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Hong Kong youth

More say for Hong Kong’s youth as government recruits them for input on policymaking

Minister for home affairs says passion and ability, and not political leanings, are what matter in the selection process

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 18 October, 2017, 7:30pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 18 October, 2017, 10:39pm

The government will launch an open recruitment exercise this month for Hongkongers between the ages of 18 and 35 to join its advisory committees on social and youth matters, as part of its efforts to give the younger generation more say in policymaking.

The city’s secretary for home affairs, Lau Kong-wah, told a radio programme on Wednesday that the government wanted around 10 young people to join five committees, including the Youth Development Commission, a new advisory body expected to be launched next year. The other four committees are: Action Committee Against Narcotics; Committee on the Promotion of Civic Education; Committee on Innovation, Technology and Re-industrialisation; and Environmental Campaign Committee.

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Lau explained the five committees had been selected as they dealt with issues that youngsters cared about.

“We will not consider one’s political background,” he added. “When we select people, we look at their passion and whether they have the ability to carry out the work of the committees.”

Interested applicants would have to submit essays and go for interviews with officials and sitting committee members as part of the application process. Lau said he had invited leaders of the city’s different political parties to urge their youth members to apply when the recruitment exercise begins.

Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, in her maiden policy address on October 11, pledged to appoint more youth to government committees and policy research units, to provide ideas and collect public views for the government. Her aim was to increase the ratio of youth members to 15 per cent per advisory committee, which usually has at least 20 members.

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On Wednesday, Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung Kin-chung, the administration’s No 2 official, said it would soon start recruiting 20 to 30 young people for the new Policy Innovation and Co-ordination Unit, which would replace the government’s think tank, the Central Policy Unit.

“They can gain experience in public administration and the voices of young people can be heard directly at the senior levels of government,” Cheung said.

The founder of political party Third Side, Tik Chi-yuen, welcomed the plan to get more young people involved in policy matters.

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Tik, who has been on the Action Committee Against Narcotics for five years, said: “New youth members will help us better understand the situation of drug abuse among teenagers and formulate more effective online anti-drug campaigns … as they are more familiar with the latest technology to disseminate information.”

But opposition legislator Alvin Yeung Ngok-kiu said his Civic Party would not be “overly enthusiastic” about the advisory committee recruitment scheme, claiming the government had always had a duty to recruit members from different backgrounds.

“I hope the youth members will be treated like other members,” Yeung said. “Their advice should be taken as seriously as possible.”

Lau also said the government would roll out 26 sports-related construction projects and plan another 17 over the next five years. One planned project is a second sports park in Whitehead, Sha Tin. He added there had been “satisfactory progress” in the design and planning of the Kai Tak Sports Park.