Voice your concerns
The New Youth Forum, set up in 2000 by a group of young people concerned about current affairs and politics, is becoming more and more popular. An increasing number of students are taking part in activities organised by the group.
Today, the New Youth Forum organises talks, seminars, video competitions and overseas tours to help young people gain a better understanding of what's happening around the world.
Lingnan University student Phoebe Wong Chui-lan joined the forum four years ago after it was recommended by her secondary school teachers.
Ms Wong, 22, attended several talks and visited the United States during the country's 2004 presidential election campaign.
She said the US trip was an eye-opening experience. 'During my discussions with university students there, I was impressed by their keen interest in Hong Kong and the handover and their knowledge of the topic. Their opinions made me do some thinking.
'They were not only concerned about what's happening around them [such as the US presidential election], they wanted to learn more about issues that were affecting people in other parts of the world.
'After a thorough discussion, they would take action, such as stage a protest or organise a petition campaign.'
Ms Wong explained that this was the main difference between local and overseas students. 'Teenagers in Hong Kong either discuss but don't take action, or act before having a thorough discussion,' she said.
Another forum member, Celeste Lo Tin-yan, 20, agreed.
'Local teenagers usually take sides before any discussion,' said the University of Hong Kong student. 'They can be easily influenced by others because they do not understand or analyse the issue thoroughly.'
Forum members can express their opinions freely, although some may have different political views or belong to different parties. 'We get together because we have the same interests,' said the forum's project officer, Ivy Chan.
'We all understand discussion is the key point. Therefore, we are very close friends even though some of us join different political parties.
'Some of our members were elected as district councillors last year. We believe that people with different political views aren't necessarily opponents. They can express their opinions and discuss things peacefully.'
Ms Chan said they hope to introduce this culture to aspiring politicians in Hong Kong.
'The political atmosphere in Hong Kong has changed in recent years,' she said. 'From past video competitions, we found that teenagers have their own views on politics.'
Shopping and karaoke may be young people's favourite pastimes, but they do care about politics, according to Ms Chan.
'We found that they are interested in political issues, for example, the district council elections,' she said.
'Although they may not be able to support their opinions with theories, their views should not be neglected.'
The seventh Youth Political Training Programme, organised by the forum, comprises a series of talks and overseas trips. Participants will be going on a five-day trip to Taiwan during the island's presidential election in March.
Ben Cheung Pui-yin, 20, who joined the forum two years ago, became more interested in politics after visiting Taiwan in 2006.
'Getting first-hand experience of the election [in Taiwan] inspired me,' said the student from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. 'I now have a better understanding of the issue. The more I learned, the more I realised that my knowledge was insufficient.'
For more details, visit www.nyforum.org