Put into action pledges on youth development
Exercises in public relations by chief executive and her ministers are all well and good but the proof, as they say, will be in the pudding
Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor and Russian President Vladimir Putin do not seem to have anything in common. But coincidentally, both have stolen the spotlight by engaging young people in a similar fashion. The new Hong Kong leader shared her reading preferences with youngsters at the annual book fair held in Wan Chai earlier this month, while Putin fielded questions from gifted children in a televised show in Sochi last week. The two events were, of course, unrelated. But they underline the importance attached to youth by political leaders the world over.
The circumstances of Hong Kong and Russia are vastly different. But recently, both places have seen a political awakening among the young. According to a Chinese University survey last year, the city’s youth have become less satisfied and feel powerless in political development. The perception of youngsters having an impact on public policies fell more than 10 per cent from the year before. The sentiments were manifested in the landslide victory of some pro-independence lawmakers in last year’s Legislative Council elections .
Lam is apparently well aware of the need to better engage the younger generation. That is probably why she and her ministers showed up at the book fair – a popular event among youngsters – and went back to their alma maters in a show of encouragement for students before the release of secondary school exam results earlier this month. We trust Lam realises that it will take more than an exercise in public relations to foster trust and support. During the chief executive race, she promised a host of initiatives to enhance youngsters’ participation in politics. They include upgrading the Commission on Youth to a higher-level body and appointing more young people to the government advisory machinery. These are positive steps to address growing grievances among the city’s youth.
Putting good ideas into practice is just the means, however. The goal is to make a difference in youth development. It is important that young people feel they are counted in public affairs and have the ability to shape the future. This is the way to nurture a deeper sense of belonging among our younger generation.