How Carrie Lam can fulfil her promise to help Hong Kong’s youth realise their full potential

Ian Brownlee calls on Lam to set up a ‘Culture, Sport and Youth Bureau’, so that young athletes and artists get the facilities and opportunities to fulfil their potential

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 16 April, 2017, 1:03pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 16 April, 2017, 6:46pm

The chief executive-elect has set herself quite a challenge in trying to get Hong Kong people united. It is only going to happen if she gives concentrated attention to what people really care about. It is more than “livelihood issues” – it is quality of life and achievement of personal potential.

Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor has a proven history of effective policymaking. Her manifesto gave importance to young people and to building a “better future” together. She acknowledges their multidimensional talents and the need to fully realise their potential.

Carrie Lam vows greater role for Hong Kong’s youth

Lam is proposing a “Youth Development Commission” but it mainly focuses on involving them in politics and policy discussions. This is not enough. There is very little of substance about sport and culture. A big opportunity is being missed here.

Watch: Carrie Lam presents her election manifesto

Participation of young people and their families in cultural and sporting activities creates social bonding and opportunities for personal development.

There is a desperate need to provide facilities and opportunities both for individual self-development, and the formation of valuable relationships with groups and people. Our young people are proving every day that Hong Kong has talent across a wide range of cultural and sporting activities. We successfully compete in sports across Asia in age-group levels, and are becoming increasingly successful as these young athletes take part at higher levels. The participation of the thousands of Mini Rugby kids at the Hong Kong Sevens is just one example of how this is taking place with minimal input from the government. It is the same with art – whether music, performance or the visual arts.

Lam has pledged to restructure the government. Culture, youth and sport currently get no priority, as they are lost in the Home Affairs Bureau which has to deal with a lot of unrelated policy areas, including district politics. Instead of a just new culture bureau as proposed, why not establish a “Culture, Sport and Youth Bureau”?

Give a really significant status to the respective commissioners for culture, sport and youth. Most importantly, give them mandates to look outside the existing bureaucracy and set up a new system. Let NGOs, sports and cultural organisations get on with what they can do so well. Remove the difficulties that the present system places on community organisations, and provide easily accessible space and facilities. Don’t rely only on the government to provide and run facilities, but utilise private-sector donations and investment, in a much more flexible manner. Such investment will release unlimited potential in Hong Kong’s young people.

Ian Brownlee is managing director of Masterplan Limited and involved with many sporting and community organisations