Hong Kong's young people do care about politics - they just prefer to do it online, writes Elaine Yau In a packed exhibition hall at the Hong Kong City Hall in Central last Sunday, about 70 politically-conscious people listened to a talk on the controversy surrounding Tibet. Then the audience joined in with their own views. This scene of public debate has played out every Sunday over the past 51 years. The Hyde Park Forum was founded by Ma Man-fei. It follows the tradition of Hyde Park in London, which provides a Speakers' Corner for the public to express their views. The late democracy crusader rallied a group of politically-conscious youth and set up the forum at the Hong Kong City Hall every Sunday to engage in debates. 'Everyone can become an expert at our forum,' said Tso Wan-wai, who has been the convener of the forum for five years. Professor Tso of the Chinese University of Hong Kong's biochemistry department said the interactive debate provided a good chance for people to voice their views. 'There are no inhibitions here. Even if a man digresses from our topic, he's still given one minute to talk,' said Professor Tso. However, last Sunday's audience was made up of more mature people and the long-standing forum seems to have difficulty attracting the young. One of the speakers, Larry Chow Chuen-ho, director of Hong Kong Baptist University's Hong Kong Energy Studies Centre, put the lack of youth interest down to the abundance of opportunities available online. 'It's not that today's youth are apathetic about politics,' he said. 'They just express their views via other means like chat rooms, blogs or online forums.' With internet-savvy young people flocking to youth forums and blogs to post their commentaries on current affairs, traditional political forums have been left in the cold. Peter Lam, who works in the shipping industry, is one of the ardent supporters of discussion forums like hkreporter.com. 'It's better to post your views online because their impact lasts longer than traditional forums. Traditional forums break up and everyone disperses. But online comments stay there for much longer,' said the 28-year-old. 'Also you don't have to use your own name to post comments. Speaking up in public is like demonstrating on the streets. The fear of a crackdown on public dissent is always there. But if you post your comments on a website you're not likely to be caught or singled out by the authorities.'