Point-by-point rebuttals bear fruit

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 22 September, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 22 September, 2011, 12:00am


St Antonius Girls' College scored a convincing victory as student debaters returned to action after the summer holidays. St Antonius beat PLK Wu Chung College in the fourth round of the 12th Nesta-SCMP Inter-school Debating Competition held on September 14.

The two teams debated on the motion 'Fast food restaurants do more harm than good', with Wu Chung being the affirmative side and St Antonius taking the negative stance.

The debate was adjudicated by three English teachers - Ian Sanderson from TWGHs Kap Yan Directors' College, Bill Henderson from St Francis of Assisi College and Roola Andreadakis from HKTA Tang Hin Memorial Secondary School.

Wu Chung began with the team line, 'fast food is bad for people and the environment'. They said fast food caused health problems among consumers and harmed the environment.

The team's first speaker, Form Four student Jan Tse Pui-yan, said: 'Fast food creates a huge amount of rubbish. The polystyrene used in the packaging cannot be recycled, taking up much space in landfills, while many trees are cut down to make paper wrappings for fast food.'

Second speaker Taylor Ng Ho-ying, also a fourth former, cited examples of how fast food can lead to high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease and many other illnesses.

Despite the solid evidence provided by Wu Chung, their opponents were unimpressed. Point by point, the girls from St Antonius rebutted the arguments put forward by the affirmative side.

St Antonius' first speaker, Form Four student Cynthia Lui Hoi-yin, said fast food restaurants mostly use recyclable paper for packaging.

She also pointed out that some fast food chains are willing to invest in projects which generate energy from waste.

Second speaker Jill Lam Hoi-yi raised an interesting point. She said it is not fair to blame consumers' health problems on fast food. 'Health problems are not solely related to eating fast food. Rather, it has to do with people's choice of diet. You can go to any restaurant and order unhealthy food. There are healthy food choices at fast food restaurants; only consumers can decide what they eat.'

Sanderson gave the edge to St Antonius because they spoke clearly and at a good pace.

'First speaker of the negative side started with a clear allocation of what each speaker is going to talk about. She also made good gestures and was able to present facts and figures clearly to support her case. Overall, the speakers from the negative side presented their case more clearly,' he said.

Sanderson reminded speakers about the importance of knowing when to pause.

He said: 'When you pause, it is time for your message to sink into the listener's mind. Also, speakers should keep eye contact with the audience instead of their opponents. Your opponent will not change their mind; it's the audience that you are trying to convince.'

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