Tag Archives: SCMP

HKSDPSC does battle at The Foreign Correspondents’ Club


The high-achieving student team representing the Hong Kong Schools Debating and Public Speaking Community (HKDPSC) emerged the winners of a excellent and tough public debate against The Foreign Correspondents’ Club’s (FCC) team. The HKDPSC team comprised of Natalie So, James Lo and Benjamin Allen. Representing the FCC were SCMP business editor Nick Edwards, Bloomberg reporter Rachel Evans and barrister Kevin Egan. The two teams faced-off on the motion that ‘This house believes that the growth of social media is the single biggest challenge facing journalism today’ with the HKDPSC team affirming the motion and the FCC team in opposition. Before the debate, the audience voted 40% in favour, 39% against and 21% undecided. After a spirited debate from both sides, the audience voted 54% in favour and 43% against, giving the HKSDPSC team the win.

Below is an excerpt of the debate courtesy of the FCC and a report of the event by the SCMP Young Post.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hRbF7cIiPBo

Bright future for debaters


From Young Post, South China Morning Post on 14th September 2010.

For the past 25 years, Hong Kong teams have performed well at international debating competitions, including the World Schools Debating Championships (WSDC) and the World Individual Debating and Public Speaking Championships (WIDPSC).

In 2007, Chris Sykes of Li Po Chun United World COllege set a national record by ranking sixth at WSDC, while the local team broke several Hong Kong records at this year’s WIDPSC.

Despite Hong Kong’s success, there has been no co-ordinated effort to organize territory-wide debating or public speaking contests in line wtih world school events. This is why Hong Kong could not send a team to the World Championships in Washington DC in 2008.

However, things finally came together in April this year. Michael Evershed of South Island School – manager of the WSDC team – set up the Hong Kong Schools Debating Council (HKSDC) with the support of both coaches and students across the city.
The council plans to organize two senior and two junior debating championships as well as a public speaking competition annually. It will also have the authority ot select both national debating and public speaking teams.
For the first time, HKSDC is organising debates under the world school system which involves two teams of three competing against each other.

The Heart of Europe Debating Tournament, a premier international event, provided the first chance for HKSDC to flex its new-found muscles. The council sent two teams to the Czech Republic after the debaters underwent intensive training supervised by official coaches Greg Forse and Roy Allen. The teams were accompanied by Raphael Leung, a trainee adjudicator from La Salle College.
Both teams performed extremely well – Team 1 made it to the finals, only to be beaten by South Africa, while Team 2 were knocked out in the quarter-finals. This was the best result for a Hong Kong team at an international tournament. On top of that, all eligible speakers ranked in the top 20.

HKSDC has been busy promoting debating in the city. It organised the Junior Debating Championships at Discovery Bay College in May. A total of 22 schools took aprt in the event with South Island School winning the title.

Twenty-eight schools will be participating in the first ever Senior Debating Championships, which will be held on September 25 at South Island School. It is bound to generate tremendous interest since the selections for the national debating team will be partly based on the performance of speakers at the competition.

HKSDC membership is open to students, coaches, teachers and associates from every school. They are welcome to learn more about the council, upcoming international and domestic tournaments, and the selction process for the national teams as well as register as a member at the council’s website, hksdc.wordpress.com.

Under the guidance of the HKSDC, Hong Kong’s debater’s have a bright future.

Heather Pickerell is a student at German Swiss International School

HK debate team gets workout


From Young Post, South China Morning Post on 23rd April 2010.

The Hong Kong debating team (from left) Benjamin Allen, Annette Chau, team coach Greg Forse, Prakash Sanker, Heather Pickerell, Paul Lau and teacher Michael Evershed.

While people in Hong Kong were celebrating the Lunar New Year, the Hong Kong debating team was proudly carrying the Bauhinia across the globe to Doha, Qatar, for the 22nd World Schools Debating Championship 2010.
Although the team lost in the Octofinals, it was a rewarding experience. After two gruelling rounds of selection in Hong Kong, six team members were eventually chosen – five to compete and one reserve. Captain Benjamin Allen (La Salle College), Annette Chau (Sha Tin College), Prakash Sanker (South Island School), Heather Pickerell (German Swiss International School) and Paul Lau (South Island School) were joined by reserve Arthur Chan (Li Po Chun United World College) after the final trial on October 4 last year.

The team coach was Greg Forse – a long-time professional who gave his time up to train the team. He was the coach in the Washington debate in 2008 and a debater in the Calgary debate in 2005. His guidance and support were crucial to the team. Managing and organising the team was Michael Evershed, a veteran English teacher from South Island School and a former debater, who also helped in training the team.

The championship is a well-respected event, and brings together teams from all over the world to debate on a variety of topics, ranging from motions focused on current affairs to those speculating the theoretical. The five-member teams have one hour to prepare and three are chosen to debate. Each speech lasts eight minutes, with a reply speech of four minutes. Points of information, which allow the opposing team to interrupt a speaker, are also allowed.

Hong Kong has an excellent track record of always ‘breaking’ – moving to the knockout stages after the eight preliminaries – as well as being ranked among the top 16 teams in the world. However, the team was hard pressed to keep that record with 57 countries competing and surprisingly strong teams from countries such as India and Sri Lanka. Hong Kong did manage to break in 16th position, narrowly beating South Korea. In the end it was Hong Kong’s 6,075.5 points against Korea’s 6,072. The team took part in 13 debates – nine official and four informal spar debates with other countries, including Israel, Indonesia and Korea.

Of the eight preliminaries, Hong Kong had four prepared debates against Chile, Germany, Bulgaria and Mongolia, while our impromptu motions were against Wales, Bermuda, Singapore and Slovenia. With solid performances, especially in the first debate against Chile where Hong Kong was, by points, the best team in the world on that motion, we gained a perfect score of four unanimous wins for the four prepared debates. But in the impromptu rounds, we faced some serious opposition from Singapore, Slovenia and Wales, which we all lost by close margins.

We faced Australia in the Octofinals, where we were knocked out. But in their last performances on the world stage in high school debating, Annette and Prakash gave speakers ranked No. 1, 2 and 4 in the world a hard time. The debate was called ‘An unconvincing win for Australia’ by a Qatari newspaper.

In an epic final battle between Canada and England, Canada emerged as the world champions this year, winning 8-3 on the motion ‘We should never bail out big companies’. After not sending a team last year, encouraged by this year’s results and looking forward to next year’s event in Scotland, team Hong Kong is already gearing up.

Debate HK, an organisation headed by Forse, has been getting more support.

HK team set to take on the world


From Young Post, South China Morning Post on 5th March 2010

(Clockwise from left) Geoffrey Liew, Sachin Srivastava, Mary Garland, Heather Pickerell, Tiffany Chung, Bnejamin So and Griffith Cheng

Next month, a team of local students will be jetting off to the debating equivalent of football’s World Cup. This year’s World Individual Debating and Public Speaking Championships will be held in Lithuania, with the six members of Hong Kong’s team selected at last month’s Hong Kong Public Speaking Championships. Students from all over the city gathered at South Island School to compete in the championships’ four sections. These were designed to test the students’ grasp of English, and their confidence in using the language in front of the judges and audience.

The six team members chosen, in ranking order, were: Benjamin So (Queen’s College), Heather Pickerell (German Swiss International School), Griffith Cheng (La Salle College), Tiffany Chung (South Island School), Geoffrey Liew (Sha Tin College) and Sachin Srivastava (German Swiss International School). The competition follows the rules of the World Championships, and the first round was persuasive speaking. Competitors had to deliver a speech nine to 13 minutes in length, using only one cue card for reference.

A wide variety of topics were chosen, with Benjamin delivering an impassioned speech on the tragedy of child soldiers. Tiffany tackled another shocking issue, human trafficking, pulling heartstrings with her emotive language and powerful delivery.

In the interpretive reading round, the competitors had to choose a passage of literary merit, and deliver it along with their own introduction. The total time allowed was between seven and 11 minutes.

Among many of the beautiful passages selected, an interesting coincidence occurred when both champion, Benjamin, and runner-up, Heather, chose passages from Charles Dickens. Benjamin’s piece was from A Tale of Two Cities and Heather’s from A Christmas Carol. Geoffrey chose something much more philosophical, reading the famous “Trial of Hank Rearden” from Atlas Shrugged, by Ayn Rand.

After a quick lunch break, most of the speakers were back on familiar territory in the tough debating round. Heather was a member of the Hong Kong Debating Team, which competed in the World Championships in Qatar during the Lunar New Year holiday. Griffith had been part of La Salle College’s victorious team in both the Sing Tao, and the Lions Club & Yodac, Inter-school debating competitions last year. Sachin has previously won the Standard Chartered Public Speaking Competition.

Ben is a student at La Salle College