Kowloon Sam Yuk Secondary School was defeated by Po Leung Kuk Ho Yuk Ching (1984) College in the Division 2B semi-finals of the 15th Nesta-SCMP Debating Competition.
The two school teams debated the thorny issue - discussed in the Legislative Council - that "Hong Kong should impose a tax on mainland tourists".
Sam Yuk, which hosted the contest at its Tai Kok Tsui campus on April 14, backed the motion, while Ho Yuk Ching opposed it.
Form Four students Miki Wong Lai-wa, Tim Law Tim-lun and Chris So Fat-yung represented Sam Yuk, while Ho Yuk Ching comprised fifth former Chau Suwanan and Form Four teammates Vivien Lee Van-vai and Yuki Ng Yue-kiu.
The adjudicators were teachers Loretta Chan, of St Antonius Girls' College, Betty Bownath, of YWCA Hioe Tjo Yoeng College, and Jobi Yeung, of Kwun Tong Maryknoll College.
Sam Yuk argued that Hong Kong is being overwhelmed by tourists from the mainland. They said the city's public transport system, shopping malls and leisure venues are packed with mainlanders, who are harming Hong Kong's reputation as a tourist destination, and also the quality of life of local residents.
Imposing a tax on mainland visitors would discourage them from coming here, they said.
The opposing team questioned whether such a tax would be an effective way to reduce the number of mainland tourists.
They said there would be many practical difficulties in implementing such a tax. Also, it would discriminate against mainlanders, and increase tension between Hong Kong and China.
The adjudicators said Sam Yuk did not respond to some points raised by their opponents, including how such a tax would make Hong Kong a better tourist destination. So they awarded a narrow victory to Ho Yuk Ching's team.
Chan praised both teams for carrying out extensive research. "The teams gathered a lot of relevant information from newspapers and government websites to support their arguments," Chan said. "In terms of delivery, they both did a good job with their use of eye contact and the way they spoke.
"They looked directly at members of the audience, and did a great job of convincing them."
Bownath said both teams had mastered the skills of debating. She said: "They knew how to argue in a convincing manner. The first speaker of the affirmative side said Hong Kong people do not want more mainland tourists in the city because they don't want to live in a concrete jungle full of strangers. That was a powerful, persuasive device.
"The speakers from the negative side skilfully brought in the point about how the tax would help to intensify the conflicts between Hong Kong and the mainland. This was a clever use of words."
Tim-lun, of Sam Yuk, was named the best speaker. Chan said: "His delivery was excellent; he used pauses, posed rhetorical questions and demonstrated an impressive vocabulary to get his point across."
The contest is organised by the Native English Speaking Teachers' Association and the South China Morning Post.