Time for Hong Kong to stop talking down to its youth: advisory body is only a start
The most profound challenge facing the Hong Kong government concerns the youth of the city. On most issues, both sides take extreme positions with competing concerns, creating a huge obstacle to reconciling differences and achieving consensus (“Property prices, land supply and young people – Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam reflects on pressing issues as she marks first year in office”, July 1).
If these disputes are not properly settled, they risk being escalated into larger issues that might weaken the government’s credibility and raise questions about its legitimacy.
It is evident that the best way to inspire our youth to show more support for government policy initiatives is to rebuild dialogue and trust. The existing top-down and institutionalised channels, like the Youth Development Commission, are sound but suffer from some limitations.
Given that only three seats on the body are reserved for youth who joined via a self-recommendation scheme, such token moves generate the impression that the commission aims to deal with the individuals who are inducing the problem rather than solving the problem itself.
The government should incorporate more youth representatives from diverse backgrounds into its committees. This need not mean that more young members have to be recruited. Instead, it should include members who are sympathetic to comprehending the concerns and ideas of young people in Hong Kong.
The Member Self-Recommendation Scheme for Youth is an initiative in the right direction. However, it seems that the process is still driven by established interests.
The challenge of diversifying opinions and views throughout the policymaking process remains a genuine mission for the government.
As we have seen lately, when issues emerge that have a high relevance for youth, these are often tackled from a paternalistic and condescending angle. There is a risk that policies and debates will be driven by misrepresentations, if conducted solely within some age groups to the exclusion of younger voices.
It is hoped that through active and enthusiastic youth engagement, the Hong Kong government can promote diverse representation and facilitate better understanding and the resolution of mutual concerns, as well as unleash greater originality and innovation.
Collaborations among the old and the young can definitely benefit Hong Kong. This is the missing piece of the puzzle for our dysfunctional city.
Adrian Lam, Tai Koo