We are the champions

From http://www.singtao.com/debate/index_e_oldnews023.html in《The Student Standard》22 May, 2008
Written by Wendy Wong

South Island School reclaims debating crown in exciting final, writes Wendy Wong
THE applause and cheers of than 1,500 students, teachers and parents were part of the reward as South Island School (SIS 南島中學) fulfilled its dream of recapturing the English debating crown it lost last year.

  South Island defeated Shau Kei Wan Government Secondary School (SGSS筲箕灣官立中學) in the Grand Final of the 23rd Sing Tao Inter-School Debating Competition on May 16. Victory was doubly sweet because the team’s first speaker Paul Lau (劉俊文) – at 13 the youngest participant in the tournament – was named the competition’s best debater.

  Sixty schools took part in the annual tournament which was spread over five months. South Island said it was very happy to have won again.

  ”We feel great as it’s a really good and tough competition to win,” said Prakash Sanker, the team captain.

  The debaters from Shau Kei Wan Government Secondary School were gracious losers and praised their opponents, saying they were very strong and had a very high English standard.

  ”They were really responsive and good at pointing out our weaknesses,” said Queenie Ng (吳君儀), SGSS team captain.

Inflation in the spotlight
THE motion in the debate between the two finalists was “The Hong Kong Government should assist the low-income group during a period of high and rising inflation”.

  Shau Kei Wan Government Secondary School supported the motion by quoting figures such as the rise in the Consumer Price Index to highlight the plight of the poor, adding if the problem continued, harmony in society would be disrupted.

  They argued it was the government’s responsibility to help the deprived. Hence, assistance to the low income group was especially needed at a time of high inflation.

  In rebuttal, South Island said one of the flaws of the motion was that not all people who belonged to the low-income group needed help as some of them might have fixed assets.

  They added that Hong Kong already has measures to help poor people. They argued that inflation could be a “temporary” and “volatile” problem, hence not a good indicator of people’s needs. Therefore, any additional assistance during the period, which would cause fundamental change to the city’s welfare system, could not be justified.

  The team suggested alternative ways to help alleviate the problem, such as providing retraining to low-skilled workers, saying such “proactive” measures would be more effective than offering assistance when inflation is high.

Praise for speakers
GUEST of Honour Michael Suen Ming-yeung (孫明揚), the secretary for education, praised the students’ outstanding performance and their hard work in preparing for the competition.

  ”I was impressed to see you all being able to really ‘debate’, instead of just reading from a prepared speech. Despite the complicated motion, which was related to economics and the livelihood of millions of people in Hong Kong, all of you managed to quote a variety of evidence and explore different aspects of the problem. It shows that you have a deep understanding of and care about the issue,” said Mr Suen.

  Public affairs commentator Robert Chow (周融) represented the panel of judges in analysing the debate.

  ”Both teams did their research very well and were able to produce a lot of figures and data to support their arguments.

  ”The opposition has done a very good job in dissecting the motion, picking the weak points and arguing on them. After this competition, I realise Hong Kong students’ English standard is not as low as some people claim it to be,” Mr Chow said.

  The other judges were Bruce Bolin, deputy project director (English Language Support) from the Education Bureau; Agnes Cheng, communications manager of the Studer Trust; Claudia Mo, media freelancer; and Ivan Tong, Editor-in-Chief of The Standard.

Friends for life
SOUTH Island school was awarded a $12,000 scholarship from Centaline Property Agency, one of the competition’s sponsors, while Shau Kei Wan Government Secondary School received $8,000. Wah Yan College Kowloon (九龍華仁書院) and German Swiss International School (德瑞國際學校), the second runners-up, were awarded $4,000 each.

  The champions said the friendships they formed were among their greatest achievements over the competition.

  Prakash said: “We are really good friends. In every debate, we had to talk to each other. We had to know each other as a team, so I think the teamwork and unity are the greatest thing we achieved in the competition.”

  Paul attributed his best debater award to the support of his teammates.

  ”I wouldn’t have achieved it without the help of Prakash and Nikki (the team’s second speaker),” he said.

  Paul said the competition was a “once-in-a-lifetime” experience and he encouraged other students to participate.

  The competition was organised by Sing Tao Daily (《星島日報》), The Standard and The Education Bureau, and sponsored by the Language Fund (語文基金) and Centaline Property Agency (中原地產).