Our angry young people have a message we should listen to

They may use bad language or spout silly, shallow arguments, but they speak for a section of society that has grievances that need addressing

PUBLISHED : Friday, 07 October, 2016, 1:19am
UPDATED : Friday, 07 October, 2016, 1:49am

Some Hong Kong people are such prudes, and we have a media that just feeds on puerile taste.

Speaking at a forum and later elaborating on Facebook this week, localist leader Yau Wai-ching used the Cantonese slang for sexual intercourse. Horror of horrors! So many people, including famous writer and columnist Chip Tsao, have feigned outrage and shock.

By now, everyone has heard the story. Even Time magazine ran an online report. Perhaps its middle-aged expatriate editors get a kick out of hearing dirty words coming out of the mouth of a cute young Chinese person, who also advocates Hong Kong’s independence and, at 25, is the second-youngest lawmaker in the new legislature.

The funny thing is, Yau wasn’t even talking about sex, and her complaint about young people having no place for sexual intimacy was just an aside.

What she was getting at was the hardships that young people face today. So much for the brouhaha.

A fresh university graduate earns about HK$12,000 a month, she wrote. Most of it ends up being used to repay student loans and cover the high costs of renting a home. Forget owning a property or starting a family. You won’t be able to afford them for at least 10 years, that is, until you pay off your debt, move up the career ladder and earn enough.

The rise and rise of young Hongkonger Yau Wai-ching of Youngspiration

Many young people live in tiny flats or with their families – not even somewhere they can have sex in.

The government and pro-Beijing crowd exalt the economic opportunities offered by the motherland but are happy to ignore the plight of young people and exploit them.

Actually some of her complaints are just a bit silly. Certainly youths are not such passive victims of society and government as Yau seems to think. If that is the level of socio-political analysis she and her localist friends can offer, God help us when they enter the legislature next week.

At some point, everyone has to take responsibility for their own lives, even if you think hidden forces and circumstances are stacked against you. But what she talks about is important. After all, it was mostly an angry and disillusioned young electorate that sent so many localists and secessionists to the Legislative Council.

Yau may not be a great analyst, but she is a fine specimen of youthful anger and discontent. That makes her relevant.