ALTHOUGH Emily Lau Wai-hing has not always been able to avoid controversy, she has some pretty good ideas about how young people can steer clear of trouble. In 1996 the outspoken legislative councillor was arrested after lying down on Harbour Road outside a Selection Committee meeting, in protest against the selection process and the Provisional Legislative Council. Then, in 1999 she was formally censured by the Legco president for calling some of her colleagues 'rubber stamps' during the right-of-abode debate. When she is not causing a stir in the Legco Chamber or on the streets of Hong Kong, the outspoken former journalist can be found among the people of Tseung Kwan O, her constituents. This is where she sees first-hand some of the difficulties young people face growing up in Hong Kong. Ms Lau pointed to the lack of space in homes as a major problem for young people. 'It's very crowded, very congested, so they go downstairs to play,' she said. 'There, they have more space, can talk to friends, but in the process, sometimes they get mixed up with bad company or triad members and get into trouble.' Since providing more space at home is not feasible as a short-term solution, Ms Lau said the government should do more to meet young people's needs: 'Now, one thing they like doing is skateboarding and break-dancing. Two nights ago I saw some kids - at 1.30am - break-dancing outside a supermarket. But people came and chased them away! And they were very good! 'The kids love it so why don't we give them some space to skateboard and break-dance? Yeah, it's a bit dangerous, but that's what they want. So, we have to change with the times and try to provide such facilities for them.' Ms Lau, who in 1991 became the first woman to be elected to Legco, said young people have a role to play in such issues. 'Young people are very important, but it's only when they are aware of the issues and interested that they take them up. Only then can we get things to go forward,' she said. Speaking of the controversial plans to regulate cyber cafes and video arcades, Ms Lau argued that 'we should listen to the young people'. 'Young people like to go to these places so much -what is it that they want? Don't just always listen to the adults. I don't want adults to think that they know best, that they know everything,' she said. Young people's interests should not be limited to youth issues alone though. The Frontier, her pro-democracy lobby group, has a sub-committee that is 'looking at how to promote democracy to students'. It is no easy task. 'In a materialistic society there is a tendency to say, 'Oh well, let's just do whatever it takes to get rich quick'. But we want to tell them that is not the be-all and end-all in life,' Ms Lau said.