Sparks fly at debate
Debaters from Diocesan Girls' School and TWGHs Kap Yan Directors' College reached for the moon at yesterday's grand final debate. But only DGS walked away as the new champions of the 12th Nesta-SCMP Debating Competition.
Kap Yan, last year's winners, put up an admirable fight, but they lost their title during a rousing debate at Baptist University in Kowloon Tong.
For DGS, a year of hard work paid off when South China Morning Post special projects editor Cliff Buddle presented them with the championship trophy. About 400 people in the audience applauded as DGS speakers Adriana Lee, Siu Yau-king, and Nicole Liu Hui-kay accepted the award.
The schools debated on the motion that 'China's plan to put a person on the moon will benefit its people'. Kap Yan took the affirmative argument, and DGS argued against it.
Kap Yan's speakers said space programmes had pushed the limits on technology. China's quest to land on the moon dates back to the ancient days, and since then, our technological developments had been impressive, they said.
'Space technology has propelled people's lives to a new level,' said Form Six student Grace Chung Cheuk-yan. 'With advanced technologies such as satellites, lives have been saved. We have more accurate weather forecasts, and satellite technology has helped locate important natural resources.'
DGS, representing the negative argument, agreed with benefits brought by space technology, but they said those benefits were not directly related to 'putting a person on the moon'.
'Those benefits are achieved by machines, not by people. The opponent has neglected to address how a moon landing benefits people, a key part of the motion,' said Nicole, a Form Three student who was named best speaker of the debate.
That point turned out to be the defining argument of the debate.
'The affirmative side provided many benefits of space technology, but I found the negative argument about human benefit especially convincing,' said adjudicator Greg Forse, coach of Hong Kong's debate team.
The debate was also adjudicated by English teachers Calvin Foo, from SKH Lam Kau Mow Secondary School; Christine Xavier of Ying Wa Girls' School; Edmond Li from Ning Po College; and Leo Zen from Diocesan Boys' School.
DGS coach Azeem Ebrahim was delighted with the win. He said the debaters earned a well-deserved victory.
'The team worked really hard. They wanted to do well, which is all you need to be successful,' he said.
The Nesta-SCMP Debating Competition is organised by the Native English Speaking Teachers' Association and the Post.