Better teamwork and research helped YWCA Hioe Tjo Yoeng College edge out Stewards Pooi Kei College in the fourth round of the 12th Nesta-SCMP Inter-school Debating Competition. The teams debated on the motion, "Fast food restaurants do more harm than good", with YWCA being the affirmative side and Pooi Kei taking the negative stance.
Paul Fraser, an English teacher from Christian Alliance Cheng Wing Gee College, was the adjudicator.
The debate took place on September 19. It was a tight tussle from the beginning, with both teams battling over the definition of fast food restaurants.
Kicking off the debate, YWCA defined fast food restaurants as global chains, but their rivals disagreed. Pooi Kei's first speaker, Form Six student Anna Ho Cheuk-yan, said fast food restaurants were places that prepared food quickly.
The negative side's plan was to separate fast food restaurants from global chains such as McDonald's and KFC, which had been widely criticised for their unhealthy menus and for creating huge amounts of rubbish from packaging materials.
But later in her speech, Anna said fast food restaurants like McDonald's contributed to society through charities such as the Ronald McDonald House. Fraser thought this contradicted her earlier definition of fast food restaurants.
The debate became more heated as both teams rebutted each other, point by point. The affirmative side blamed fast food places for providing fatty, salty food. Their opponents said such eateries offered dishes that were popular with the public. Consumers are responsible for their diet choices, the negative side said.
Pooi Kei said fast food eateries created jobs for people from low-income families. YWCA rejected the idea, saying the employees are being exploited and nobody wants to work in such outlets.
YWCA's second speaker, Form Five student Chloe Ng Hing-yu, also criticised food chains' ads and toy giveaways that brainwash children into thinking fast food is a good choice.
In the end, Fraser gave the edge to YWCA. "Speakers from the affirmative side spoke with emotion and were very organised with their speeches. I think the research ... was more valid and focused," he said.
Pooi Kei's third speaker, seventh former Angel Lam So-yan, won the best speaker award despite her team's loss. Fraser said: "I really liked her balanced strategy. She presented both sides of the debate."
The contest is organised by the Native English Speaking Teachers' Association and the South China Morning Post.