SHOULD expatriates who have lived in Hong Kong for seven years get the right to vote? According to the winning Chinese debating team from the Diocesan Boys' School (DBS), they should. In the final of a competition organised by the Joint School Chinese Debating Society, defending champion DBS won three out of the five adjudicators' votes, putting an end to regular opponent La Salle College's dream of winning in the Chinese debating arena. Both teams received the motion at nine o'clock of the day of the final and with the debate set for 4 pm, they had only seven hours to prepare their arguments. The four DBS debaters centred their argument on the expatriates' past and future contribution to the community, saying this provided solid ground for allowing them to vote. The La Salle boys challenged that, saying staying in the territory for seven years did not guarantee that the expatriates were whole-heartedly devoted to serving the community, nor would it guarantee they would stay after 1997. One of the adjudicators, Lau Chi-man, said the final was up to tertiary-level standards and it was obvious both teams had put in their best efforts. St Paul's Convent School defeated St Clare's Girls' School for third place. Since last October, the Joint School Chinese Debating Society committee has organised more than 40 debates for its 26-member schools, and the final marked the 27th contest this year. In the last 10 years, La Salle College has won the championship twice and has been runner-up three times. DBS, which also defeated La Salle in the Inter-school Athletics Meet (Division One) earlier this year, has won the title once before. Even though DBS took the team honours, La Salle's Bosco Ng Ka-leung snatched the Best Debater title. His eloquence and sharp remarks brought enthusiastic response from the audience in the theatre at the Hong Kong Cultural Centre. As another adjudicator commented, the final was similar to a 'performance'. The committee of the debating society is arranging a debate between students from Hong Kong, Guangzhou and Macau.