In the third round of the 12th Nesta-SCMP Debating Competition, SKH Tang Shiu Kin Secondary School went up against Delia School of Canada, Taikoo Shing, to debate the motion "public, performing-animal shows are beneficial".
The debate took place last Tuesday at SKH Tang Shiu Kin Secondary School. Delia were against the motion while Tang Shiu Kin were in favour of it.
Adjudicator Stephen Farmer, an English teacher from Pui Tak Canossian College, said both teams had strengths and weaknesses but gave the edge to Delia. "The affirmative side, Tang Shiu Kin, had a clear team line and good definition of the motion," he said. "The negative team, Delia School of Canada, was stronger with delivery and rebuttals. At the end of the day, a debate comes down to which side is more convincing, and I think the negative was able to persuade me more, especially the speech by their third speaker, Rama Kulkarni."
Farmer liked Tang Shiu Kin's definition of key terms and clear breakdown of what each speaker was going to talk about. However, they read too much from note cards and lacked eye contact with the audience, he said.
Delivery was not a problem for Delia. Farmer praised them for their eye contact and gestures. But he thought they could have done better research. "The first negative speaker, Akash Dhar, mentioned animals being beaten if they did not perform. He could have backed up his case better with more examples," he added. "The second speaker, Arjun Prakash, brought up a report about animals being abused. It is more convincing to provide more details on [such a] report."
Farmer also reminded debaters from Delia to be more careful with time management, as two of them used less than the two minutes, 30 seconds allowed.
In the debate, both teams argued fiercely over what rights humans had over other species.
Tang Shiu Kin said the reality was that humans were superior to other species. The school's third speaker, Alf Chan, a Form Four student, said: "If we are not allowed to kill any animals, we will have no meat to eat. In the wild, a lion kills a zebra and eats it: this is how nature works. Humans let animals entertain instead of killing them. It is beneficial to both animals and humans."
Delia's Kulkarni disagreed, saying the nature of humans and lions asserting superiority over other animals was not the same. "A lion kills a zebra for survival, but humans force animals to perform for fun," she said.
The annual contest is organised by the Native English Speaking Teachers' Association and the South China Morning Post.