In a second-round encounter in the 12th Nesta-SCMP Debating Competition, St Mark's School defeated St Stephen's College, thanks to their better presentation skills. St Mark's took the negative side on the motion: "Hong Kong is taking care of mainland immigrants arriving here since 2006."
The debate, which took place on April 21 at St Mark's School, was adjudicated by David Walker, an English teacher from Hoi Ping Chamber of Commerce Secondary School.
Walker decided to give the edge to St Mark's because of their stronger rebuttals and the fact their speakers were more persuasive. "Speakers from the negative side demonstrated their knowledge of the topic with some useful statistics, such as the 75 per cent unemployment rate for new immigrants, and they spoke confidently at a good pace and with eye contact with the audience," he said.
St Stephen's also lost points due to poor time management. Second speaker Wilson Chan Kai-shun, a Form Four student, only spoke for two minutes and six seconds. "I thought Wilson could have done more to attack the points [put forward] by the negative side," Walker said.
The affirmative side opened by pointing out how government policies and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) helped new immigrants settle in.
They said new immigrants enjoyed benefits similar to local permanent residents, such as medical care and social security. NGOs also conducted training sessions to help them adapt to life in Hong Kong and look for work, they stressed.
St Mark's fought back, saying that new immigrants faced discrimination with lower pay and a higher unemployment rate among the new arrivals. The media called them parasites, the negative side said. They also questioned if "taking care of" simply meant giving cash and benefits to new immigrants.
The school's third speaker, Form Six student Kelvin Leung Kwok-ting, said: "New immigrants need acceptance by society, protection and equal opportunity. Not including new immigrants in the racial discrimination law was a huge mistake. They face discrimination from employers and society, but there is no law to protect them."
The best speaker award went to Jason Lam Man-tsun, a Form Six from St Mark's. "Jason spoke convincingly with good eye contact," Walker said. "He went straight to rebutting how government policies are not able to take care of new immigrants. His comment on the policy of helping new immigrants as being 'giving them fish, but not teaching them how to fish' was very interesting."
The contest is organised by the Native English Speaking Teachers' Association and the South China Morning Post.