Youngsters most disillusioned with governance and rule of law

As new study finds a growing dissatisfaction with the government's performance, professor says it's time for a new communication strategy

PUBLISHED : Monday, 07 July, 2014, 7:41pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 08 July, 2014, 7:40am

The administration is being urged to reach out to Hong Kong's disaffected young people after a survey showed their unhappiness is mounting on issues from government performance to the rule of law.

Chinese University's youth satisfaction index showed a 13 per cent fall in sentiment towards the government, the biggest drop of 28 indicators used to compile the index.

Other areas of dissatisfaction included opportunities for development, public spending on education and the rule of law, each of which was down by about 5 per cent from the first such survey last year.

Professor Paul Lee Siu-nam, dean of the university's faculty of social science, said his personal view was that the government needed to improve its communication not only with young people but also the rest of society.

"Take political reform as an example," he said.

"The government can at least explain what difficulties it has [in meeting pan-democrats' demands], instead of giving up communication entirely ... this is not a good strategy."

The 1,001 respondents aged between 15 and 24 interviewed in a telephone survey between May and June were asked to rate the government's performance on a scale of one to 10, with 10 being the top mark and five a pass.

About 58 per cent gave a mark below 5, with about 20 per cent awarding zero to two marks.

Despite this dissatisfaction, happiness in other aspects of life helped give a marginal lift to the overall index - released yesterday - to 100.39 from last year's base of 100.

Respondents rated their mental health as better - up by about 10 per cent - and perceived a drop in youth crime.

Their views of economic conditions, participation in government-funded tertiary education and environmental quality were all up about 6 per cent.

Lee said young people were feeling more assertive about their influence in society, which was "definitely a good thing".

He cited youth-led social campaigns such as the movement against national education in 2012, which won a compromise from the government.

As a communications scholar himself, Lee urged both the authorities and dissatisfied youth to engage more in dialogue. The government should also formulate its policies from the perspective of Hongkongers, as most felt it did the opposite.

But he also called on young activists to recognise that they might not always get 100 per cent of what they fought for and that whether civil disobedience was necessary was a matter of personal choice.