'Tax rich' stance triumphs

By Wong Yat-hei

The widening wealth gap in Hong Kong sparked a spirited battle between two school debating teams.

By Wong Yat-hei |

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Ashling Chan of Ying Wa Girls' School, who was named best speaker

Hong Kong's widening wealth gap, which has made headlines in recent months, was the inspiration for the latest battle in the Nesta-SCMP debating competition.

Ying Wa Girls' School beat PLK Ngan Po Ling College in round three, arguing over the motion: "The rich in Hong Kong should pay higher taxes to help the poor."

The winning team of Form Four students from Ying Wa - Kelly Lau Tsz-ching, Ashling Chan and Ann Cheung Chun-lam - agreed with the motion; Ngan Po Ling College's Form Three team of Iris Chau See-wai, Bobo Cheng Wai and Eunice Lam ka-wai opposed it.

Judging the debate were teachers Jenny Lo, of Sha Tin Government Secondary School, and Kitty Pang, of SKH Lam Woo Memorial Secondary School.

The affirmative side made use of real-life cases of families living in sub-divided units to illustrate their argument. Kelly, the first speaker from the affirmative side, said that more than a million people live under the poverty line in Hong Kong.

The city's upper class should have a sense of social responsibility to help people in need, she said.

The negative side rebutted this view, suggesting it was unfair for the rich to have to take care of the poor.

The first speaker from the negative side, Iris, argued that the rich did lots of charity work to help the needy already. They should not be left with the additional burden of having to support the poor.

She also suggested higher taxes for the rich would drive away investment and harm the economic development of the city.

The adjudicators decided to award victory to the affirmative team because of their stronger presentation and more convincing evidence.

Pang praised the Ying Wa debaters for using real-life cases to back their stance.

"The debaters from Ying Wa made good use of examples from the newspaper to demonstrate the problems faced by the poor," she said. "I found this evidence very convincing."

Members of Ying Wa's team were also judged to have better presentation skills than their opponents.

"Debaters from the negative side read too much from their note cards," Pang said. "The third speaker was not sure about what she was going to say towards the end and she spoke very softly.

"Debaters need to believe in what they have to say and deliver their words with confidence."

Lo advised all debating teams to improve their delivery skills. "More eye contact and less reading from note cards are improvements that I hope to see from debaters," she said.

Ashling, the second speaker for the affirmative side, was named the best speaker.

In another round-three contest, Sha Tin Government Secondary School beat SKH Lam Woo Memorial College after debating the same motion.

Both debates were held on January 28 at Ying Wa Girls' School in Sham Shui Po.

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