Strong team line wins

Strong team line wins

St Stephen's Church College claims first-round debate in Nesta-SCMP contest


Connie Cheung Yik-sau of St Stephen's disagrees with the land reclamation motion
Connie Cheung Yik-sau of St Stephen's disagrees with the land reclamation motion
Photos: Nora Tam/SCMP
Pui Tak Canossian College

The Nesta-SCMP debating competition entered its 15th year on Tuesday, with St Stephen's Church College defeating Pui Tak Canossian College in a first-round debate in Division 2B.

The motion argued was: "Land reclamation is the best solution to the problem of Hong Kong's lack of space."

The team from St Stephen's, which hosted the debate, consisted of Form Three students Connie Cheung Yik-sau, John Felix and Howard Leung Ho-yin, who opposed the motion. The Pui Tak team of Form Five students Sharon Ho Yuet-yee, Bonnie Lam and Bethany Tsang Yan-yee argued the affirmative side.

James Wilson from Carmel School's Elsa High School was the adjudicator.

The lack of useable space has always been a concern for Hong Kong, a city with limited land supply but an ever-growing population. Pui Tak pointed out that Hong Kong has a long history of reclaiming land to address the land shortage problem.

Infrastructure that is vital to the economic development of the city, such the airport and Disneyland, are built on reclaimed land. The affirmative side also said new towns that provide housing for many Hong Kong people are built on reclaimed land. They concluded that although land reclamation harms the environment, the economic benefits that it brings outweighs that damage.

St Stephen's rebutted that there is no shortage of land in Hong Kong, given the abundance of usable land in the outlying islands and the New Territories. They said the government's high land price policy, which limits the area of land that is allowed to be developed, is to blame for the lack of useable space.

Bethany Tsang Yan-yee (holding cards) argues the affirmative side for Pui Tak Canossian College

John, St Stephen's second speaker, lives on an outlying island, and said there is plenty of space in which to build housing on the islands. He suggested a better solution would be to develop a strategy to persuade people to move to the islands by, for example, building bridges connecting them to the city, rather than reclaiming land.

In giving the edge to St Stephen's, Wilson said the negative side had a stronger team line.

"I think the affirmative side put themselves in a difficult position at the beginning of the debate with their team line. They mentioned that land reclamation is the best solution without explaining further. They raised the point that the economic benefits brought by land reclamation outweigh the damage done to the environment. I think that is a strong point that could have been their team line," he said.

One other piece of advice Wilson gave to all the debaters was to have more interaction with the audience. "Some speakers rely on their note cards too much, as if they are reading to the audience. A good speaker needs to be confident about what they say in order to convince the audience. It is also important to maintain eye contact with the audience during the debate," he said.

Hand gestures are another area that Wilson said he hoped the debaters will work on. "Some of you are holding your note cards with two hands and move them up and down as you speak. Try to hold the cards in one hand and make gestures with the other. Good hand gestures make a confident speaker," he said.

The contest is organised by the Native English Speaking Teachers' Association and South China Morning Post.

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