Stewards Pooi kei College
Stewards Pooi Kei College (SPKC), the runner-up in the previous Nesta-SCMP Inter-School Debating Competition, took a step closer to returning to the finals after beating Heep Yunn School in the fifth round.
The debate was held last Thursday at SPKC. The two school teams locked horns over the motion: "Having street demonstrations does more good than harm for Hong Kong's progress."
Both teams presented clear arguments. SPKC, the affirmative side, proposed that demonstrations were an effective way to bring attention to important issues and educate people about them. Heep Yunn countered that demonstrations were selfish acts that ignored the larger good in society.
The teams had a heated argument over the definition of "progress".
SPKC's first speaker, Anna Ho Cheuk-yan, a Form Six student, focused on how street demonstrations allow democracy in Hong Kong to flourish.
The negative side argued that progress meant not only in politics but social and economic development as well. They said street demonstrations led to polarisation in society and one-sided views.
The second speaker of the affirmative side, Jessica Tam, responded by stressing that street demonstrations were often related to social and environmental issues, not just political ones.
"In Hong Kong there are both pro-government and anti-government marches so it is not one-sided. The marches make the government aware of people's power and keep it honest to provide a better society," she said.
SPKC's third speaker, Benedict Kung Ho-yan, wrapped up the debate by emphasising the importance of street demonstrations in a healthy society. "Society needs better solutions and street demonstrations are a step towards that goal," he said. "Demonstrations in Hong Kong are creative, peaceful and effective."
The debate's two adjudicators - Perry Bayer, a native English teacher from CCC Ming Kei College and Barbara Robson of St Antonius Girls' College - both agreed the affirmative team provided the stronger arguments and presented a clearer strategy. Bayer praised both teams for using current affairs to support their arguments.
"The affirmative side raised the example of recent Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo as an example of people gaining respect through demonstrations," he said. "The negative team made good use of the Tseung Kwan O landfills case to show the selfishness of people. Both sides had great evidence."
Robson praised the third speaker of both teams for effectively summing up their team's arguments. The third speaker of the negative side, Francine Fu Lai-nam, a Form Four student at Heep Yunn, was named best speaker.
The contest, jointly organised by the Native English Speaking Teachers' Association and the South China Morning Post, is sponsored by the Hong Kong Jockey Club.