of opinions on the seating plan. There was a lack of tables and only one placard per delegate,” said Helen Wong, a delegate at the Legco conference. She said this made it difficult to see the names of the people each delegate was playing, which made addressing them during the debates difficult.
In the end, Helen said the delegates were rearranged “into a semi-circle, physically replicating Legco, which in a way assisted us in discussing current affairs.”
Once sorted, the delegates playing the roles of figures such as Steven Ho and Regina Ip proposed a range of amendments including increasing the number of people on the nomination committee and adopting civic nomination.
Imitating a real legislative council, many amendments were proposed but little compromise was made. Most delegates voted against amendments put forward by another delegate.
After two days of debate, the lawmakers voted to pass the bill on universal suffrage for the chief executive with 27 out of the 41 lawmakers voting for the bill.
Their discussion will continue tomorrow with debates on housing shortages, income inequality and education; but even on only the second day of the competition, Helen says she has already learned a lot.
"Being part of Legco (at HKMUN helped me) to grasp the roots of Hong Kong's politics, and how proposals have to go through three readings in order to be considered by Beijing" she said.
Over at the Modern General Assembly (Sochum), delegates touched on labour migration, a topic that has become the talk of the city following the case involving domestic helper Erwiana Sulistyaningsih who was abused and tortured by her former employer.
Another real case of an abused domestic helper working in Hong Kong was brought up to help delegates get a better idea of the challenges faced by migrant workers.
Delegates representing nations which supply many migrant workers to Hong Kong proposed tighter regulations to protect rights of workers while abroad. Meanwhile, delegates of countries hosting migrant workers were concerned about rising unemployment rate amongst local people, and the extra burden on the welfare system such regulations may bring.
Despite their differences, the majority of the nations represented came to the agreement that more needs to be done to protect the rights and well-being of migrant workers. Suggestions to do so include providing migrant workers with basic recreational rights, such as one day of rest per week. Other proposals included allowing workers to take time off on public holidays, and allowing them to practise their religion freely.
For those in the Modern Security Council, they first had to finish their debate from yesterday on the fight against Isis.
"The debate didn't last very long as most parties were able to come to an agreement," said Sha Tin College's Henry Lui, a delegate in the Modern Security Council and winner of the Best Workshop Report at the 2014 Young Post Junior Reporter Awards.
He said that within the Council, the two resolutions proposed as to how the UN should respond to Isis were to use military force, a notion suggested by the UK, and to use humanitarian actions, which was put forward by Venezuela.
"In the second committee session, we began our discussion on the International Arms Trade," Henry said. "Unlike [yesterday's debate], the five permanent members - China, France, UK, US and Russia - were disunited and separated into two camps: the major arms supporters [China, US and Russia], who wanted more lenient resolutions, and France and the UK, who wanted tougher, more restrictive resolutions.
Nevertheless, today was not all heavy discussions, as the Modern Security Council took time to vote on whether #TheDress that broke the Internet is black and blue or white and gold!
Tomorrow is the last day of HKMUN. After the morning and afternoon sessions, there will be a banquet and award ceremony.