Youth urged to speak out on Article 23

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 08 July, 2003, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 08 July, 2003, 12:00am

Young people have been urged to grasp the chance to understand and show where they stand on the national security legislation, as Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa announced the deferral of the second reading of the controversial Article 23 yesterday.

'The deferral is good news since there will be more time for teenagers to have a deeper understanding of the bill before legislation,' Stephen Siu Chun-pang, researcher of the Social Research Unit of the Hong Kong New Generation Cultural Association said.

'Teenagers should take the initiative to know more about it,' he added.

The unit interviewed more than 400 young working adults, secondary and tertiary students over the past week, with nearly 70 per cent of them admitting that they had not read Article 23 of the Basic Law, while 61 per cent said they did not understand its details.

Although more than half of the respondents thought there was inadequate consultation on the anti-subversion law, 71 per cent said that they had never expressed their views about the bill publicly.

The study also revealed that 65 per cent of the interviewees believed Hong Kong had the responsibility to ensure national security through legislation.

The research unit said the survey reflected that Hong Kong youths lacked social responsibility and were not willing to carry out their civic duties.

'Even though most young people believe Hong Kong should enact laws to give effect to Article 23, many of them do not know what it's about,' Mr Siu said. 'As Hong Kong citizens, teenagers have the obligation to understand the security laws.'

He said the government should help cultivate teenage awareness of public issues. Following the resignation of Liberal Party chief James Tien Pei-chun from the Executive Council, the government deferred the second reading of Article 23, which sparked a mass protest on July 1 attended by more than 500,000 people. The government also said it would step up efforts to explain the contents of the national security legislation to the public.