Whether with youth or Beijing, dialogue is the key to progress

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 05 July, 2015, 12:05am
UPDATED : Sunday, 05 July, 2015, 12:05am

Since last year, relations between Hong Kong and the mainland have been tense.

This is because of the negative reaction of many people to the central government's proposal for the method to be used for the election of the chief executive in 2017. Many of them, in particular young people, became involved in social activities and movements such as Occupy Central.

They opposed the election plan as only candidates approved by a pro-Beijing nominating committee would be able to stand in the election. They felt this was not a democratic nomination process, and that was what they wanted.

The pro-Beijing parties accused the pan-democrats of trying to hinder democratic development in Hong Kong.

The aspirations of these teenagers for a genuinely democratic nomination and selection process have not been realised, and they remain dissatisfied. Asking the central government to change is not easy. However, I think the Hong Kong government should keep trying to organise meetings where there is a dialogue between Beijing and the pan-democrats. That is the only way to improve relations between Hong Kong and the mainland.

It is important to recognise how Hong Kong has benefited from help given by the central government. The Closer Economic Partnership Agreement has meant zero tariffs for goods from Hong Kong. Schools have also been able to organise exchange tours for youngsters going to the mainland, and this helps broaden their horizons. We are heavily reliant on the mainland for a number of things, such as fresh water from Dongjiang . It is of paramount importance for Hong Kong to maintain good relations with the mainland.

However, Hong Kong has a high degree of freedom, and the views of the people of Hong Kong must be heeded. In particular, we must listen to what our teenagers have to say. Ten or 20 years from now, they will be the pillars of the community.

Our leaders should not underestimate them. They can sometimes be more perceptive than adults. With liberal studies at schools and the subjects they have taken at university, young Hongkongers are more capable of critical thinking that their predecessors. More teenagers are getting involved in politics. The Hong Kong government and various political parties and pressure groups should not ignore their views.

The Hong Kong government must encourage further dialogue.

Jason Poon, Sai Kung