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Hong Kong youth

Young people still divided on Hong Kong government’s push to increase youth participation in policy advice

Survey reveals that most respondents find the administration’s ability to grasp public opinion lacking

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 21 December, 2017, 2:36pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 21 December, 2017, 9:38pm

Young people in Hong Kong remained divided on the government’s new initiative to increase youth representation in advisory committees, with less than half of them saying it would boost their trust in the administration, according to survey findings released on Thursday by a local NGO.

The Hong Kong Federation of Youth Groups, which oversees more than 70 service units in the city, polled 525 young people in a survey based on Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor’s new policy to recruit more young committee members.

The federation found that 46.3 per cent of respondents said their trust in the government would be raised from such measures, while 40 per said there would be no impact.

In her maiden policy address on October 11, Lam pledged to raise to 15 per cent the proportion of young members, aged between 18 and 35 years, in government committees and policy research units.

The recruitment exercise for 11 young members for five groups – Action Committee Against Narcotics; Committee on Innovation, Technology and Re-industrialisation; Committee on the Promotion of Civic Education; Environmental Campaign Committee; and Youth Development Commission – closed last month.

The group’s third annual study also revealed that 63.4 per cent of young people aged between 15 and 35 years did not trust the government, compared with 66.4 per cent in 2016 and 63.4 in 2015.

Questions in face-to-face interviews conducted at MTR stations and bus terminals in early November included: “Overall, how much do you trust the Hong Kong government?”

Respondents were also asked how much they felt the government trusted young people. Some 70.8 per cent of respondents gave a negative answer. Up to 80 per cent said the lack of mutual trust between the administration and the public was a major obstacle to governance.

Hong Kong’s young people don’t want to be involved in policymaking, consultation shows

When asked what they did not trust about the administration, most respondents – 31.4 per cent – pointed to “ability to grasp public opinion”, followed by “ability to communicate with the public” at 28.2 per cent.

Some 29.3 per cent said they trusted the government’s “ability in managing public finance”.

Ansel Lam Chi-ho, convenor of Youth I.D.E.A, the group’s internal think tank, which conducted the study, said there was no obvious trend in the level of trust young people had for the government over the past three years.

Lam urged authorities to be more creative in communicating with the public.

“The government should consider using infographics to explain their new policies and have each bureau hold annual presentations to explain to the public the outcome of their work,” Lam said.

He also suggested that authorities establish a centralised platform to put together information from all public consultations, as opposed to the current arrangement where details are posted on the websites of individual departments or bureaus.

“Trust is a perception … It takes a long time to build but a short while to break,” he said.