Debates heat up for semi-finals

Wong Yat-hei

Pui Tal Canossian and Kap Yan Director's College both score hard-won victories to progress in this year's Nesta-SCMP debating series

Wong Yat-hei |

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TWGHS Kap Yan Directors' College student Ben So Hoi-kin makes a point in round six of the 11th Nesta-SCMP debating competition (top) over the merits of genetically modified products

Stewards Pooi Kei College's hoped-for return to the final of the Nesta-SCMP Inter-school Debating Competition was cut short after they fell to Pui Tak Canossian College in the sixth round.

The debate was held last Wednesday at Pui Tak Canossian College. It was adjudicated by Karen Margetts, a native English teacher from Aberdeen Baptist Lui Ming Choi College, and Sarah Milner from West Island School.

Pooi Kei held the negative and Pui Tak were the affirmative side in the debate over a motion about the advantages and drawbacks of genetically modified products.

Pui Tak built their argument on the benefits of genetically modified products, such as increased food production and better medical treatments.

The negative side responded by pointing out the dangers of such products and the threat that patent-holding conglomerates could monopolise their production.

Margetts praised both teams for the depth of their knowledge of the subject's pros and cons. She gave the edge to the affirmative side. "The second speaker of the affirmative, Josephine Mak Tsz-yan, provided a strong rebuttal. The negative side failed to respond in depth to the affirmative's arguments," she said.

Margetts reminded the third speaker of both teams of the importance of summing up their team's overall case. She warned them against getting caught up in too many rebuttals.

In another sixth-round debate, TWGHs Kap Yan Directors' College, which held the affirmative view, defeated St Antonius Girls' College to reach the semi-finals.

The debate was held last Friday at Kwok Tak Seng Catholic Secondary School. Tom Derbyshire, a native English teacher from Stewards Pooi Kei College, and Margetts adjudicated.

Margetts said the affirmative's better handling of rebuttals earned them the victory.

"The negative argued that genetically modified products could help create a monopoly, and the affirmative responded by saying that monopolies can be broken up via legislation. That was a good point," she said. "I felt the negative had some strong arguments, but they were a little rushed with their speech and the adjudicators could not catch some of their points."

Derbyshire praised both teams for their teamwork. He advised debaters not to be afraid to repeat their main points and the team line in the debate so as to convey their message to the audience.

For details on the Nesta-SCMP Debating Competition, visit

More than 130 teams have already entered the 12th Nesta-SCMP Debating Competition, which will start in late January. If you would like to join, contact competition co-ordinator Stan Dyer at [email protected]