Real need for dialogue between young people and the government

PUBLISHED : Friday, 04 March, 2016, 4:35pm
UPDATED : Friday, 04 March, 2016, 4:35pm

I want to look at the recent radical anti-social behaviour by some young people in Hong Kong.

We need to try and understand and think about what the government can do in the face of this anger and the role the younger generation can play to build a better Hong Kong.

Radical movements such as the ones we have seen in the city can destroy social stability. They undermine our reputation as one of the safest international cities in the world.

For decades, we have had no serious violent incidents, but this changed with the protests in Mong Kok last month. Property was damaged, including shops, and bricks were torn from the ground. The daily lives of law-abiding Mong Kok residents were disrupted.

Our image abroad was damaged and this is unfortunate, because the tourism sector is crucially important to our economy.

I am worried that some people in other countries will have seen news footage of what happened and will decide Hong Kong is a dangerous place to visit. When incidents like that happen in a city, some governments will issue their citizens with a travel warning.

Students are now paying more attention to social and political affairs, but they need to learn more so that they can make informed decisions about what action to take.

Since liberal studies was introduced as a subject in the secondary school curriculum, youngsters have learned a lot about current affairs, but more in-depth teaching is required so that they can improve their critical thinking skills.

With this deeper understanding, hopefully fewer youngsters will resort to violence when they feel the lines of communication with the administration have broken down.

The government must aim for greater transparency.

It has to seek greater dialogue with schools, teachers, and even school social workers.

It needs to seek a peaceful relationship with young people and, by talking to them, hopefully regain their trust. It must be seen to be considering and balancing the needs of all stakeholders in society.

Young people have an important role to play in the future development of Hong Kong and this must be done in a peaceful way.

Helen Ford, Shek Kip Mei