Young people in Hong Kong feel alienated by so much inequality

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 25 January, 2017, 5:06pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 25 January, 2017, 10:20pm

There has been much spoken in the press about the role and responsibility of young people amid the current extremely divided political climate of Hong Kong.

Joseph Wan said youth had much to contribute but must learn to compromise in order to be taken seriously by political leaders (“Youth face moment of truth”, January 15).

Curtis Chin said they needed to experience cultural and economic diversity in order to be able to contribute and connect with society (“Youth connection”, January 16). They seem to suggest that once young people are given the right educational and employment opportunities, their needs will be satisfied and society will move forward.

As prospective candidates for a new chief executive emerge, many have spoken about the qualities needed for a new leader, including being able to connect with young people and deal with the economic, political and social issues that cause them so much angst.

Others have spoken about the need to draw people together from different political persuasions, generations and social circumstances, to create stability and a way forward.

While this is an admirable aim, it is unrealistic when they ignore two fundamental issues which youngsters hold strong views on. One is the issue of social justice and the other is economic injustice. These are so firmly held that they are like an ethical true north for that generation.

When they see widespread discrimination based on social, economic, political, racial and gender issues, with the older generations and leadership seeming to want to retain the status quo, it causes a huge generation gap in outlook.

When young people see that six people own as much wealth in the world as the poorest 50 per cent and know that this economic inequality is mirrored in Hong Kong, they do not want to contribute to a system that will perpetuate it.

The problem is that these are issues which they have inherited from previous generations, which have not only caused them but also ignored them.

In fact they now seem to be so firmly embedded within our governmental systems that it is difficult to imagine how they can be addressed without major political surgery.

Any future leader must try to develop policies that tackle the fundamental roots of these issues and not just try to fix the symptoms that are the result of neglecting them, if they are to gain the trust and respect of young people today.

Tony Read, Tung Chung