A battle of wits
In the fifth round of the 12th Nesta-SCMP Debating Competition, Kowloon Sam Yuk Secondary School and Notre Dame College debated the motion 'Hong Kong isn't doing enough to ensure gender equality'.
Sam Yuk was the affirmative and Notre Dame took the negative stance.
The debate took place on Tuesday at Notre Dame College. The adjudicators were Jeff Bell, English teacher from HKFEW Wong Cho Bau Secondary School, and Peter Ball, English teacher from HKSYCIA Wong Tai Shan Memorial College.
The affirmative side kicked off the debate with a clear strategy, arguing that words and reality were different.
'The government may have signed different agreements and enacted laws to enhance gender equality, but in reality, men and women are not treated in the same way,' said Form Seven student Kelly Chui Kin-yi, who was the team's first speaker.
She went on to list statistics that showed women were not as well-represented in politics and public service as men. She also highlighted the gap in income between men and women.
The negative side countered by insisting that the government was doing all it could to ensure gender equality. But that took time, it added.
'Gender equality in Hong Kong is a work in progress,' said Victor Wong Ka-ho, a Form Seven student who was the negative side's first speaker. 'It does not happen overnight. The government has signed agreements and enacted laws to improve gender equality.'
Flora Tsoi Tsz-miu, also a From Seven student, was Sam Yuk's third speaker. She pointed out that laws alone could not ensure gender equality. People's prejudices also had to be overcome.
'Laws or treaties cannot change people's minds,' she said. 'Words are different from reality. An obvious example of gender inequality that cannot be resolved through administrative means is the village house scheme. Only males have the right to build houses in the New Territories. The government says it is not going to change this rule because it wants to protect the local culture.'
In the end, the adjudicators gave the edge to Sam Yuk.
'They started with the team line that words and reality are different and all three speakers related to that. Their team line was consistent throughout the debate,' Bell said.
Flora was named the debate's best speaker. 'She is a very strong speaker. I think the point she raised on New Territories villagers was great,' Ball said.
The speakers from the negative side were in turn praised for their good delivery. The adjudicators advised them, however, to try to make their points easier to follow.
'Try to keep things simple [in listing facts and figures],' Bell said. 'Don't say 19.3 per cent; simply go with about 20 per cent.'
The contest is organised by the Native English Speaking Teachers' Association and The South China Morning Post.