Between tiger parents and debates – Leonhard Weese on the Hong Kong Debate Open

Datum: Nov 9th, 2011
By
Category: Themen, Turniere

Leonhard Weese of Debattierklub Wien is now doing his master studies in Hong Kong. Inbetween studies he finds time to take part in debating tournaments, for instance in Beijing. This time, he made it to the Hong Kong Open which was staged in Hong Kong for the second time. Read here his exklusive report from China.

Being known for their academic achievements as much as their students’ performances in the natural sciences for years, Hong Kong schools look for other fields to distinguish their students. And tiger parents are too. Fully loaded with (almost) untaxed income from the plenty of booming markets in the economical most free state in the world, these parents know that in today’s world knowledge and understanding as well as communication skills allow people to excel in their fields.

Hongkong, Sonderverwaltungszone, Metropole - und unser Chinakorrespondent Leonhard Weese mittendrin! (Foto: Leonhard Weese)

Our correspondent Leonhard Weese reports from the Hong Konmg Open. (Foto: Jared Fries)

Because of this, one of the flourishing markets in Hong Kong is that of debate education. Private schools, like the Li Po Chun United World College fund debate because it extends the skills of the students, but also, as the college’s exit statement reads, because it helps them “go forth into the world as responsible and compassionate young men and women, committed to putting into practice the ideals of peace, internationalism, justice and excellence in all things.” The school was founded after World War II by Kurt Hahn who served as the head of the “Schule Schloss Salem” in Baden, Germany, until he was forced to leave the school in 1933 when asking the academic and student body “to choose between Salem and Hitler”.

Parents whose kids do not already debate in school often send them to private educational companies, where recent Ivy League college graduates teach debate, critical thinking and analytical writing. Students as young as eight attend these pricy classes, so that at the age of 16 they can represent their country at World Schools. And unlike in Europe, schools debating is tightly linked to that of University debating. School students naturally debate along and against their competitors from university, and they do break. But in Hong Kong, where competition is as fierce as space is scarce, few take upon themselves the burden to establish debate competitions.

Loke Wing Fatt, to many known as the trainer of the Chinese BP debating team decided to close this gap last year when he initiated the first Hong Kong Debate Open. The idea is to have a large debating competition that is organized in turns by the large Universities in the city of 7 million. After the Polytechnic University organized the event last year, the Chinese University took upon them the stress this year to organize Hong Kong’s only large debating competition open to university students. It attracted 64 teams from countries as far as Indonesia, Thailand and Japan to sunny and warm Hong Kong.

For 80 US-Dollars (about 60 Euros) food and six rounds à seven minutes were offered at the beautiful countryside campus, judged by an excellent judging pool around chief adjudicator (CA) Sharmila Parmanand (co-chief adjudicator of Berlin Worlds 2013), Co-CA Loke Wing Fatt, and the deputy chief adjudicators Thepparith Senamngern (aka TJ), Zheng Bo, Nicole Ng and Doriane Lau, joined by Suthen Thomas (aka Tate).

Also implemented at Hong Kong Debate Open were pre-quarter finals. That is, while the top 12 teams break directly to the quarter finals, the following 8 teams break to pre-quarters, from which the winning 4 teams then join the top 12 in the quarter finals. This tries to take into account the large trade that exists between a too small and too large break. Three teams from the University of Hong Kong not only broke 1st, 2nd and 3rd, but all made it to the finals together with a team from Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok under the name “Hogwards A”. The debate was won by Amanda Slocum and Kevin Lau from Hong Kong University.

The motions:

  • Round 1: This house would ban the participation of children in clinical drug trials.
  • Round 2: This house would abolish the minimum wage. (Hong Kong just introduced a mininum wage of 28 HK-Dollars, or 2.60 Euros per hour.)
  • Round 3: This house would ban religious organizations from establishing schools.
  • Round 4: This house supports the Occupy Wall Street Movement.
  • Round 5: This house would ban all approaches that seek to cure homosexuality.
  • Round 6: This house believes that the U.S. should not veto the Palestinian bid for statehood at the United Nations.
  • pre-Quarters: This house supports the use of drones.
  • Quarters: TH would hold companies liable in their home countries for environmental damage caused overseas.
  • Semis: This house would ban agencies that broker international marriages.
  • Finals: This house regrets the policy of assassinating terrorist leaders instead of trying them.

Leonhard Weese / apf

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